Ben Carson, who freely acknowledges his campaign is in a death spiral, went on CBS News’ Republican Debate with one goal in mind: Win over all of the people he’s lost in recent months. Instead, he mumbled about topics at random, avoided answering serious questions, and ended the night with a fake quotation from Russian leader Joseph Stalin which originated in a chain letter. It was not a great night for Carson.
Carson, who once claimed the Pyramids were built to store grain, was asked to provide his closing statement and rather than tell America why he should be president, he launched into the Stalin quote.
I, like you, am a member of we, the people, and we know that our country is headed off the cliffs. Joseph Stalin said if you want to bring America down, you have to undermine three things: our spiritual life, our patriotism, and our morality.
— Mashable News (@MashableNews) February 14, 2016
It’s clear Carson hoped to tap into his supporters sense that conservative Christian values were being eroded in the face of the liberal movement. He wanted to show even spooky communist Joseph Stalin knew that if America were to embrace those liberal values, it was doomed.
But as online fact-checking site Snopes pointed out, the quote cannot be attributed to Stalin, but to chain letters and Facebook memes passed around by unscrupulous or just plain ignorant right-wing users.
Snopes found that there is no record of Stalin ever saying this. In fact, it doesn’t even sound like Stalin.
The putative quotation from Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin referenced above is another item of this genre, one which presents the concept that Communist enemies of the U.S. viewed patriotism, morality, and spirituality as America’s greatest assets and cannily plotted that the U.S. could be made to collapse from within if these values were sufficiently undermined (and which, of course, serves as an admonition to American readers to be attentive in maintaining these values). Whatever level of truth one might find in this sentiment, however, it’s highly unlikely that Stalin ever spoke these words.
Carson got suckered in by a Facebook meme and stood on a debate stage on live television to pass it along during the do-or-die moment for his campaign. It’s baffling and yet not at the very same time. Given the way he’s handled his presidential campaign (leaping from one disaster into another), it’s actually pretty impressive that he’s made it this far. Soft-spoken, uninformed, and apparently oblivious to even a basic ability to fact-check, it’s hard to imagine a worse choice for President of the United States than Ben Carson.
Feature image via CBS News screenshot