Ben Carson has said some things that can generously be called “intellectually questionable” in the past, but a comment he made during an extended interview with the Washington Post on Monday really sets the bar higher than the rest.
First, let’s start with the obvious: Carson now regrets saying the Chinese were involved in the Syrian conflict. He then followed that with standing by his claim, saying, “Chinese have physical characteristics that would make them pretty easy to identify in a setting like that.”
And there are people out there who think this man would make for a good leader.
During the interview, the two Post reporters asked Carson whether he had any regrets, in particular, regrets of policy ideas he put forward.
Carson said he regretted “the China thing,” and added he didn’t think it was a smart thing to say. Of course, he defended it by saying, “I said that on the basis of what some people in the CIA tell me.” He continued:
But they made it seem like I’m saying there are a bunch of Chinese boots on the ground. Well, everybody knows that Chinese have physical characteristics that would make them pretty easy to identify in a setting like that.
Carson was widely mocked for claiming “the Chinese are there” when asked about Syria during the November GOP debate. While the claim has been disavowed by national security officials, Carson’s campaign defended the remarks all the same.
Carson told the Post, “This kind of stuff is frustrating” and added, “But it’s something that I’ve learned. You continue to learn that everything you say is going to be dissected and used in a negative way, if possible. I’m learning. I wish I didn’t have to learn that.”
I want to focus on Carson’s remarks that the “Chinese have physical characteristics” that would set them apart. I’m sure there are a number of right-wingers who are going to see this as nothing more than political correctness and nitpicking, but this is a man who wants to be the leader of the free world and he doesn’t even know China — one of the rising stars on the global stage — has more than one ethnic group.
Sure, 91% of the population is Han Chinese, and most of the Han Chinese live in cities that have populations measured in multiples of Alabama. But that leaves a combined minority population roughly three times the state of California. The Uyghur have a population twice Denmark’s, and they’re not even the largest group.
The Uyghur, it should be emphasized, are ethnically Turkic and are Muslims. They’re also incredibly varied, and most of them look nothing like the Han.
The world already suspects we as a nation have the geographical acumen of a turkey. Let’s not prove it by electing the very embodiment of that stereotype.
Feature image via Raw Story