Ben Carson: ‘Immigration is like Slavery’


Talia Robinson has recently started an internship with OBV. Having just finished studying History at Bristol university - with a first - Talia is helping out with research, campaigning, and writing. Here is her first news piece about Ben Carson’s major speech in his new political role as US Secretary for Housing.

The US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ben Carson, has faced a backlash after likening enslaved Africans to immigrants, during his first official address yesterday- 6th March- in his new role. Referring to America as ‘a land of dreams and opportunity,’ the former neurosurgeon commended the work immigrants do before drawing a comparison with ‘other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.’

He continued:

But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.’

Needless to say, for Africans brought to America during the transatlantic slave trade, the US was far from ‘a land of dreams and opportunity.’ Snatched from their families, forced into disease-ridden slave ships, where many died, and sold as property to the highest bidder. Carson should well know and understand that enslaved Africans were taken to America involuntarily, unlike immigrants.

To compare slaves to immigrants as Carson has done shows crassness and insults the memory of the millions who died and suffered as a result of slavery.

Unsurprisingly, his comments have caused an uproar, with many taking to social media to vent their anger and incredulity. Hollywood star Samuel L Jackson was quick to express his disbelief, tweeting

OK!! Ben Carson...I can’t! Immigrants? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAF---- PLEASE!!!"

Actress Whoopi Goldberg also took to Twitter, commenting

Ben Carson..please read or watch Roots, most immigrants come here VOLUNTARILY, can’t really say the same about the slaves..they were stolen."

Feeling the heat, Carson has since posted a statement in response on his official Facebook page in which he acknowledges that the slave narrative and the immigrant narrative are ‘two entirely different experiences’ that should ‘never be intertwined, nor forgotten.’

Moreover, a spokesman for HUD sought to silence the storm by claiming that Carson’s remarks had been cynically interpreted, adding that ‘no one honestly believes he equates voluntary immigration with involuntary servitude.’

But this is not the first time that Carson has sparked controversy. In 2013, for instance, he faced criticism after referring to Obamacare as the worst thing to hit the US ‘since slavery,’ adding that ‘it is slavery in a way.’

Similarly, during his 2016 presidential campaign he drew a comparison between abortion and slavery, likening slaves to foetuses: ‘during slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to the slave.’

Carson’s catalogue of ‘slavery’ gaffs lead one to question his understanding of the word ‘slavery,’ and beg the question of whether this man is fit for high office and government leadership.

Talia Robinson