Retired brain surgeon and potential Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is hitting back hard at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for placing him on its “extremist” watch list.
“When embracing traditional Christian values is equated to hatred, we are approaching the stage where wrong is called right and right is called wrong. It is important for us to once again advocate true tolerance,” Carson says. “That means being respectful of those with whom we disagree and allowing people to live according to their values without harassment. It is nothing but projectionist when some groups label those who disagree with them as haters.”
The SPLC watch list is, some might say, a fund raising tool with a political bent. Even so, it’s surprising to see Carson listed on it. In 2011, the SPLC put Sen. Rand Paul on the list for what it called “electoral extremism.” He was one of 23 listed as members of an “extremist Right.”
The Intelligence Report has compiled an accounting of 22 men and one woman with extreme right-wing views who sought public office during the 2010 election season — including five who succeeded. Those who won their races are marked “elected.”
Now, unlike the usual Klansman and Nazis, new and old, who are also – and deserve to be – on the list – Carson’s only thought crime appears to be his belief in traditional marriage. This is the primary statement from Carson that resulted in his being labeled an “anti-gay” extremist by the SPLC:
When embracing traditional Christian values is equated to hatred, we are approaching the stage where wrong is called right and right is called wrong. It is important for us to once again advocate true tolerance. That means being respectful of those with whom we disagree and allowing people to live according to their values without harassment. It is nothing but projectionist when some groups label those who disagree with them as haters.
The rationalization – which amounts to self-parody at this point – is here. His real crime, in the SPLC’s view, would appear to be opposing the politics of Barack Obama while Black:
… Although the book amplified Carson’s name recognition, the breakout incident that made him a sensation in far-right political circles was his audacious public criticism of President Obama, who was sitting nearby at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. He lectured Obama on the national debt, called for a tax system along the lines of biblical tithes and touted health savings accounts that could be inherited by family members as a better option than any government plan. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other right-wing political commentators lavished praise on Carson. The Wall Street Journal headlined a positive review of the speech “Ben Carson for President,” noting that he may not have been politically correct, “but he’s closer to correct than we’ve heard in years.”
In a March 2013 appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Carson bolstered his standing with hardliners by appearing to equate gays who wish to marry with pedophiles and humans who have sex with animals. Although he later apologized for the remark, claiming it was taken out of context and asserting that he loved gay people just as much as straight people, his words triggered an avalanche of protest from faculty colleagues and students at Johns Hopkins. He had been scheduled to deliver the university’s commencement address just two months later but withdrew rather than stoke further controversy. At around the same time, Carson, at age 61, announced his retirement from Johns Hopkins, effective July 1, saying he wanted to leave surgical practice at the top of his game….