One of the most peculiar figures in the 2016 presidential race is Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon now leading the Republican pack in several national polls.
Carson is known for his disconcertingly calm manner and soft-spoken voice, but if one listens carefully, all too often what comes out is controversial and inflammatory in the least.
Time and again, Carson has displayed an affinity for making comparisons to Nazi Germany, gaining him widespread criticism. To better understand America in the age of Obama, Carson suggested that people read Mein Kampf, Adolph Hitler’s notorious autobiography.
After President Obama once again called for gun reform measures in response to October’s mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, Carson responded by saying that “there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first,” a reference to Hitler’s disarmament of the German people.
Carson also suggested that the holocaust wouldn’t have occurred had the Jews been armed, which prompted fierce backlash from the Jewish community.
Despite being an African American himself, Carson has managed to alienate many in the black community. Carson declared that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare” is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Carson also said that some aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement are “sickening,” a move which surely cost him popularity points within the black community.
Recently Carson has been in the news not for inflammatory remarks but because of newfound revelations that several claims about his youth are partially or entirely untrue. Carson portrays himself as the embodiment of the American dream, a classic rags to riches story.
Born and raised in an impoverished and brutal Detroit neighborhood, Carson often recalls how he hasn’t always had the demeanor for which he is now known. Carson says that as a child he had violent tendencies and severe anger management issues, which manifested in a childhood of fighting, rock-hurling, hammer-throwing chaos. Carson’s aggression culminated in an attempt to stab a friend for changing the radio station, an event which he says was a turning point in his life.
Soon after the stabbing incident, Carson says that he picked up a Bible and began reading, after which he “never had another problem with temper.”
However, when CNN set out to learn more about Carson’s childhood violence, they were unable to find anyone who could corroborate his stories. CNN interviewed nine of Carson’s childhood friends, classmates, and neighbors.
None of those interviewed could confirm Carson’s claims, and instead were surprised to hear about them. Many remembered Carson as a quiet and obedient child.
When this story broke, the Carson campaign was quick to refute it and assert that Carson had in fact tried to stab a friend. Donald Trump accurately described how bizarre it is that “this is the only election in history where it’s better off if you stabbed somebody.”
Another story which Carson has touted in books, interviews, and speeches alike is the offering of a scholarship to the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point. In his autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” Carson recalls how at a Detroit Memorial Day parade in May, 1969 he was introduced to General Westmoreland, and was then “offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
When POLITICO went to verify this story, they quickly found out that General Westmoreland wasn’t even in or around Detroit in May, 1969. If Westmoreland were there, he couldn’t have nominated Carson to West Point anyway. That’s a duty only elected officials can fulfill.
Most recently, Carson was back in the news for another absurd statement, this time because it’s his “personal belief” that Egypt’s pyramids were built by the Biblical figure Joseph to store grain, and not as tombs. Egyptian officials were quick to respond, assuring Carson that the pyramids were in fact built to house pharoahs.
In light of these recent revelations, many wonder if if Carson has already reached his peak in the polls. If that is the case, the end of Ben may well be nigh.
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