Ben Carson was pushed, and pushed, until his campaign manager, Armstrong Williams, would have no more of it. “This interview is over,” Williams announced, from off-camera. Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s State of the Union, had gone too far.
Though it’s Carson who’s gone too far.
As he told Tapper (before the interview was cut), if American Muslims “are not willing to reject Sharia and all the portions of it that are talked about in the Qur’an,” then, Carson said, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” A pronouncement as entertaining as it is grotesque.
Only entertaining, I might add, because Sharia is not “contained” in the Qur’an. The Qur’an is contained in the Sharia. But can we expect Carson to understand something before he issues a fatwa against it? Enter the grotesquery. Sure, Donald Trump has mocked women, maligned Mexicans and insulted many fellow Republicans. Ted Cruz has criticized gay rights activists. Scott Walker, unions. Jeb Bush, Asian Americans. It’s been a nasty campaign and it’s only just begun.
But so far, Carson and Carson alone pronounced on what a whole group of Americans aren’t qualified to do: Be President. (I suppose, since we American Muslims aren’t loyal Americans, Vice-President and, to be safe, Speaker of the House should be off the list, too.) Carson has since vacillated; sometimes he insists Muslims aren’t suitable for the highest office in the land, whereas at other times he swears he means only that Americans aren’t ready for a Muslim President.
Indeed. What greater mark of leadership is there than hiding behind prejudice?
I can think of at least one: Having the courage of your convictions. If Carson seriously thinks he’s qualified to sit down with Vladimir Putin to discuss the occupation of Ukraine, or Russian support for the brutal Assad regime, then certainly Carson won’t mind sitting across from some American Muslims and asking them to prove their loyalty. Given that we are several million, however, it wouldn’t make sense for him to interrogate every single one of us.
So I’ve suggested some names, if only to get him started. If Carson’s willing to address these five folks, three of whom are actually Muslim, and explain to them why their religion makes them unsuitable for the very office he seeks, then I will not start a campaign called “American Muslims for Ben Carson.”
No. 1: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Maybe Carson can tell the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, six-time champion and six-time MVP, longtime Los Angeles Laker, coach, author, public intellectual and national icon that he’s got to renounce his faith before he can serve his country.
Given Carson’s discomfort with evolutionary theory, I think it reasonable to also speculate on the true reasons for Kareem’s legendary height. Why would he be so tall, except to do jihad? Will Abdul-Jabbar Skyhook over the Constitution, and score two points for Sharia? Isn’t the Captain’s jersey number, 33, some kind of Islamic numerology? Damning questions for sure, and worse yet, so far unanswered.
No. 2: Muhammad Ali
Sure he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, but where’s he stand on theocracy? Just find five minutes to sit down with the Greatest, and be honest, Ben Carson, about why. “Mr. Ali, I’d like to know if Americans can really trust you.” “Was The Thrilla in Manila Compliant With Sharia?” Just don’t call him Clay.
No. 3: Andre Carson
Andre Carson (no relation, I presume?) and Keith Ellison are America’s two Muslim Congressmen—or at the least the only ones we know of. On the plus side, since Congress doesn’t do anything, we can be relatively certain that even if they mean us harm they can’t actually inflict any.
No. 4 and 5: Ed and Paula Kassig
Peter was born in 1988, so of course he would have been too young to qualify for President for the upcoming term. But maybe after Carson loses in 2016, and well after he’s forgotten by 2020, Peter Kassig could’ve run in 2024. And why not? He certainly had the credentials.
After high school, Peter became a U.S. Army Ranger, and was deployed to Iraq for several months with a special operations unit. Peter later returned to the Middle East as a medical relief worker. While delivering supplies to a town in Syria, however, he was abducted by ISIS. Peter’s journey to Islam began before his captivity, but he only formally embraced the faith while a hostage. Not that it mattered.
ISIS, unlike Ben Carson, treated the American Muslim as an American, which he most certainly was. Beheaded almost a year after his abduction, Peter’s funeral services were held in absentia in November 2014, in his native Indiana, and led by a Syrian imam. I’m sure the Kassigs will appreciate how Carson might think, given their son’s sacrifices for his country, he might not have been entirely American.
It’s easy to score points by speaking in generalities. But if Carson wants to be Commander-in-Chief, surely he can tell the parents of an American veteran how they feel about second-class citizenship. Because, if you get down to it, that’s what Carson’s proposing.