Ten Ethics Observations On Ben Carson’s Statement That A Muslim Should Not Be President

ben-carsonSunday, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” that a Muslim should not be President of the United States, saying that Carson “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

After that ignited the proverbial “media firestorm,” Carson went further, telling The Hill in a subsequent interview:

“I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country. Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

He qualified his objections by saying that he would have no problem with a Muslim candidate who  “publicly rejected all the tenets of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that.”


1) Since the likelihood of a Muslim being elected President before human beings proceed to the next stage of evolution, be it brains the size of watermelons or tentacles in place of legs, this issue really isn’t about having a Muslim President. The controversy is over whether Dr. Carson is espousing bigotry, or just talking common sense, and this in turn is about the bizarre dedication of progressives and Democrats to the false proposition that Islam has nothing to do with domestic and foreign terrorism, ISIS, and world unrest. Thus such a statement is immediately condemned as fear-mongering and bigotry, and the news media and Democrats (but I repeat myself), as well as others, are behaving as if Carson said that redheads can’t be President. In general, Carson’s undiplomatic and clumsy comment—again, he has no business running for President, as he is an incompetent candidate who  has no relevant experience whatsoever—provides an easy route for Democrats and their media allies to paint Republicans as bigots. That’s what the episode is really about.

2) I will say, with absolute confidence, that no one should advocate that we put an unqualified, opinionated, politically naive, neurosurgeon in charge of this nation.  (Dr. Carson also has dead eyes. So does Scott Walker. I don’t trust leaders with dead eyes.)

3) Carson has a legitimate point buried in his statement. The strict tenets of Islam are inconsistent with American ideals and principles, among them the separation of religion and state, individual autonomy, treatment of women and acceptance of those of other faiths. Treating his comments as if they are the rantings of a mad man, as CNN’s New Day was doing this morning, is not proportional, responsible, fair or helpful.4) Carson’s follow-up statement to The Hill in which he said that a Muslim could qualify himself by rejecting Islamic law in his personal life goes too far, however. A President’s private observation of his religion, or not, is not a legitimate concern for the public.

5) What would be appropriate would be something like the assurances Jack Kennedy made to the nation while running for President, when he said in part:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew— or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.”

6) That should and must be the position of every Presidential candidate, and as long as it is his or her position, no religious belief or upbringing should be seen as disqualifying in any way.

7) The hypocrisy of Democrats and the news media jumping on Carson for this, when so many of them openly denigrate the religious beliefs of Christian Conservatives, is blinding. How many progressives would argue that a Christian who rejects the Theory of Evolution should not be President? ( I would.) How many would argue that a religious conviction that the U.S. Supreme Court cannot overrule Biblical edicts and “God’s Word” also should render someone unable to serve in the Oval Office, not to mention a court clerk in Kentucky? I would, do, and have. Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are incapable of executing the rule of law. A large proportion of the public, perhaps even a majority, would maintain that an atheist should not be President, which is why none of the atheists we have had as President ever admitted being one. Yet a devout Muslim poses more risks to our democracy than an atheist.

8) Ben Carson’s spokesperson is disgraced radio talk show host Armstrong Williams, and having a spokesperson like him also should disqualify a Presidential candidate. Defending Carson’s comments on CNN, Williams recited serial nonsense, arguing that Carson’s statement wasn’t “about religion”—it was obviously about religion—and that Carson isn’t a politician, as if being inexperienced and incompetent at what one is currently doing is an excuse for avoiding accountability for doing it badly. Dr. Carson is running for President, and therefore is a politician. Williams then claimed that Carson just “tells the truth,” as if Carson’s opinion is the end of every discussion.

That’s funny: he didn’t tell the truth about why Donald Trump’s “some vaccinations cause autism” garbage during the last debate was dangerously irresponsible and ignorant.

9) Bernie Sanders responded to Carson by saying, “You judge candidates for president not on their religion, not on the color of their skin, but on their ideas on what they stand for. … I was very disappointed in Dr. Carson’s statement.” Sanders’ statement is far more dangerous and foolish than Carson’s. Any inexperienced and naive tyro without skills at leadership and management can spout ideas—Larry Lessig, for example. Bernie Sanders, for another. Or Ben Carson. Standing for something and having ideas isn’t governing, and it does not tell the public anything about an individual’s trustworthiness and character. Hillary Clinton has ideas, but she also believes that the ends justify the means and that lies are an acceptable—indeed primary—tool of leadership. If Sanders means what he said, then he doesn’t think character matters. That disqualifies him.

10) A final jaw-dropping hypocrisy note: progressives are trying to use the Pope’s religious influence to bolster their various agenda items: pacifism, income distribution, crippling the economy to pretend to address climate change. He is an example of policy and governance being driven by faith, which is exactly what Carson is worried about with a Muslim President. Those toadying to the Pope for cynical reasons are bolstering Carson’s position, though Carson probably doesn’t think so. No President should place his religion above the traditions, culture, laws and ideals of the United States. What the religion is doesn’t matter.


Sources: Washington PostThe Hill, NPR

46 thoughts on “Ten Ethics Observations On Ben Carson’s Statement That A Muslim Should Not Be President

  1. As someone who has – in another life – traveled extensively in Muslim countries and is also an atheist – just how long would I last? I have an ingrained prejudice. I expect – no doubt – a Fatwa to be issued.

    • If any harm comes to Ben Carson, especially now that what he’s said has been exploited so far and wide, then there will be extreme hell to pay among Carson critics – both the noisy ones and (especially) the quiet, even more sneaky ones. I don’t care that he isn’t qualified to serve as POTUS; it’s a matter of principle: Hit the plain talker, and you’re going to get hit. Plain talker gets hit…enemies of the plain talker get hit. That’s how things have worked for a long time in the Mideast. It’s time for things to work that way here. Who knows? Maybe we of the right(eous) could start a wave of emigration, a panicked mass exodus OUT of the U.S.

      Luckily for JFK, he did not have an internal Islamic threat to confront. Today, the U.S. has that threat, but also suffers paralyzing denial and cowardice among its agents and agencies of government (not to mention pandemic incompetence) in regard to confronting it – which is tantamount to complicity and ultimately, surrender (check literal meanings of “Islam”). I dunno, Jack; we might see a Muslim POTUS real soon, in our lifetimes. Either that, or a POTUS committed to the extinction of Islam, like I am.

      Ben Carson says something politically incorrect to the proglib mob, and suddenly every deck of race cards disappears. How much more magical can proglib thinking become?! Pass the popcorn – I already have ammo.

  2. I agree with everything you said here, and it needs saying, and you said it well.

    But if only by emphasis on the progressive failures (CNN, Bernie, Democrats), you neglected one huge, salient point, a point which should not be ignored on this issue:

    Carson is campaigning for the GOP ticket. This is no accident, as something approaching half the party thinks Obama is a Muslim, the leading GOP candidate delights in encouraging that belief, and many of the candidates support “religious freedom” over the rule of law as long as the religion is Christianity and the measure of “freedom” is their own.

    This virulent stream of jingoistic, xenophobic, paranoiac politics emerges periodically in the US, and without fail, it does so through demagogues of the right–not the left.

    The GOP sat down with the devil when it tried to placate the Tea Party, and is now paying the price of having cynically tried to sell them out for corporate interests. To use McCain’s terminology, the crazies are definitely fired up, and the GOP has no one to blame but itself for being hijacked by the likes of Carson, Cruz and Trump.

    Next to the wholesale kidnapping of a national political party, I’ll take the shortcomings of CNN thank you very much.

    • I’ll begin with a similar into to yours, Charles: I pretty much agree, except for emphasis. At least 50% of both parties are ignorant, knee-jerk, bias-riddled fools. Read the daily memes coming out of Occupy Democrats. Dishonest, hateful, ignorant, dumb as two frogs in a frying pan. Embracing the deranged, reality-rejecting socialism of Bernie Sanders is just as idiotic as listening to Trump or Carson. The blame for both phenomenon falls equally on Obama/Reid/Pelosi/The Democrats and McConnell/Boehner/ Bush/ Republicans. Obama’s incompetence emboldens inexperienced egotists like Trump and Carson. Success has a way of silencing extremists, and there has been precious little of it. 50% of the progressives—more, I’d say—actively dislike American and its ideals. Is that worse than bigotry? It’s a tough call for me.

      Just remember that illegal immigration is Trump’s biggest issue, and according to NPR, Democrats LIKE illegal immigration.

      • Never mind Charles’ assertion that the GOP is “kidnapped”…while he completely glosses over, quite contently, which nefarious economic philosophy has “kidnapped” his Party. But of course, that kidnapping has been around for over half a century that it’s just family now…

        I do like how he plays the tired (and ignorant) GOP sells out to corporate interests meme. I do wonder how he takes himself seriously. Research indicates that Big Business is far more in bed with the Democrats and Big Government interests than with the GOP.

        Sad though that the lie he repeats still works on the populace.

        • OK, I’ll bite. What “research indicates” that Big Business is more in bed with the Dems?

          Here’s some research that says just the opposite. The single largest lobbying organization in the US – number 1 out of 4,070, in 2014, spending $124 million in lobbying and another $35 million in outside spending, was the US Chamber of Commerce.

          OpenSecrets.org, which does real research, ranks them as 100% conservative in their views, and 100% aimed at the GOP, not the Dems.

          Looking forward, the Koch Brothers are about to outspend the GOP itself in 2016:

          From the NYT:

          “Now the Kochs’ network will embark on its largest drive ever to influence legislation and campaigns across the country, leveraging Republican control of Congress and the party’s dominance of state capitols to push for deregulation, tax cuts and smaller government. In 2012, the Kochs’ network spent just under $400 million, an astonishing sum at the time. The $889 million spending goal for 2016 would put it on track to spend nearly as much as the campaigns of each party’s presidential nominee.”

          And I don’t think they’re going to spend it supporting Hillary.

          • You’ll bite?

            How asinine. We’ve had this discussion before. I sent you the info before. You were wrong before. You even said you’d read the book I linked to you before.

            I’m not doing this again. Hence the comment about treating the lie *again*.

            I do like the resuscitation of the Koch brothers chimera. Do you leftists ever have new material?

            By the way, I assume you read the incredibly insightful but I composed about errant use of Twitter?

      • Quibbling a bit here, but comparing the “daily memes coming out of Occupy Democrats” – a 3-year old ad hoc advocacy group – with the daily memes coming out of the GOP – a supposedly real political party – is disingenuous. That’s like comparing Tea Party rants with official Democratic Party lines.

        Still quibbling a bit, I’d suggest that on the narrow issue of “ignorance” you cite, the GOP is a clear winner. On the Dem side, you’ve got some vaccine-phobic-Jennie-McCarthy-ites and an obsession with gluten-free living.

        But on the GOP side, we have documented staggering levels of ignorance about evolution, history, biology, geography and much, much more.

        There may not be a quick answer to the claim of 50-50 guilt on many issues, but on these one, I’d say there is. The GOP is, as even Bobby Jindal admitted in a moment of sanity, truly “the party of stupid.”

        • I’m going to raise your quibble with a quibble:

          Unique to the spectrum, the left has the anti-vaxxers, dietary cults, an irrational fear of nuclear power, a strange fondness for Muslims, and a concrete belief that America is the majority problem in relation to climate change. The right has the religious ignorances including (but not limited to) “biblical history”, “biblical biology” homophobia, sexual prudishness and an irrational hatred of everyone who isn’t Christian. They also have people who completely deny climate change.

          But things like ignorance of evolution, history, biology, math, spelling, and grammar isn’t partisan, America has a massive education problem that it by and large can’t seem to talk about.

          I also think that some of the partisan positions (America is climate change incarnate/There is no climate change) (I love all Muslims/Muslims are evil) aren’t actually positions that proponents believe, but deliberately extreme positions taken, so as to negotiate to a compromise closer to their actual position. At least I hope so.

            • There will of course be exceptions to the party lines.., it’s like fundamentalists who think homosexuality is a sin, but still vote democrat because they like socialist fiscal policies. But by and large, the anti-vax crowd sits squarely on the left.

              • Rand Paul and Donald Trump just to name a couple high profile ones. I disagree with you whole-heartedly — I was just being charitable in my initial comment. There are the Hollywood crunchy-granola types who don’t vaccinate, but they don’t have someone preaching policy. Jenny McCarthy is as close as you get and thank God we still live in a country where politicians wield more power than stupid has-been Playboy bunnies. The anti-government types who distrust the CDC and NIH are the ones who are anti-vax right now.

                  • True. But the rest of the anti-vaxxers are peppered throughout every county in the US — and they have politicians who are creating more every day. In fact, I just learned that a close friend in my neighborhood is one — scared the crap out of me. My kiddos played with her kids before they had been fully vaccinated.

                  • What are you TALKING about? See the following from Wikipedia on Orange County:

                    Orange County has long been known as a Republican stronghold and has consistently sent Republican representatives to the state and federal legislatures. Republican majorities in Orange County helped deliver California’s electoral votes to Republican presidential candidates Richard Nixon (1960, 1968 and 1972), Gerald Ford (1976), Ronald Reagan (1980, 1984), and George H. W. Bush (1988). Orange County has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1936 landslide re-election for a second term.

                • Rand Paul is not exactly anti-vax, although he does think they should be voluntary rather than mandatory. The line usually used to justify calling him anti-vax was “I’ve heard many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” His clarification attempt that I quote below seems plausible to me, because I could see myself half-assedly explaining that I understand why some people think there is a connection in that same fashion. I have been bit more than once by people thinking I said something that I definitely did NOT say, because they thought it was implied. I think it far more likely he was pandering.

                  “The point is that I have heard of – I mean who hasn’t ever met a child who has a profound disability and in the parents’ mind they see a connection,” Paul said. “But I didn’t allege there is a connection. I said I heard of people who believe there is a connection. I do think that vaccines are a good idea. I’ve been vaccinated. My kids have been vaccinated.”

        • Oooh, I think that’s partyism, Charles. Advocating illegal immigration and open borders all by itself is as dumb as as the worst thing the Tea Party advocates, as is the belief that the debt can be allowed to expand limitlessly without finally leading to disaster, that the US should back into a corner, let Russia run amuck and refuse to play the big kid on the block internationally, that it makes sense to allow gender and race to dominate the national agenda, that our leaders should evince general contempt for American ideals and accomplishments. (Do I think Michelle Obama really did feel proud of her nation for the first time when it elected her husband? I sure do, and I think he is sympatico with her.Everything I have heard and seen supports that conclusion.) Occupy Democrats is a good comp for the most extreme tea party position. Heck, I could argue that for sheer evil results, abortion on demand takes the prize. Is denying climate change stupider than spending billions on anti-climate change policies that are almost certain to change nothing? Is stupidly insisting that illegals be deported any more stupid than allowing them to pour in unchecked? Are Truthers more intelligent than Birthers?

          I think it’s just a matter of taste and bias to choose either side with confidence.

          When I read a Facebook friend going on about what a successful President Obama has been–and this is a college-educated, non-mouth-breathing one—I can’t imagine any conservative saying anything less intelligent, or less justifiable on the facts, including advocating granite chips as a tasty snack.

        • On the Dem side, we have this:


          On the Dem side, we have people advocating that colleges expel people for suspicion of rape if there is only a 20% chance of guilt.

          On the Dem side, we have the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights pretending to be the Supreme Court, coming up with completely ludicrous interpretations of Title IX such that it requires a preponderance of evidence standard when adjudicating sexual harassment claims, and that it prohibits cross-examination of witnesses.

          On the Dem side, we have people arguing that rape is as common in college campuses as it is in the war-torn Congo region of Africa.

          On the Dem side, we have the Justice Department threatening to punish schools for racial discrimination if they choose to punish misconduct.

          On the Dem side, we have the EEOC suing businesses for running criminal background checks on the basis that it is racist.

          On the Dem side, we have the same people claiming that requiring a photo ID to vote is racist because it places a disparate burden on minorities, while simultaneously supporting universal background checks on firearm purchases, ignoring any concerns about a disparate impact on minorities

          On the Dem side, we have accusations that the police are racist, while simultaneously claiming that these police officers be trusted with discretion to decide who may carry a concealed weapon.

          On the Dem side, we have people claiming that an employer is imposing religion and denying access to women’s health if they refuse to offer health insurance that includes contraception without co-pay, even though it would be ludicrous to claim that employers are imposing their religion and denying access to women’s wine if they refuse to offer coupons for BevMo.

          Who in Congress ever advocated that people should be imprisoned for saying that evolution is true?

  3. Well , the chances of a Muslim being elected as President in the USA today are zero so I think Carson stirred up a hornets nest that didn’t need to be kicked. Perhaps his poor performance in the debate motivated this statement. However, Islam does require all Muslims to follow the 5 basic tenets of the faith which includes obedience to Sharia law. Hence, until Islam goes though a reformation, I would not vote for one as President of the USA.

    • Carson was baited with a gotcha question, and somewhat like Charles Green in this thread, Carson responded, “Okay, I’ll bite.” Islam going through a reformation is as improbable as American progressives demanding much smaller government budgets (in ALL departments, not just the breaking-things-and-killing-people-on-foreign-lands military).

  4. Remember that advertisement that sunk Goldwater in ’64? A little girl picking daises and kaboom! The bloody shirt sells and just show a one minute clip of the Twin Towers. Game over.

  5. I think I’m going to go with something I heard on CNN the other day regarding this and Trump’s failure to “correct” one of his supporters – both situations show candidates without a lot of political savvy. Perhaps their supporters find that charming and “telling it like it is.” I think it’s not a good quality for someone who must needs think on his/her feet for the next 4 to 8 years.

    • There’s a difference, I think, between policy and poor wording. If Carson has a point, but put it out there poorly, perhaps we as the electorate should interpret such mistakes gently in favor of common sense. The alternative being a culture of “Got’cha!” I remember Obama on the campaign trail fumbling a point and saying that America had 57 states, and he’s probably the best spoken elected official I’ve ever heard.

  6. Islamic scholars have declared that Islam is compatible with democracy, but the fine print notes that it assumes an Islamic majority, the public would only be allowed to elect Muslims, and Islamic clerics would have a large say over the government. Under those conditions, Islamic scholars conclude that Islam is compatible with democracy. It is not, however compatible in a country that insists that all religious groups have equal rights under the law, that women will be treated equally, and a country in which Muslims may convert to other religions or criticize Islam, Mohammed, or Allah.

    Remember, Sharia law is not some optional thing in Islam, it is a major part of the Koran. To have Islam without Sharia is like the ‘Christianity’ of the Jesus Seminar, one that denies the divinity of Christ, and that insists that the only part of Christianity that is valid is the part that does not match the beliefs of Jews or early Christians.

  7. The strict tenets of Islam are inconsistent with American ideals and principles, among them the separation of religion and state, individual autonomy, treatment of women and acceptance of those of other faiths.

    Neither are the strict tenets of the faith followed by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. See these verses:

    Deut 17:2-5

    Lev. 20:13

    Yet a devout Muslim poses more risks to our democracy than an atheist.

    More so than a devout Jew?

    I never heard Senator Dianne Feinstein advocating that we enact Deut 17:2-5 nor Lev. 20:13 into law.

    • Orthodox Jews do require their congregation members to follow dietary guidelines as found in Leviticus. However, they represent only a tiny percentage of Jews in America. Most Jews in the US are reformed or totally secular. It is highly unlikely that a US President who is Jewish would try to force non Jews to follow all the guidelines that Orthodox Jews are supposed to follow.

  8. At this point, I’ve pretty much concluded our current president isn’t incompetent. All the havoc he’s wrought upon the rest of the world as well as here at home has been intentional. He really, really hates the United States. He’s his father’s son, an anti-colonialist, scholarship educated hater of all things Western. It has been his intent to diminish to the point of extinction the US’s influence in the world. He wants to destabilize domestic US relations because he’s a black panther/Saul Alinsky community disorganizer. He’s not inept, he’s checking every box on his to-do list. And frankly, even if he says he’s a Christian, he acts as if he’s a Muslim theocrat, so what’s the difference? He seems to want to see the Mullahs in Iran (and the Castros) succeed. The bear is loose indeed.

    • “And frankly, even if he says he’s a Christian, he acts as if he’s a Muslim theocrat, so what’s the difference?”

      Yes, who can forget all the Muslim theocrats who let gays into their military and mandated contraception coverage?

      There are plenty of legitimate critiques of Obama; yours are too stupid to merit consideration.

      (Also, pretty sure the Founders were “anti-colonialist” as well.)

  9. Here’s a rehash of what I wrote on the second post on Carson/Islam…

    Didn’t we go through all this with JFK? “Oh my God! A Roman Catholic as president? Would he pay obeisance to the Pope or the US Constitution?” That question was aptly answered (partially, perhaps, because his behavior was hardly in line with many Roman Catholic teachings…)

    But the difference is that Islam — that ancient, long-revered and accepted religion — is now tainted because it has used its teachings (in powerful quarters and entire countries, like Iran) to become totally political, and violently so. And people, political groups and nations have used Islam’s basic teachings to tell the world what their real goal is — to eradicate all non-Muslims. No one with a brain thinks that all Muslims believe this: but with a major world power espousing it, attitudes can get dicey.

    Religion can and does (and has, historically) play a part in an individual’s choice for president of the United States. And why not? A voter’s opinion of a candidate can be formed by many things, including both facts and bias. Scientologists and the Amish (as noted above) have a belief system that would interfere with the workings of government as put forth in the Constitution. So would Quakers. But if Scientology, Amish and Quaker candidates can say that’s not true, then they’re not real Scientologists, Amish, or Quakers anyway.

    Ben Carson’s real problem is not that he is unintelligent, quite the contrary: but he is not a campaigner, speaks his mind in the short sound bites he is given, and is not a strong enough personality to demand the time to explain fully what he wants to purport. He would be a good, thoughtful, precise, and intelligent member of any Presidential Administration, and the country would be the better for it. He just isn’t Presidential timbre, and doesn’t understand what “leadership” means in Presidential terms.

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