Liberals were tripping over themselves to mock and criticize Ben Carson for his remarks this week about immigrants, but they were handed a cold dose of reality when the conservative press reminded them that their grand hero, Barack Obama, had made similar comments just a couple of years ago.
The media jumped on Secretary Carson when his speech to senior staff at HUD included these comments: “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. 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.”
But in the dogpile, no one bothered to point out Obama’s comments from 2015 until Breitbart and Armstrong Williams brought it out into the light:
“Life in America was not always easy,” Obama said at a naturalization ceremony. “It wasn’t always easy for new immigrants. Certainly it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily, and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves. There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more.”
But if we ever expected the left to hold Democrats to the same standard they hold Republicans, we’re just as foolish as they are.
Liberals accused Carson of minimizing slavery, apparently unaware of the fact that it’s beyond minimizing at this point. No one in mainstream America is seriously walking around thinking, “You know, the slaves actually didn’t have it that bad. I reckon I wouldn’t have minded being a slave back in them days…”
And frankly, what if there were people who thought that? What difference does it make? Why should anyone be offended? The only people who should get upset are those who were actually slaves, and there aren’t too many of them around anymore (Frederick Douglass notwithstanding). Does anyone really think this country is in any danger of re-instituting slavery? Of course not. So why does this kind of thing make people so upset?
Well, there are two reasons. Reason 1: It doesn’t. It’s an act. Liberals use the living guilt of a dead generation to find faults in the America of today. Slavery is why white people should never be trusted. Slavery is why black people need extra help from the government. Slavery is the stain that modern whites must wear on their sleeves. Slavery was reborn as the justice system. Slavery was reborn as the shooting of Michael Brown. Slavery was reborn as the election of Donald Trump. It is one of those rhetorical weapons you can use when you’re in danger of losing an argument. You ran out of logic? Just scream: “400 years of oppression!” and you’re off the hook. It’s right up there with referencing Hitler. If you dare to keep arguing, you’re now defending The Worst Evil of All Time. Even if that evil has absolutely nothing to do with the debate at hand.
Then there’s Reason 2, which is a little less strategic and a little more psychological. And that comes down to the fact that modern black Americans – not all, by any means, but enough – have a great deal of their identity wrapped up in slavery. This phenomenon – drawing strength from things that your ancestors accomplished or survived – is not unique to African-Americans by any means. And when it serves a positive purpose in your life, it’s great. If it inspires you to make as much of your life as possible, that’s terrific. But if you carry it around like a burden you have to bear or an excuse for why you can’t succeed, then it’s no longer helping you. Your ancestors already suffered enough; they don’t need you to suffer for them. And in a real sense, you don’t deserve to claim their pain as your own. What they went through was real. For you, it’s just an idea in your head.
These two causes generate most of the outrage when something like this happens. It’s nothing to take seriously. Carson’s point was valid. If you’re really upset about it, you should really do some soul-searching and see if you aren’t identifying with someone else’s suffering. If so, why not drop it? Don’t you have enough of your own?