Ben Carson, Bigot

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Yesterday presidential candidate Ben Carson was asked if he could ever support a Muslim president. Carson, channeling a significant portion of the American electorate, said that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” This proclamation is presently receiving the rebuke that it deserves, though it could stand for even more, if only because of its ugly sanctimony.

Ben Carson is a Christian—a fact he shares in common with all our greatest domestic terrorists and self-styled Indian-killers. From slave-holding to ethnic cleansing, Christianity has repeatedly been employed to sanctify our most shameful acts. One might counter that Christianity has also been employed to inspire our most honorable acts. But this is a level of complexity that Carson’s ilk do not grant to Islam. To Carson, Islam is terror and nothing else.

Christians, fully conscious of their own pedigree, need not completely renounce their faith, nor repudiate their scripture. (If a man seeks to plunder you, Dr. Seuss will suffice for showing cause.) But you would think a wise Christian would be more humble. Carson is neither humble nor wise. Carson is a bigot playing to a base that considers bigotry to be a feature, not a bug.