In his first remarks this week to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) employees, Secretary of HUD Ben Carson called slaves “immigrants,” that had hopes for the American Dream, comments that sent the media in an uproar. From print to television to social media, journalists and celebrities alike condemned the remarks as extremely offensive. Yet the media forgot that former President Obama has also compared slaves to immigrants, and not just once, but several times.
First, take a look at just a sampling of how the media reacted to Carson’s comments (which should be noted, he later apologized for not speaking more carefully.)
On ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday, Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos were visibly slack-jawed at the comparison. “Come on. Outrageous!” Roberts remarked while Stephanopoulos shook his head.
Later on the same network, Whoopi Goldberg slammed Carson on The View. “Were the slaves really thinking about the American dream?” she asked. “No, because they were thinking, ‘What the hell just happened?’”
On CNN Tonight Monday, guest Michael Eric Dyson was furious, calling it “One of the most atrocious acts of historical revisionism,” while Symone Sanders called the comments “egregious.” On Anderson Cooper 360, analyst Angela Rye exploded at the comments, calling them “treacherous” in a rant.
On Twitter the outrage machine wasn’t any less dramatic.
OK!! Ben Carson....I can't! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAFUKKA PLEASE!!!#dickheadedtom— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) March 6, 2017
I want to fight Ben Carson!! Cash me outside muthafucka! How bout dat!! #Slaveswerenotimmigrants FUCKFACE!!— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) March 7, 2017
This can't be real. Slaves were not & are not immigrants. 2017. https://t.co/8CuUvnR2Mf— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 6, 2017
Also at the New York Times, Frank Bruni wrote disparagingly, “There’s nothing normal about Carson.” Bruni went on to remind viewers of Carson’s past, socially conservative comments that offended the left.
“Carson is the only African-American in Trump’s cabinet, and he’s a great lesson — for the left as well as the right — that sensitivity is a function of sensibility, not merely of complexion or membership in a given identity group,” he wrote.
Maybe Bruni should apply the same “lesson” to President Obama, who made similar remarks to Carson’s an amazing eleven times. Where was the media’s uproar then?
The most recent example being in December 2015, when Obama expressed the exact same idea as Carson at a naturalization ceremony:
OBAMA: And perhaps, like some of you, these new arrivals might have had some moments of doubt, wondering if they had made a mistake in leaving everything and everyone they ever knew behind. So life in America was not always easy. 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.
Obama also made similar comments about slaves being immigrants pursuing the American Dream in eleven other instances, the Federalist’s Bre Payton wrote.
CNN’s Jake Tapper noted this in a tweet as well:
Between this and "Iphone" fauxtrage, that's 2x in 24 hours of folks getting mad at GOPer for remark v similar to ones Obama made https://t.co/WnLKVKEa1u— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 8, 2017