Ben Carson: Muslim comments taken out of context

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Ben Carson: Muslim comments taken out of context

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Nick Graham
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson greets Marjorie Pitzer in the front row after a campaign rally Tuesday at the Sharonville Convention Center.

Carson’s positions on:

Education: Carson supports Ed Choice for every school-age child, and said the students who have the best chances to succeed are those who are home schooled and attend private schools. While some public schools excel, he said most do not. And he had one word for Common Core: “Out.”

Immigration: Carson supports building a “high-level” fence and ensuring border guards are on the border. He also said border security is also needed to the East, West and North, saying it’s not the people form Mexico and El Salvador we have to worry about, “it’s the radical jihadists.” He agrees with giving illegal immigrants with a “pristine record” a chance to earn a guest worker permit, but would only be eligible for jobs Americans do not want such as on farms. He said illegal immigrants who commit crimes — which he called “scumbags” — will be deported.

Marijuana: Carson said he “absolutely” supports medical marijuana, but said “that is very different from legalizing it for recreational use. I would not do that under any circumstance.”

The economy: “The Fed (Federal Reserve) has artificially oppressed the interest rate for nearly a decade now, and ‘Joe the Butcher’ is not incentived enough to put that money in a savings account, and people are not saving, they’re not seeing any growth in their money. The traditional mechanism for the middle class and the lower class to gain money was through a bank, bonds, coupons, things of that nature. Now, the only way to grow your money financially is through the stock market, but you have to have certain risk tolerance to put your money in the stock market. And the only people with that kind of risk tolerance are rich people.”

Innovation: “If we have policies that allow the innovation and the ingenuity and the hard work of the American people … and not interfere with it by imposing all kinds of external things. We have very creative people and all we have to do is to not get in the way of that hard work and ingenuity. What I believe in is letting the strong survive and whoever is doing the best job, let them rise, and if someone is doing a bad job, there’s no such thing as too big to fail.”

Dr. Ben Carson, the Republican presidential candidate who said a Muslim wouldn’t be fit to sit in the Oval Office, blamed a “P.C. culture” for the backlash he’s getting, during a campaign trip Tuesday in Southwest Ohio.

Before a morning campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Center — the first of three stops in the Cincinnati-Dayton region — the retired neurosurgeon reiterated that anyone wanting to be president must embrace the Constitution and American principles. He also said he would oppose any Christian for president with their sights on a theocracy.

Carson said his comments that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” were taken out of context and were not about people of the Muslim faith, but those who adhere to radical Islam.

“I said that anybody, regardless of their religion or affiliation, if they embrace American values and they embrace the Constitution at the top level, that I’m supportive of them,” Carson told reporters during a press conference in advance of the rally. “That is what I said first. That part nobody heard.”

But some area Muslims say they are “extremely disappointed” in Carson’s lack of knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and his “bigoted views toward Muslims.”

“I think myself, and especially young people in the community, has respect for all he has achieved and contributed professionally, (but) kids born and raised here and citizens like myself have been extremely surprised for the lack of knowledge of the American Constitution,” said Shakila Ahmad, president of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, which is located in West Chester Twp.

While Ahmad isn’t calling for Carson, a Seventh Day Adventist, to drop from the race, she is asking him to “educate himself about the Constitution and the fact there is no religious litmus test to serve our country.”

A Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman, however, called Carson’s comments “un-American,” and the group has demanded he drop from the race.

Cathina Hourani, a former candidate for the Ohio House and a Muslim, said Carson’s comments were “prejudice towards an entire class of American citizens” and those comments “have crossed the line.”

“In reality, there should be no place for prejudicial people like Dr. Ben Carson, and people like that should not be holding any high office in these United States of America,” said Hourani, a Liberty Twp. resident.

Carson told reporters Tuesday that people seem to be interested in his comments over the weekend, which he called “a juicy story,” and not on the “many important issues going on” in this country and around the world.

And while Carson didn’t talk about his controversial remarks to the crowd of 1,500 supporters who packed the convention center he did allude to them.

“We should be proud of who we are, and there’s no way we should be giving away all of our values and principles to try to be politically correct and to be like somebody else,” said Carson. “It is true that we are not a theocracy, and I don’t want us to be a theocracy, but it is also true that our Constitution and our country’s traditions have a Judeo-Christian base. … It’s throughout our fabric … and there’s no way we should be ashamed of it.”

Carson, who is currently third in most national polls among the GOP presidential candidates behind front-runner Donald Trump and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, touted his political platform to the cheering crowd, including his proposal to build a fence on the U.S. southern board and cutting out Common Core.

Some Carson supporters at the Sharonville rally said they heard what they wanted from their candidate, and stand by what he said on national television this past weekend.

Alexander Kogan, a retired physician originally form Russia residing in Cincinnati for nearly three decades, said he should have clarified his comments, however, by saying he “would support a peaceful Islam.”

“He was absolutely right when he said what he said, that he would not support a Muslim to be president of the United States of America at this particular time in which we are living. But if I was Dr. Carson, I would have elaborated,” Kogan said.

Andrea Brockman, of the Dayton suburb of Sugarcreek Twp., believes the issue will fade away “just like everything else.” She said that people will “jump on board” the Carson bandwagon “if people get more of an opportunity to listen to him.” But that’s difficult because of the lack of debate face time, but he’s doing well in the national polls because of events like the one in Sharonville and those held Tuesday afternoon at Cedarville University and University of Dayton Arena.

“He’s going to the different cities and he’s doing face-to-face (events) with small groups. That’s where he’s getting that, and that’s also where he’s getting his money,” said Brockman, who has donated to his campaign and volunteered to work Sharonville rally. “He can’t get it the other way politicians do, or the way Donald Trump does, so he’s getting it from people like me.”

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