June 7, 2020

In his appearance on CNN's State of the Union, HUD Secretary Ben Carson denied there was systemic racism and gave a simplistic answer to the criticism NFL players received for protesting it.

After Carson ducked a straightforward question about why Carson is calling for healing while Trump is tweeting incendiary videos, the conversation moved on to the question of systemic racism and whether it's a problem in law enforcement. Carson's answer is one for the ages. Here's the first part:

Let's say this, I grew up at a time when there was real systemic racism. I remember as an eighth grade student I was the only black student, I got the highest academic achievement and the teacher got up and berated the other students they weren't trying hard enough because a black kid was number one. And that kind of thing was not uncommon when I was growing up. That kind of thing is very uncommon now. Are there still racists around? Absolutely. There were yesterday, there are today, and there will be tomorrow. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't fight it and this is an opportune time, right now, people are concentrating on this, we can't let this moment slip away. We need to deal with some of the issues ss in the police departments, but it is this -- it is an easy time to do it. We have policemen who are rogue, the vast majority of policemen are wonderful. But you have some who are rogue, and they can go from one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction. And nobody does anything about it. They can be wearing body cameras, there are things that can be done, but we need to come to mutual solutions about this and now is the time to do it. Everybody is concentrating on it, let's not let this moment slip away.

So no systemic racism because teachers can't berate white kids in school for falling behind the Black kid, but we should still use this moment to work on things. Okaaaay. But you know it didn't end there. No, no it did not.

"At the same time, we must be very vigilant about these groups of anarchists who destroy the livelihoods of the very people they claim to be trying to help," Carson cautioned. Just for the record, anarchists are bad. But he wasn't actually talking about the actual bad anarchists and Boogaloo Bois who really do want to just bring down all the structures in this country. That was a big dog whistle and bow to Fox News fearmongering about "antifa," the mystery group they use as boogeymen.

"The president reiterated Friday that he still opposes those who protest police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem," Tapper reminded Carson. "You said you support peaceful protests. Do you support NFL players exercising that right to peacefully protest by kneeling during the anthem?"

Carson dismissed that disagreement. "There are some people talking about the flag, talking about our veterans, talking about people who sacrificed their lives, talking about police officers, and there are others who are talking about injustice in the system and they're arguing past each other," he said. "That's the problem."

Tapper wasn't letting it go that easily, reminding Carson that Trump called kneeling NFL players "sons of bitches" for peacefully protesting police brutality and taking a knee during the National Anthem.

Carson's prescription was predictably simplistic. "My personal feeling is if those players were to come out and say we love our nation, we are patriots, we love our flag, we honor the memory of those who died to give us our freedom, but we are protesting some of the brutality that has occurred and that's why we're doing this, I think it would solve the problem and I suggested they do that," he told Tapper.

I don't think any one of those NFL players said anything to suggest they didn't love our nation. Why should they have to explain their dissent? This is typical of these conservatives who always opt for the optics of a thing over the principle of a thing. Just make it look like you're not protesting in order to bury the principle of the protest itself.

A pox on that.

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