Since his initial comments on Sunday, Mr. Carson has sought to fend off accusations that he was promoting discrimination while refusing to walk back his comments. As the Republican candidate continues to face questions on the matter, we are tracing how he has threaded the rhetorical needle.Carson would say he's not doing any such thing. I think he sincerely believes that he hasn't walked anything back at any time. I think he also believes he's said nothing offensive, and that all of his statements are perfectly compatible with American values.
Oh sure, first he said categorically on Meet the Press that Islam contradicts the Constitution:
CHUCK TODD:Then he claimed, in an interview with Sean Hannity, that he opposes any theocrat:
So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the constitution?
DR. BEN CARSON:
No, I don't, I do not.
DR. BEN CARSON:
I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.
... we do not put people at the leadership of our country whose faith might interfere with them carrying out the duties of the Constitution. So if, for instance, you believe in a theocracy, I don't care if you're a Christian, if you're a Christian and you're running for president and you want to make this into a theocracy, I'm not going to support you. I'm not going to advocate you being the president.And he's said that he's perfectly okay with certain Muslims running for president -- while claiming that all of this is consistent and clear:
During a press conference in Sharonville, Ohio, Carson ... pointed specfically to his initial claim in the interview that he would have no issue with a Muslim who puts the Constitution and American values first, a statement he says "nobody heard."How does all this fit together? I'll explain.
"If people listened to that interview, they'll notice that I said that anybody regardless of their religion or affiliation, if they embrace American values and they place the Constituion at the top level, then I'm supportive of them," Carson said. "That was what I said first. That part, nobody heard."
... "Again, it seems to be hard for people to actually hear English and understand it."
"I said I would support anyone regardless of their background if in fact they embrace American values and our Constitution, and are willing to place that above their beliefs," Carson said before adding that, "Sharia Law is completely antithetical to Americanism."
On Meet the Press, he categorically rejected the notion of a Muslim president because, to him, a Muslim is presumed guilty of being a theocrat until proven innocent. Proof of innocence, to Carson, is a showy renunciation of sharia law, which all U.S. Muslims are assumed to desire for America.
Other candidates -- or maybe just Christians and Jews -- have no need to make a great show of renouncing theocracy, because, to Carson, they're presumed innocent of wanting to establish a theocracy. You can trust Christians. You can trust Jews. You just can't trust Muslims. Not unless they swear they're not fifth columnists.
See? It's all simple, consistent, and not offensive -- right?