In USA Today Op-ed, Ben Carson Criticizes 2016 Republican Presidential Contenders for Refusing to Call Charleston Shooting ‘Racism’

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You can’t lead if you can’t face the facts.

Not everything is about race in this country. But when it is about race, then it just is. So when a guy who has been depicted wearing a jacket featuring an apartheid-era Rhodesian flag allegedly walks into a historic black church and guns down nine African-American worshipers at a Bible study meeting, common sense leads one to believe his motivations are based in racism. When a survivor of the ordeal reports that the killer shouted before opening fire, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go” — well, that sounds to me a lot like racial hatred.

Let’s call this sickness what it is, so we can get on with the healing. If this were a medical disease, and all the doctors recognized the symptoms but refused to make the diagnosis for fear of offending the patient, we could call it madness. But there are people who are claiming that they can lead this country who dare not call this tragedy an act of racism, a hate crime, for fear of offending a particular segment of the electorate.

I understand the sensitivities. To some, calling the events in Charleston, S.C., a hate crime reinforces a stigma, which they have fought hard to put behind them. But refusing to call it what it is — racism — is a far more dangerous proposition. It reminds me of the early response to Ebola. American health officials were alerted to an epidemic in West Africa, and yet when a patient who had recently left one of the most affected regions showed up at a hospital displaying all the symptoms, the doctors failed to diagnose his condition. This not only led to the eventual death of the patient due to inadequate care but also exposed dozens of others to the deadly virus. When you wait too long to identify the problem, you miss your best chance to stop it.

We know what’s at stake here, so let’s stop all the interpretive dance around the obvious. Was it a depraved act of violence? Of course. Was it an act of unspeakable evil? Affirmative. Was it an attack on innocent Christians? Manifestly so. Is this killer a sick individual? In my professional opinion, yes, he is. What is his sickness? It’s the sickness of racism, a spiritual sickness that distorts the mind and heart and causes irrational and baseless fear and hatred in people of all colors. Racism was once epidemic in America, but through struggle, sacrifice, soul-searching and meaningful social change, we have made much progress. Clearly, the struggle is far from finished, and we must own up to that fact and that challenge.

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SOURCE: USA Today
Ben S. Carson

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