Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson is trading on his medical reputation to ride a wave of media hype, but upon closer examination, many of his views are contradictory or emulate the uninformed chatter of a right-wing radio shock jock.
Carson rose to prominence in the conservative media last year for a speech attacking the Affordable Care Act at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama. After that, he was hired by Fox News, became a regular on the conservative speaking circuit, joined Newt Gingrich's dubious political action committee, and launched an online magazine in coordination with the Washington Times (where he also writes an opinion column).
Carson has experienced increased media attention as The National Draft Ben Carson political action committee announced that it had brought in $2.4 million in donations in the first quarter of 2014. The Washington Post reports that the PAC, which operates independently of Carson, has spent an unusually high percentage of its income on fundraising.
Despite his newfound media spotlight, Carson has espoused extremist views on several issues, has used incendiary, decisive rhetoric to attack things he disagrees with, and has apparently inverted his view on health care in order to appeal to his new conservative constituency.
Carson Said Obamacare Was "Slavery, In A Way"
In a speech to the 2013 Values Voters' Summit, Carson said that the Affordable Care Act is "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery," and went on to describe the law as "slavery, in a way."
Carson Said "Socialized Medicine Is The Keystone Of The Arch To The Socialist State"
In an appearance on Fox's The Kelly File, Carson argued, "Vladimir Lenin, one of the founders of socialism and communism, he said socialized medicine is the keystone of the arch to the socialist state. In other words, you've got to get the socialized medicine as the foundation because it gives you control of the people. Once you have control of them, you can do what you want."
Carson Now Opposes Obamacare, Once Said "We Need To Get Rid Of For Profit Insurance Companies"
Carson's record shows previous advocacy for greater government involvement in health care, which appears to contradict with what he now advocates.
He told Politico that "If you just go back and read the neo-Marxists, you'll see why getting control of health care was so important to them."
But in a 2009 interview with Mega Diversities, Carson said "the entire concept of for profits for the insurance companies makes absolutely no sense," going on to argue that "the first thing we need to do is get rid of for profit insurance companies."
Carson added, "We have a lack of policies and we need to make the government responsible for catastrophic health care. We have to make the insurance companies responsible only for routine health care."
Carson Compared Marriage Equality Advocates To Pedophiles, Described Marriage Equality As "Extra Rights"
In his speech earlier this year to the conservative CPAC conference, Carson argued that gay people shouldn't be allowed to "get extra rights" and that "they don't get to redefine marriage."
It was a continuation of his incendiary rhetoric on homosexuality.
In a 2013 appearance on Fox's Hannity, Carson said, "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."
After those comments, students and staff at Johns Hopkins Medical School criticized Carson, who was scheduled to be the commencement speaker for the class of 2013. He pushed back on these complaints by attacking white liberals as "the most racist people there are" because "they put you in a little category, a little box, 'you have to think this way, how could you dare come off the plantation?'"
In his 2012 book, Carson said marriage equality "is a slippery slope with a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire."
Carson Praised Vladimir Putin As He Attacked America
In a column Carson praised Russia's Vladimir Putin for describing America as "godless," saying "there may be some validity to his claim."
Carson Questioned The Ethics Of People Who Support The Theory Of Evolution
Carson said people who believe in the scientific theory of evolution "might have more difficulty deriving where their ethics come from," compared to "Those of us who believe in God and derive our sense of right and wrong and ethics from God's word" who "have no difficulty whatsoever defining where our ethics come from."
In an interview with an anti-evolution podcast, Carson claimed that "one of the most damning pieces of evidence against evolution is the human genome" because it contains "sophisticated coding mechanisms" which are proof of an intelligent designer in its creation.