You would think that after his incendiary remarks about slavery a couple of months ago, Ben Carson would just stay away from microphones altogether.
To recap, Carson, President Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, equated slaves with immigrants, igniting a firestorm of backlash from critics confused over how someone so smart could say something so stupid.
Well, Carson is at it again.
Just as his boss is backing a bill that would strip away affordable health care, and pushing a budget that would decimate programs for poor and working-class families, Carson delivered a mind-boggling, simplistic assessment about what separates haves from the have-nots in America.
“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind,” Carson said in an interview on Sirius XM Radio that aired Wednesday. “You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there.”
But Carson did not stop there, because people who say ignorant things as often as they wash their hands don’t quite know when to stop.
“You take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world — they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom,” Carson said.
But wait. There was more. There always is.
“If everybody had a mother like mine, nobody would be in poverty,” Carson said. “She was a person who absolutely would not accept the status of victim.”
So, why not just insult everybody’s mother, while you’re at it?
The backlash was quick, to the point and undeniably well deserved.
“Ben Carson says that poverty is a ‘state of mind,’ tweeted Star Trek alum George Takei. “You know what else is a state of mind? Always being a blithering idiot.”
“So 15 million American children in poverty just need better attitudes and they’ll have food in their stomachs and roofs over their heads?” tweeted former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
That’s as naive as thinking a can of Pepsi at a protest will bridge the racial divide.
The whole blame-the-poor-for-being-poor thing might not be so bad if it weren’t coming from someone in charge of an agency that serves such a large low-income population.
Christine Quinn, the former city council speaker, who now heads Win, an agency providing shelter and support services to homeless women and their children, says blaming the victim is a lot easier than actually helping the victim.
“It’s a convenient, intellectually lazy argument that lets politicians blame the victims of structural inequality, instead of doing the hard work of helping them,” Quinn said. “It’s a claim especially unworthy of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, whose stated mission is to ‘create strong, sustainable and inclusive communities.’”
Carson seems to think that growing up in poverty himself gives him the right to pass judgment on on poor people and their small-minded mothers.
It’s kind of like how Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas benefited from affirmative action, but railed against it from the bench.
But Thomas did break ground this week to side with the court’s liberal minority on a ruling that outlawed racially gerrymandered districts in North Carolina.
Maybe there’s still hope for Carson.