So, today, Ben Carson said something rather reasonable and people dog-piled him as though it was a serious gaff. He compared abortion to slavery. There was fun poked at his now repeated use of “the holocaust” and “slavery” to make extreme comparisons to certain modern institutions. I can neither affirm nor deny the aptness of those individual comparisons, but pointing out the fact that they are being made, no matter how often, does not seem to address that aptness either.
No, thankfully, there was no issue with Carson’s racial privilege stepping over its bounds. The issue was with the comparison itself being untrue and unreasonable, as I can attest to people being quick to point out on Facebook’s news feed, with many a misquote of the original transcript placed inappropriately within quotations:
- “Showing a medical degree does not mean you are intelligent. He compared abortion to slavery. One has zero to do with the other. Forgets slave owners could do whatever they wanted to their slaves. Which is why owning a human was not only barbaric but made illegal and Unconstitutional. Also feels rape and incest are no reason for abortion because many people lead useful lives that were products of rape.”
- “‘…Mothers should not have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, Carson said, just as slave owners did not have the right to do whatever they wanted to their slaves.’ WTF CARSON? How the [*#@%] is he tied for frontrunner? You don’t form complete thoughts.”
- “What Carson said: Mothers should not have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, Carson said, just as slave owners did not have the right to do whatever they wanted to their slaves. Had abolitionists allowed that, he said, “Where would we be?” Okay, I didn’t know that slaves had rights?? I didn’t know that slaveowners didn’t have the right to do whatever they wanted to their slaves!! Evidently the slaves didn’t [get] the memo!!! Plus, how can you compare the two issues!!?? Really, Ben, really???!!”
These things should, of course, be held in contrast with the actual transcript:
During slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave. Anything that they chose to do. And, you know, what if the abolitionist had said, you know, ‘I don’t believe in slavery. I think it’s wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do’? Where would we be?
DR. BEN CARSON: I’m a reasonable person. And if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I’ll listen.
CHUCK TODD: Life and health of the mother?
DR. BEN CARSON: Again, that’s a extraordinarily rare situation. But if in that very rare situation it occurred, I believe there’s room to discuss that.
CHUCK TODD: Rape and incest?
DR. BEN CARSON: Rape and incest, I would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way. And all you have to do is go and look up the many stories of people who have led very useful lives who were the result of rape or incest.
True to his word, Carson made a very reasonable presentation of a very reasonable position. It is a position that is unpopular, tastes bad in the mouths of some, but ultimately is not unreasonable as though any of it is logically unsound.
As to the Facebook comments, with which I was only the slightliest bit enraged (enough to write a blog post) I would like to address how Ben Carson is in fact responsibly comparing abortion to slavery. I will not approach the “my body, my choice” dynamic of the comments. Just the slavery/abortion comparison. For some of you this may be a review. For others, a much needed exercise.
Slavery v. Abortion:
Opposing sides on either issue are arguing over the autonomy, rights, and basic humanity of the victims in question.
Full grown people are considered the property of their possessor versus developing, but no less, people considered the property of their possessor
One oppressor argues against civil/human rights based on victim’s appearance, unintelligence/illiteracy, reducing them to a troublesome mass of animal instinct that only appear human versus The other oppressor who argues against personhood by appealing to the victim’s appearance, inability to defend/prove their humanity, reducing them to a lump of cells with, at their greatest credit, some partial nerve endings (with which to kick and silently scream at incoming needles infusing amniotic fluid with a saline solution that will burn them alive–but never mind that)
Oppressors of both cases appeal to science in order to explain the inhumanity of their victims. Anatomy is pointed to as evidence that the victims greater resemble an animal than a human. Same thing, different expression: “Don’ their faces, that nose, those lips, jus look like an apes!?” versus “phylotypic period” of development.
One oppressor keeps a tight hand on the reigns for fear that the victim might endanger their way of life by becoming a liability if allowed to develop independent thoughts and consider themselves a person with rights versus The other oppressor keeps a tight reign on definitions and sovereignty for fear that the victim might endanger their way of life and become a liability if ever allowed to develop and become something that society might consider a person
Ownership, even after abolition, was often extorted by entrapping their victims with the claim that they owed, by increasing debt, their continued existence to the material providence of their captors versus ownership claimed by declaring the resident being no more than a parasite that cannot live on its own outside of the physical provision of its host
Being thus owned, the victim of either case may be claimed or denied at the will of the possessor should mood, financial costs, weather, rainfall, wind-speed, cuesta de juevos en China (or Mexico, evidently), health, digestion (etc.) change.
African slavers inhumanely selling people of their own race to people they know can do inhumane things to them, if of course they happened to survive the trip versus people donating the lives of people (almost always guaranteed to not survive the trip — they’ve got that stuff down to a science) who share their race, eye color, nose, chromosomes, and all other traces of genetic lineage to people who, according to video evidence, will pour the tiny arms and legs of their donation from a freezer bag into a casserole dish if you feign the right credentials and a certain amount of interest.
Both cases are large institutions from which there is clear opportunity for profit.
Both cases claim that their institutions will increase national productivity: one by increasing national material output for trade and boosting the economy, the other by defending the poor from unwanted costs of motherhood and furthering scientific research
One set of Abolitionists were considered crazy radicals opposed to a long-standing tradition represented and defended in government as an acceptable, reasoned institution (3/5ths Compromise, Fugitive Slave Act, Article IV Section II of the Constitution), opposed to progress, endangering the livelihood of those dependent upon the institution, and general bullies to those who just want to be left alone to do what they like with what is theirs versus The current abolitionists who are considered all the same things for all the same reasons (Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Belotti v. Baird).
Then, there’s this handy chart I found, which makes a wonderful testament to the value of a brief Google search:
Dred Scott (1857), 7-2 decision
– Denied citizenship to an entire class of people based on
– Property rights of slaveholder trump the interests of the
slave, who has no rights.
– Sought to decide the slavery issue once and for all, but
led to the Civil War.
– Overturned by Congress in the 13th, 14th, and 15th
Roe v. Wade (1973), 7-2 decision
– Denied personhood to an entire class of people based
– Privacy rights of mother trump the interests of the unborn
child, who has no rights.
– Sought to decide the abortion issue once and for all, but
over thirty years later the country is still divided.
– Ironically, Roe relied on the 14th Amendment, which
restored the human dignity that the Court had stripped
from persons of African descent, to deny that dignity to
the unborn over 100 years later.
This defense of Carson’s statement, as always, should not be taken a sign of my personal and undying support of Ben Carson as President. It should be viewed as a defense (period). Again, this may have just been a review for some. But, if this was uncomfortable news to you, I guess what I’m really trying to say is…