13 Times Ben Carson Got Facts Wrong On Issues A President Shouldn't Be Wrong About
Ben Carson is at it again! And by that, I mean he's making flatly wrong claims about easily-researchable topics. He claimed on Sunday that Thomas Jefferson helped write the United States Constitution, and then said on Monday that there were "newsreels" of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the attacks of Sept. 11. He's wrong about both of those, and it's no surprise: The number of things Ben Carson has been wrong about could fill a small book.
To be fair, Carson sometimes backs down when his statements are revealed to be incorrect. And yet he does have a longstanding propensity to get indisputable facts wrong, especially when it comes to American history. In this sense, he's reminiscent of former congresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who also bungled several comments about United States history. But Carson is getting further in the GOP primary than Bachmann ever did, and it's possible that he's made even more incorrect statements than she has. So, because it's always important to subject presidential aspirants to a high level of scrutiny, let's take a long, hard look at some of the times Carson been on the wrong side of facts, evidence, and the truth.
- Thomas Jefferson helped write the Constitution. On CSPAN, Carson said that Jefferson "tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control people's natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government." This claim is contradicted both by history — Jefferson was in France when the Constitution was written — and Carson's own book, A More Perfect Union, in which he accuses Jefferson of being "missing in action" when the document was drafted.
- New Jersey Muslims cheered when the Twin Towers fell down. Donald Trump said that this happened, and when asked about it, Carson confirmed that he "saw the film of it, yes." There's no evidence that such a celebration ever happened in New Jersey, and a Carson spokesperson later said that the Republican presidential candidate "doesn't stand behind" his comments to the contrary.
- There are Chinese troops fighting in Syria. When discussing Syria at a recent debate, Carson alleged that "the Chinese are there." He later said that he had "several sources" confirming this, and quipped that "I'm surprised that my sources are better than theirs" (it's unclear who "theirs" was referring to). After that little jab, his campaign admitted that there aren't any Chinese forces fighting in Syria.
- None of the the signers of the Declaration of Independence held elected office. In response to questions about his political inexperience, Carson wrote in a Facebook post that "Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience." When it was pointed out that this is patently false, Carson said that he meant federal elected office. But that's irrelevant to the point Carson was attempting to make, because the allegation against Carson is that he hasn't held any elected office at all. Plenty of the other 2016 contenders haven't held federal office.
- The leaders of Russia, Iran and Palestine hung out in college they were young. On several occasions, Carson has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin, Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas all met each other in 1968 at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow. In actuality, there's no proof that any of them attended that school, let alone all three at the same time. Also, Putin was only 16 in 1968.
- The United States looks like this. No, it doesn't look like that. Carson quickly deleted the erroneous map from his Twitter feed.
- The Nazis became powerful by taking away German citizens' guns. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. In reality, the Nazis expanded gun rights for all German citizens except for Jews, and equally importantly, used armed militias to consolidate its political power. It's flatly wrong to suggest that the Nazis "were able to carry out their evil intentions by "removing guns," as Carson did.
- Raising the minimum wage always, without exception, results in job losses. "Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases," Carson asserted at a debate. Nuh-uh. Sometimes it does, sure, but sometimes it doesn't. Carson said it happened "every time."
- He had no involvement with that supplement company. At a debate, Carson said that he "didn't have an involvement" with Mannatech, which makes nutritional supplements. That's only true if giving paid speeches to the company and starring in its promotional videos doesn't constitute "an involvement."
- The U.S. promised to defend Ukraine after it gave up its nuclear weapons. Carson said that Ukraine surrendered its nukes "with the understanding that we would protect them." Ukraine did surrender its nukes, but the U.S. never agreed to protect Ukraine in exchange.
- Prison makes people gay. In order to prove that being gay is a choice, which it isn't, Carson said that "a lot of people" go into prison straight and come out gay. There's no evidence this is true.
- Egyptians build the pyramids to store grain. Carson floated this "personal theory" in a 1998 commencement speech, suggesting that "Joseph built the pyramids to store grain." He confirmed in 2015 that he still believes this. But Carson is wrong on a number of fronts. For example, the story of Joseph is set 500 years after the pyramids were built.
- Obamacare is as bad as slavery. Carson said that the Affordable Care Act is "the worst thing that's happened in this nation since slavery." However, as many historians have noted, slavery involved the forced imprisonment, servitude and murder of millions and millions of people over several centuries. Obamacare, by contrast, is a modest expansion of health care coverage.