In his first speech as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson likened slaves forced to come to America to immigrants seeking a better life.
“That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity,” Carson told hundreds of federal employees Monday.
“There were other immigrants who came in the bottom of slave ships, who worked even longer, even harder, for less, but they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land,” Carson added.
HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan attempted to clarify Carson’s comments telling CNN, “Nobody here believes he was equating voluntary immigration with involuntary servitude” – but it seemed the damage was done.
Carson’s comments set off an uproar on social media.
“Pulp Fiction” star Samuel L. Jackson weighed in with a few choice words on Twitter.
“OK!! Ben Carson… I can’t! Immigrants? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!!”
The NAACP tweeted: “Immigrants?”
— NAACP (@NAACP) March 6, 2017
This is not the first time Carson has likened something to slavery.
During an interview with NBC in 2015, he compared abortion to slavery.
“During slavery — and I know that’s one of those words you’re not supposed to say, but I’m saying it — during slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to the slave,” he said. “What if the abolitionists had said, ‘I don’t believe in slavery, I think it’s wrong, but you guys do whatever you want to do’?”
At the Values Voter Summit in 2013, Carson called ObamaCare the worst thing “since slavery.”
“It is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care,” Carson aid. “It was about control.”
Calls to HUD for comment were not immediately returned.