Politics

Who Ben Carson Is Actually Talking About When He Talks About Hitler

CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, comparer of things to Hitler.

Ben Carson is back in the news for making yet another Hitler comparison. But this time, he won’t explicitly say he’s talking about President Obama.

As he often does, the Republican presidential candidate warned voters at a New Hampshire event on Wednesday of an impending Nazi-like regime in the United States because of the rise of “political correctness” in government culture. But when reporters asked Carson after the event who would represent Hitler in this comparable genocide, Carson would not be specific.

“I’m not going to go into that that,” he said. “I think that example is pretty clear.” Another reporter asked, was he talking about Obama? “No,” Carson countered. “I am saying that in a situation where people do not express themselves, bad things can happen.”

Carson may not have been willing to call out Obama specifically as a Hitler-like figure in this instance, but his statements in the past have made it pretty clear what he thinks. Last year, in an interview with the conservative site Newsmax, Carson said voters should simply read Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” if they want to understand the president. Later, Carson warned that Obama might declare martial law and cancel the 2016 election.

And the retired neurosurgeon is no stranger to Nazi comparisons, particularly when it comes to the culture of U.S. political discourse under the Obama administration.

They stretch back to at least 2009. During a commencement speech at Lafayette College that year, Carson — who was given an honorary degree alongside Holocaust survivor Nechama Tec — warned graduates to “speak up,” or a similar tragedy would happen in the United States.

“What happened in Nazi Germany?” he asked. “I daresay the vast majority of German people did not believe what Hitler believed. But they didn’t speak up, and you see what the result was.”

As Carson’s political career grew, his comparisons of Nazi Germany to the Obama administration became more explicit. He began to draw parallels between the Obama era and Hitler’s Third Reich.

“We live in a Gestapo age,” the retired neurosurgeon said during a 2014 speech. After that speech, in an interview with Breitbart TV, Carson said the government under Obama is “very much like Nazi Germany,” because “We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe.”

But Carson has not limited his Nazi comparisons to the Obama administration. In an August interview with Nevada Newsmakers, Carson drew parallels between the women’s health organization Planned Parenthood and Hitler’s regime.

“Do you see a connection with Planned Parenthood and Nazi, Germany?” Carson was asked.

“I certainly see a connection in the sense that Margaret Sanger, their founder, and people like Adolf Hitler … felt there were certain people who were superior and certain people who were inferior,” Carson responded. “And the way that you strengthen the society was to enhance superior ones and eliminate the inferior ones.”

If anything, Carson’s past statements do seem to imply that he’s talking about the Obama administration and its “political correctness.” But with the Planned Parenthood mention, it seems that, when prompted, Carson is agreeable with his Nazi comparisons. He knows, as Dana Milbank pointed out in 2014, that “subtlety will not bring him stardom.” And he seems to be correct. His lack of subtlety has been rewarded, with the latest national presidential poll showing Carson just one point behind Republican front-runner Donald Trump.