Ben Carson said in September 2015, “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,” suspicious of any faith that is “inconsistent with the values and principles of America.” These words exploded in his face, plunging his presidential campaign into a firestorm of criticism from liberals and conservatives alike.
He quickly amended his comments, explaining that he meant he couldn’t support a Muslim candidate who hadn’t “renounced the central [tenet] of Islam: Sharia Law,” under which “homosexuals–men and women alike–must be killed. Women must be subservient. And people following other religions must be killed.” But he acknowledged “that there are many peaceful Muslims who do not adhere to these beliefs” he could support if they repudiated these edicts.
The plot thickened on October 3, when, after the nonprofit Council on American-Islamic Relations called for him to pull out of the presidential race, Carson sought revenge by pushing the I.R.S. to rescind the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status, claiming it violated rules about interfering in a campaign.
Come on, Ben. Your position can be dismissed as absurd the moment you remember that to be an ethical person, you must hold yourself to the same standards you hold others. You must give others the freedom you desire for yourself. The Golden Rule, some call it, a simple idea that is found in virtually all major world religions.
In Christianity, it’s found in the book of Matthew: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” In Islam, it’s in the Hadith: “Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.” Far older than either of these are the words of Confucius, who said in the Analects, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”
If one were to suggest a Christian shouldn’t be president, or a black man shouldn’t be president, Carson would call this what it is: bigotry, hatred, ignorance. It’s amazing a black man is saying something like this. How long ago was it that whites could openly say a black man shouldn’t be president?
And if Christians, most of whom don’t take these laws seriously anymore, do not have to publicly renounce the Old Testament before getting Ben Carson’s support, why should Muslims who don’t take the Koran’s nastiest laws seriously have to?
The fact that extremist Islam is a much greater threat to humanity today makes no difference in terms of ethics. If more Muslims take primitive laws seriously than do Christians, the Golden Rule remains unchanged. Were Christian oppression and terror a greater threat, and Islam the main religion in the United States, peaceful Christians would still wish to run for office without fear of a witch hunt, of Islamic politicians trying to weed out Christian candidates like Ben Carson who have yet to condemn the Old Testament.
Also, one wonders if Carson would approve of a Muslim candidate fighting to see a Christian nonprofit taxed because the nonprofit called for the candidate’s withdraw after anti-Christian remarks.
Simple role reversal is not difficult. Neither is a cursory examination of U.S. laws specifically designed to protect people from the kind of discrimination Carson envisions.
When asked if he thought Islam was compatible with the Constitution, Carson said, “No.” True, edicts about killing non-believers and homosexuals and such would violate Constitutional law, but so would any requirement of religious confession or renunciation. Article VI of the Constitution notes, using several absolutes, that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office.” True, Carson was simply speaking of who he would personally support, not explicitly calling for such an official test. Yet if one can recognize when someone else’s views do not reflect the spirit, and letter, of the Constitution, one should just as easily be able to recognize when one’s own views make the same mistake.