In a presidential race defined by voters desperately seeking “authenticity,” it is very bizarre to see so many Republican candidates struggling to tell the truth and refusing to own up once they get caught in their own lies. While Republicans are not exactly known for their grip on reality or their concern for empirically proven facts, the 2016 clown car’s propensity for inventing fake stories is getting out of hand. Neurosurgeon and climate denier Ben Carson is the latest to have one of his tall tales questioned.
It is, in all honesty, a stupid and asinine story that he unveiled to explain his own experience with “gun violence” as he doubled down on his heartless decision to blame the victims of the Umpqua Community College Massacre for their own murders. Carson alleges that he was once at a “Popeye’s” fried chicken restaurant in Baltimore, thirty years ago, when a man with a gun entered and pressed the weapon to Carson’s ribs. Carson, in a show of truly inspiring leadership, told the man to rob the cashier behind the counter instead.
That’s it. That is the story he told to somehow justify his comments that the victims should have “rushed” the gunman to die in a blaze of hypermasculine glory: “Not only would I probably not cooperate with, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.” The story indicates, however, that Carson did not react like that, and instead put someone else’s life in danger so that he could escape. Not a very good look for the doctor, who has been taking heavy media fire recently for some utterly inappropriate and nonsensical comments about how the Second Amendment could have prevented the Holocaust.
On top of all that, this absurd Popeye’s story might not even be true. The Daily Beast looked into the matter and “reached out to Carson’s “business manager” and central adviser, Armstrong Williams, he said that Carson had personally told him the story, and that it also appeared in Carson’s 2006 book, Take the Risk. There is no story about a stickup at Popeyes in Take the Risk. Gregg Lewis, a co-author of Take the Risk, told The Daily Beast that he and Carson never discussed the incident during his work on three autobiographies with the neurosurgeon.”
Additionally, the Baltimore Police Department tweeted out they were unable to identify any such incident.
While the story itself is trivial, boring, and almost certainly false, it’s what it represents which is important. Carly Fiorina had no problem inventing a story about a fake “abortion” that was entirely false- but refused to back off when called out for it. Ben Carson seems to be following in her footsteps, spouting off increasingly bizarre statements that are having some question his very sanity.
Carson’s campaign has declared they will no longer address questions regarding the story.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.