When I read in a couple of places that Dr. Ben Carson is adamant about comparing the contemporary United States to Nazi Germany, I figured he was following the familiar meme of the “Abortion Holocaust,” according to which today’s antichoicers are the equivalent to the “Confessing Church” Christians who resisted Hitler. But after checking a few scattered quotes from Carson, I saw no reference to abortion at all. Instead, the Doctor seemed to be saying again and again that “political correctness” and government persecution had cowed Americans into terrified submission as effectively as the Gestapo did in Germany.

Now there’s something inherently weird about a man running around the country making fiery speeches to wildly cheering audiences claiming it’s impossible for anyone to speak out. And it’s not like he’s exactly alone. But if you actually take the time to catch his act, it’s just one of a number of strange and paradoxical things about his message.

I just sat through a long video of a long Carson speech on behalf of Monica Wehby in Oregon back in January, and on one level he sounds like Barack Obama circa 2004: we’re letting ideologues divide Americans who actually agree on most of the basic issues; we need to talk openly with each other and try to solve our problems based on what works; we need to see each other as fellow-citizens, not enemies.

But it becomes obvious very quickly that in the world of Carson and the people cheering him the “dividers” are all liberals, the “common sense” real Americans all agree on is constitutional conservatism, and “free discussion” means the right of constitutional conservatives to say things that offend other people without anyone “intimidating” them via complaints or criticism. In Carson’s world, it’s axiomatic that every conservative is being tracked if not targeted by the IRS and every liberal is consciously following Rules For Radicals.

The enemies of this country realized that our military was too strong to overcome (although it’s getting weaker every day). [I]t would much easier to destroy from inside–by fundamentally changing who we are.

“Fundamentally changing who we are” is Carson’s constant indictment of the evil intent of progressivism–his way of postulating that “unity” around “common sense” means crushing progressives–“some” if not “all” of whom are “members of a conspiracy”–once and for all.

Maybe I’m over-simplifying this, but I’d say Dr. Carson looks like the ultimate candidate of the Brietbartian Right–the people who send and really do believe all those crazy emails they circulate about religion being outlawed by regulation; who don’t personally know anyone who’s voted for Obama; who have zero doubt that Jesus would be a Republican; who think America would be the greatest place on the planet if about half its population was not allowed to vote.

But what do I know? I’m one of those “Gestapo” people who is “suppressing” Carson’s ideology–and that’s what it is, if I may be allowed a “politically incorrect” observation–by disagreeing that it’s the only authentically American way to look at things!

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.