Carson Playing With Religious Fire

So Dr. Ben Carson has slightly walked back his statement on not being able to accept the idea of a Muslim as president–denying, of course, he’s walking anything back–via the Palinesque vehicle of a Facebook post:

The first issue I want to deal with tonight is the stories today about my comments yesterday when I was asked if I would support a hypothetical Muslim candidate for President. I responded “I would not advocate for that” and I went on to say that many parts of Sharia Law are not compatible with the Constitution. I was immediately attacked by some of my Republican peers and nearly every Democrat alive. Know this, I meant exactly what I said. I could never support a candidate for President of the United States that was Muslim and had not renounced the central tenant of Islam: Sharia Law.

Those Republicans that take issue with my position are amazing. Under Islamic Law, homosexuals – men and women alike – must be killed. Women must be subservient. And people following other religions must be killed.

I know that there are many peaceful Muslims who do not adhere to these beliefs. But until these tenants are fully renounced…I cannot advocate any Muslim candidate for President.

Ah, I see. At first Carson assumed every Muslim embraced his twisted interpretation of Shariah Law (hardly a monolith), as though it’s one of the Five Pillars. Now he’s willing to renounce the ban on any Muslim who’s willing to argue he or she has stopped beating his or her spouse. What a guy.

As a member of a small and rather exotic religious minority himself, Carson is playing with fire here. Suppose someone announced they could not “support” a Seventh-Day Adventist becoming president without a clear renunciation of any interest in using the power of government to suppress meat-eating. That wouldn’t be fair. Neither is Carson’s smear against Muslims, which he infallibly knows plays to the prejudices of the GOP base.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.