Isn’t it fair to wonder if Ben Carson is being used as a prop?

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This week’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace featured a conversation with former presidential candidate and current Trump supporter, Dr. Ben Carson. During the interview Wallace asked Carson if he was concerned about being used by Donald Trump and his campaign “a prop for black voters” and if “supporting Donald Trump will end up hurting your credibility in the black community”.

Wallace has been severely criticized by some for this line of questioning, arguing that it was ignorant and racist. It has also been suggested that Wallace should be fired, that he should not be allowed to be the moderator for the final presidential debate and that this was an example of Chris Wallace supporting Hillary Clinton. If this was the kind of question Wallace would ask Ben Carson, what kind of questions would Wallace ask Donald Trump?

For his part, Carson simply replies, “It’s not about me. It’s about our nation”. Furthermore, Carson, who grew up in Detroit, discussed the blight of many American cities. That many of these cities which used to be shining examples of the American dream are now plagued by poverty, by violence, and by a general lack of hope. And Carson points out that much of this transformation has occurred during a time when Democrats have been the elected party in those cities.

The questions to Carson regarding his support of Trump stem from Trump’s recent visit to Detroit, during which he was accompanied by Carson.

They visited Carson’s childhood home:

And a black church:

In the interview Chris Wallace prefaced his questions to Carson by noting the feelings of many Hispanic leaders, liberal and conservative, who recently declared they felt “like props” when Donald Trump seemingly softened his stance on illegal immigrants and immigration only to advocate an even stronger position after these leaders had spoken in favor of Trump. This doesn’t mean they actually had been used as props by the Trump campaign, but that was their feeling. Therefore, it is fair to ask Ben Carson, a black conservative, if he felt as if he was being used as a prop in order to gain Donald Trump further support among African-Americans immediately following a trip to a black church in Detroit.

First, Donald Trump has been notably reaching out to minority voters in the past few weeks. Second, Donald Trump is not religious. Third, he’s not from Detroit. Finally, it was a black church. Donald Trump just happened to be taking a trip with Ben Carson and the media to see Carson’s childhood home, stopped for photos and interviews and decided to take a trip to a black church where Trump-supporter and ordained minister Omarosa Manigault just happened to be? Donald Trump wouldn’t be there if he wasn’t running for president and he didn’t think the trip could help to sway voters.

And that’s fine. But it was still politics. To pretend as though it was not and that questioning Trump’s motives is somehow beyond reproach is ridiculous. The sentiment may have been genuine, but many people in Detroit didn’t think so as evidenced by the protests outside the church:

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan who said, “Are you here just to use Detroiters as props in a re-imaging campaign, or are you here to have a real conversation where you’re finally going to give us the specifics on what you’re going to do to make American cities better?”.

And Representative Brenda Lawrence who declared, “He said when he sees an African-American that I am broke, I am unemployed, I’m uneducated, and whenever I walk out my door I’m being shot. What do I have to lose?. I don’t want my grandchild to listen to the rhetoric that she, as a woman and as an African-American, is classified and stereotyped as uneducated.”

Or numerous church parishioners who said things such as, “I think he’s using the church. You can’t just change everything that you have been saying before and say something else and want me to believe that.”

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should both visit Detroit as other blighted cities. And small towns. They should both visit black churches. And Hispanic churches. And synagogues. And mosques. And people should question their motives.

 

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