Yesterday, Ben Carson appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and CBS’s “Face of the Nation,” where he was asked on both occasions for his reaction to the shooting which occurred at a Colorado Planned Parenthood on Friday. Carson’s responses have plunged the candidate into yet another controversy, eliciting condemnation from a number of pro-life leaders.
First, take a look at Carson’s full remarks on both shows below:
MARTHA RADDATZ: But first, your reaction to what happened in Colorado Springs.
BEN CARSON: Well, obviously, you know, any hate crime is a horrible thing, no matter from where it comes, and should be condemned very strongly.
RADDATZ: Dr. Carson, the Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains’ Vicki Cowart said that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. Do you agree with that?
CARSON: Unfortunately, there’s a lot of extremism coming from all areas. It’s one of the biggest problems that I think is threatening to tear our country apart. We get into our separate corners and we hate each other; we want to destroy those with whom we disagree. It comes from both sides. So, you know, there is — there is no saint here in this — in this equation. But what we really have to start asking ourselves is, what can we do as a nation to rectify this situation? How can we begin to engage in rational discussion? You know, all you have to do is go to the — an article on the Internet and go to the comments section; you don’t get five comments down before people start calling each other names and acting like idiots, you know. What happened to us? What happened to the civility that used to characterize our society?
JOHN DICKERSON: I would like to ask you about a domestic political event or what some people see has a political element to it, and that’s the shooting at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs. Some abortion rights supporters have said that the rhetoric has led to that kind of violence. What’s your view on that?
BEN CARSON: There is no question that hateful rhetoric, no matter which side it comes from, right or left, is something that is detrimental to our society. This has been a big problem. Our strength in this country has traditionally been in our unity. And we are allowing all kinds of circumstances to divide us and make us hateful toward each other. And the rhetoric is extremely immature, divisive, and is not helpful. When you have outside forces, global Islamic radical jihadists who want to destroy us, why would we be doing that to ourselves? We at some point have got to become more mature. No question the hateful rhetoric exacerbates the situation, and we should be doing all we can to engage an intelligence, civil discussion about our differences. That’s how we solve problems. We don’t ever solve them with hateful rhetoric.
DICKERSON: Should abortion rights — excuse me — should those who oppose abortion rights tone down their rhetoric?
CARSON: I think both sides should tone down their rhetoric and engage in civil discussion.
DICKERSON: All right.
While Carson’s comments might be charitably read as only applying to certain fringe elements – and not the mainstream – of the pro-life movement, they were certainly ill-advised and can be easily misconstrued. Breitbart reports that many pro-life leaders have already taken Carson to task for his poor choice of words:
In exclusive interviews with Breitbart News, a number of national pro-life leaders condemned Carson’s statements.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue and a board member at the Center for Medical Progress, said, “Doctor Carson just ended his presidential candidacy.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of American, that has 700 chapters on college campuses around the country, says:
Did Carson take his talking points from Planned Parenthood? He completely missed the mark, casting suspicion on pro-lifers who had nothing to do with this tragedy and only furthering the deceitful narrative that the abortion industry has already laid out in the media. Compassion and love, not violence, are at the heart of the pro-life movement and motivate us to protect life in its stages and we extend that same love and compassion to the victims and their families of this horrible tragedy.
The Grande Dame of the pro-life movement, Judie Brown of American Life Leagues, said, “Outrageous. What is Carson missing in all this other than a known dysfunctional man with a history of undependable behavior. What did any of us say to provoke that? Carson is dead wrong, period.”
Carson is certainly no stranger to provoking confusion and disappointment from the pro-life movement with his statements, having already done so with past comments on abortion and the Terri Schiavo controversy. Following this latest episode, pro-life doubts about supporting Carson’s candidacy are looking increasingly legitimate.
Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com.