Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson on Monday knocked some of the 2016 contenders who have declined to say that the shooting at a historic black church in Charleston was racially motivated.
“Not everything is about race in this country. But when it is about race, then it just is,” Carson began in a USA Today op-ed published on Monday. “So when a guy who has been depicted wearing a jacket featuring an apartheid-era Rhodesian flag walks into a historic black church and guns down nine African-American worshipers at a Bible study meeting, common sense leads one to believe his motivations are based in racism.”
“If this were a medical disease, and all the doctors recognized the symptoms but refused to make the diagnosis for fear of offending the patient, we could call it madness,” he continued. “But there are people who are claiming that they can lead this country who dare not call this tragedy an act of racism, a hate crime, for fear of offending a particular segment of the electorate.”
Carson’s piece linked to a video of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) Wednesday comments on “The View” about the suspect who killed nine people. When asked if the shooting was a hate crime or an act committed by someone who was mentally ill, Graham said it was “probably both.”
“There are real people out there that are organized to kill people in religion and based on race. This guy is just whacked out,” he said.
Graham later said that there is “no doubt that the shooting on Wednesday night was racially motivated.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) also struggled to say whether the shooter was motivated by racism.
“It was a horrific act and I don’t know what the background of it is, but it was an act of hatred,” Bush said on Friday when asked if the attack was racially motivated.
In his Monday op-ed, Carson called on candidates to “stop all the interpretive dance around the obvious.”
“Is this killer a sick individual? In my professional opinion, yes, he is. What is his sickness? It’s the sickness of racism, a spiritual sickness that distorts the mind and heart and causes irrational and baseless fear and hatred in people of all colors,” he said.