Ben Carson is no good at history

1401x788-464500496No one questions Ben Carson’s credentials as a surgeon, but he’s not vying for chief of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins or some such place. He’s running for president, and in politics, he’s a dilettante. Campaigning in New Hampshire today, he showed how little he knows about history. Claiming that America could be taken over by a Hitler, he explained,

“If you go back and look at the history of the world, tyranny and despotism and how it starts, it has a lot to do with control of thought and control of speech.”

Nope, that’s not how it happened. Those things came after Hitler acquired power by legitimate means. The Nazis didn’t overthrow the German government; they were elected by the German people to lead it. Hitler was a gifted orator who sold himself to Germans as their defeated, humiliated, and impoverished nation’s savior. Force, terror, and “control of thought and speech” became his means of keeping power, but do not explain how he got it, and were not introduced until he had it. You can read the details of how the Third Reich came about in this book.

Those who, like Carson, confuse the techniques of despots with the causes of despotism will likely fail to understand the role played by social and economic conditions in societal failures and the rise of tyrannical regimes. Ignorance of this subject should disqualify a person from important public office; but America is a democracy where people enjoy the liberty to be morons and elect incompetents to lead them. So carry on, Ben, and keep throwing red meat to Republican mobs.

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