Rep. Charles Rangel's labeling of tea party supporters as "white crackers" is derogatory no matter how the veteran New York Democrat tries to defend the slur, says Dr. Ben Carson, the rising-star conservative mulling a run for president.
"Well, of course, it’s derogatory, as many of the terms are," Carson, the former chief of pediatric neurosurgery at John's Hopkins Children's Center, said Wednesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"In reading 'Rules for Radicals' by Saul Alinsky, he emphasizes that you shouldn't have a discussion with those you disagree with because that would humanize them. All you need to do is demonize them.
"And that's what they do — spend time demonizing each other. It's silly."
In an interview
Monday with The Huffington Post, the 22-term congressman was asked about his use of the term last year, when he referred to tea partyers as "the same people we faced in the South, with the white crackers, the dogs and the police."
Rangel replied that he thought "cracker" was "a term of endearment," adding that "with all of the feelings I have against these people who have been against justice, fair play, equality, and the freedoms as we know it, if I offended them by calling them a white cracker, for that I apologize."
But later in the interview, Rangel dismissed criticism of his comments as "ridiculous," and appeared to liken tea partyers to segregationists and terrorists.
Carson does not agree.
"The tea party, I have had many encounters with the tea party. None of them have been unpleasant at all. I find them to be absolutely patriotic Americans," Carson said.
"All they're saying is we have a say in what's going on in this country. We are not willingly going to turn our lives and our resources and everything over to a government that is trying to control our lives.
"They're saying that the government is supposed to conform to the will of the people. That's the way it was set up. And instead now the government wants the people to conform to it and they're not going to settle for it."
That's why there are so many attempts to "demonize" the tea party and its supporters, said Carson, author of "One Vote: Make Your Voice Heard,''
written with Candy Carson and published by Tyndale House Publishers.
"Because it flies in the face of the progressive movement that has been trying to insinuate government into every aspect of our lives," he said.
Monday’s comments were Rangel’s latest likening Republicans or conservatives to segregationists or slaveholders.
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