Carson Doubles-Down: Slaves Were ‘Involuntary Immigrants’

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson doubled-down Monday on his description of slaves as immigrants, arguing that the label fits anyone who comes into a country from the outside – even “involuntary immigrants.”

Speaking to department employees in his first full day on the job, Carson stoked controversy when he said America is “a land of dreams and opportunities,” even for “immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships” and “worked even longer, even harder for less.”

The remarks provoked uproar on social media, where many on the left lambasted the HUD secretary for describing slaves as immigrants aspiring for a better life. Both Chelsea Clinton and Samuel L. Jackson also weighed in with disbelief.

On Monday evening, speaking on the Sirius XM radio show of his friend and business partner Armstrong Williams, Carson refused to back away from the remarks.

“I think people need to actually look up the word immigrant,” Carson said. “Whether you’re voluntary or involuntary, if you come from the outside to the inside, you’re an immigrant. Whether you’re legal or illegal, you come from the outside to inside, you’re an immigrant. Slaves came here as involuntary immigrants but they still had the strength to hold on.”

One woman who called into the show said she disagreed with Carson, arguing, “you can’t be an immigrant if you’re brought over here in chains.”

“Yes you can, you can be an involuntary immigrant,” Carson responded.

“We should be proud to have ancestors that had the mental strength to endure what so many others had not been able to endure,” he continued.

“They tried to enslave all kinds of people but they were not able to survive it and that requires a tremendous amount of toughness and will power and strength and hope and they had that. Don’t let someone turn that into something bad.”

Carson said the department employees he addressed earlier in the day understood his message, accusing the media of seizing on a non-existent controversy and overlooking the reception he received.

“Everyone in that auditorium was with me,” Carson said. “They knew exactly what I was saying. It’s only those people who are always trying to stir up controversy. Did they talk about the good things? Or the prolonged standing ovation? All the people standing in line to get pictures, the people who asked very good questions and got answers for them? The lady who stood up and said some of us were concerned but we’re not concerned about you anymore – no, they don’t cover that. They say, ‘ah, he said that slaves were immigrants and that’s a terrible thing to say and he’s out of contact with reality and he’s crazy.’ You know it’s really kind of sad what the media has degenerated into.”

“There were numerous people brought over here on slave ships and it was a horrible thing, I’m not saying that it wasn’t a horrible thing,” Carson continued. “But what I’m saying is that those people were strong, they were strong-willed. They didn’t just give up and die like many of the other people who they tried to enslave. And one of the reasons they didn’t just give up and die is because they used the brain god gave them and they figured a time would come when there would be freedom, a time would come when their children could achieve, so unless you have the ability to maintain that hope and that aspiration, you just give up and you die. Our ancestors did not do that.”

Carson then posted a statement on Facebook that walked back his claims.

(h/t The Hill)

Carson Refers to Slaves as ‘Immigrants’ in First Talk to HUD Employees

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson referred to slaves as “immigrants” dreaming of a better life in a talk with department employees, according to Monday reports.

“That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity,” Carson said. “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.”

He added: “But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

Carson, longtime supporter of President Trump who was sworn in as HUD secretary last week, compared abortion to slavery during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

“During slavery — and I know that’s one of those words you’re not supposed to say, but I’m saying it — during slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to the slave,” Carson told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in October of 2015.

“What if the abolitionists had said, ‘I don’t believe in slavery, I think it’s wrong, but you guys do whatever you want to do?’ ” added the retired neurosurgeon, who opposes abortion even in the cases of rape and incest.

(h/t The Hill)

 

White House Lied to Journalists About Trump Speech in ‘Misdirection Play’

CNN reported Wednesday on a senior administration official admitting that the White House intentionally misled reporters ahead of President Donald Trump‘s congressional address in order to get generate positive press coverage as part of a “misdirection play.”

Multiple reports Tuesday indicated that Trump would embrace a more moderate tone on immigration and would announce that he was willing to negotiate granting millions of illegal immigrants legal status. Most of those reports, cited to a “senior administration official,” came immediately after anchors lunched with Trump. Some of those outlets then just attributed the claim to the president himself.

But when it was time for Trump to actually give the speech, he said nothing of the sort. CNN’s Sara Murray complained the next day about “the bait and switch that the president pulled when it came to immigration yesterday. He had this meeting with the anchors, he talked about a path to legal status.”

“Basically they fed [them] things that they thought these anchors would like, that they thought would give them positive press coverage for the next few hours. A senior administration official admitted that it was a misdirection play,” she reported.

Host John King wondered why reporters should even trust the White House going forward. “It does make you wonder; so we’re not supposed to believe what the senior-most official at the lunch says — who then they allowed it to be the president’s name says — we’re not supposed to believe what they say?” he asked. “Maybe we shouldn’t believe what they say.”

(h/t Mediaite)

Media

Trump Calls Deportation Push a ‘Military Operation’

President Trump on Thursday called his effort to ramp up deportations a “military operation” aimed at ridding the U.S. of “really bad dudes.”

“We’re getting really bad dudes out of this country,” he said at a meeting with manufacturing CEOs. “And at a rate nobody has ever seen before. And they’re the bad ones. And it’s a military operation.”

Trump is touting his administration’s new immigration enforcement policies, which could result in millions of deportations.

The Department of Homeland Security guidelines vastly increase the number of immigrants who are considered priorities for deportation. They also direct law enforcement agencies to hire thousands of new agents to apprehend people living in the country illegally, with local police and sheriffs’ offices enlisted in the effort.

The military, however, is not involved. The guidelines did not adopt a draft plan to enlist National Guard troops to help apprehend undocumented immigrants in nearly a dozen states.

Trump officials have said the effort is aimed at deporting criminal undocumented immigrants.

“You see what’s happening at the border,” the president said. “All of the sudden, for the first time, we’re getting gang members out. We’re getting drug lords out.”

“When you see gang violence and you’ve read about it like never before, all of the things, much of that is people who are here illegally. And they’re tough and they’re tough, but they’re not tough like our people,” he continued.

Under the administration’s guidelines, any immigrant who is convicted, charged or suspected of a crime is considered a priority for removal.

That is a break from Obama administration policy, which focused on serious criminals, recent border crossers and suspected terrorists.

The changes angered immigrant-rights groups, who said they could result in families being split apart and violations of due-process rights.

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Cited a Nonexistent Incident in Sweden

President Donald Trump cited a nonexistent incident in Sweden while talking about the relationship between terror attacks and refugees around the world during a rally in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday.

“You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden … Sweden … who would believe this? Sweden, they took in large numbers, they are having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening Brussels, you look at what’s happening all over the world,” Trump said.

No incident occurred in Sweden on Friday night.

However, Fox News host Tucker Carlson ran an interview on Friday night’s broadcast of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with documentarian and media personality Ami Horowitz, who presented a clip from a new film documenting alleged violence committed by refugees in Sweden. The segment went on extensively about a supposed crime surge in Sweden and its links to immigrant populations.

Crime rates in Sweden have stayed relatively stable, with some fluctuations, over the last decade, according to the 2016 Swedish Crime Survey.

This isn’t the first time that there has been a correlation between Trump’s statements and programming on cable news, of which he is a noted fan.

In late January, Trump tweeted about gun violence in Chicago shortly after after an “O’Reilly Factor” segment on the same topic, which cited the same statistics and even used the word “carnage,” a recent favorite noun of Trump’s.

In February, Trump declared in a tweet that he was calling “my own shots” in his administration shortly after MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough asked on air whether Trump’s chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, was “calling the shots” in the White House.

(h/t Business Insider)

Media

Trump Winery Seeks More Foreign Help

A Virginia winery owned by President Trump’s son Eric has requested permission to bring in nearly two dozen foreign workers, according to a new report.

The Trump Winery in Virginia is seeking 23 workers from overseas to plant and harvest grapes there this spring, BuzzFeed reported Thursday.

The Department of Labor published a request from the winery, which is also known as Trump Vineyard Estates LLC, earlier that day.

Thursday’s posting says potential workers will earn $11.27 hourly working at the 1,300-acre estate from April 3 to as late as Oct. 27.

The workers are being sought using the federal H-2A visa program, which permits U.S. employers to hire foreign agricultural laborers for temporary work as long as no qualified Americans want the jobs instead.

The H-2 visa program has brought more than 100,000 foreigners into the U.S. annually since 2003, BuzzFeed reported, and the initiative has benefited businesses relating to the Trumps.

BuzzFeed added that companies owned by President Trump or bearing his name have sought to hire at least 286 foreign workers since he launched his White House run in June 2015.

Many laborers now work as servers and housecleaners at Mar-a-Lago, the report said, Trump’s luxury resort in Palm Beach, Fla., that Trump has dubbed “the winter White House.”

Stores in the Washington, D.C., area have reportedly been selling out of bottles of wine that bear the president’s name since he entered office.

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Aide Derided Islam, Immigration And Diversity, Embraced An Anti-Semitic Past

A senior national security official in the Trump administration wrote under a pseudonym last year that Islam is an inherently violent religion that is “incompatible with the modern West,” defended the World War II-era America First Committee, which included anti-Semites, as “unfairly maligned,” and called diversity “a source of weakness, tension and disunion.”

Michael Anton, who served as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, joined President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year as a staffer on the National Security Council. But in the year leading up to the 2016 election, Anton operated as an anonymous booster of then-candidate Trump. Using the pen name Publius Decius Mus (the name of a self-sacrificing Roman consul), Anton promoted Trump’s anti-Islam, anti-immigration platform on fringe websites. The Weekly Standard revealed Publius to be Anton last week.

As Publius, Anton is best-known for his September 2016 article, “The Flight 93 Election,” which argued that, like the passengers on the aircraft hijacked by al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001, Americans in 2016 needed to “charge the cockpit” and prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the election — or die. The article, which ran in the Claremont Review of Books, was circulated widely on conservative and white nationalist websites. The New Yorker declared it “the most cogent argument for electing Trump” but cited the responses by Ross Douthat of The New York Times that he’d “rather risk defeat at my enemies’ hands than turn my own cause over to a incompetent tyrant” and by Jonah Goldberg of National Review that its central metaphor is “grotesquely irresponsible.”

“The Flight 93 Election” wasn’t Anton’s only — or most provocative — defense of his future boss. In March, six months before the Flight 93 piece began circulating, Anton published a longer and lesser-noticed essay, “Toward a Sensible, Coherent Trumpism,” in the Unz Review, a website that hosts both far-right and far-left commentary. Journal of American Greatness, a blog that closed last year, republished the 6,000-word piece, and Breitbart, a news site known for promoting white supremacist and anti-Semitic views, which openly supported Trump’s election, ran an excerpt. (American Bridge, a Democratic opposition research group, noted the Journal of American Greatness version of the essay in an email to The Huffington Post.)

According to an editor’s note on the Journal’s website, a “(semi-)prominent conservative think-tank” — presumably the Claremont Institute—rejected the piece because its arguments against immigration were grounded in emotion rather than logic. (The institute’s Claremont Review of Books did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Anton devoted 1,000 words of the March essay to defending Trump’s “America first” slogan, which is eerily reminiscent of the America First Committee, a group that urged the U.S. to stay out of World War II, sometimes by invoking anti-Semitic stereotypes. When American Jews urged the U.S. to intervene on behalf of Jews facing genocide in Nazi Germany, AFC spokesman (and famed aviator) Charles Lindbergh accused them of “agitating for war.” Jewish Americans’ “great danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government,” Lindbergh said in 1941.

Lindbergh’s comments were shocking, even at a time when outright anti-Semitism was more publicly acceptable. “The voice is the voice of Lindbergh, but the words are the words of Hitler,” The San Francisco Chronicle wrote in an editorial.

But the America First Committee, according to Anton, was “unfairly maligned” and the whole episode represents only “an alleged stain on America’s past.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Anton did not respond to a request for comment before publication. He addressed this article four days later in an interview with the editors of the website American Greatness, where he is a former contributing editor. The website appears to be run by the same team as the now-defunct Journal of American Greatness blog.

The America First Committee was “primarily an isolationist movement, but there were anti-semitic elements that supported it,” he told American Greatness in the interview published Sunday. “What the Left has tried to do ― with much success, unfortunately ― is retcon the committee as primarily an anti-Jewish group when that’s not what it was,” he continued.

Throughout the essay published last year, Anton argues that immigration inevitably hurts the U.S. Here’s one passage:

[One] source of Trump’s appeal is his willingness — eagerness — gleefulness! — to mock the ridiculous lies we’ve been incessantly force-fed for the past 15 years (at least) and tell the truth. “Diversity” is not “our strength”; it’s a source of weakness, tension and disunion. America is not a “nation of immigrants”; we are originally a nation of settlers, who later chose to admit immigrants, and later still not to, and who may justly open or close our doors solely at our own discretion, without deference to forced pieties. Immigration today is not “good for the economy”; it undercuts American wages, costs Americans jobs, and reduces Americans’ standard of living. Islam is not a “religion of peace”; it’s a militant faith that exalts conversion by the sword and inspires thousands to acts of terror — and millions more to support and sympathize with terror.

Anton acknowledged in the March essay that Trump may have gone too far proposing a ban on all Muslims from entering the U.S. — surely business travelers from Dubai should be allowed in, he argued. But he praised Trump for his broader effort to limit the number of Muslims who are allowed to live in America. It is obvious, he wrote, that “Islam and the modern West are incompatible…. Only an insane society, or one desperate to prove its fidelity to some chimerical ‘virtue,’ would have increased Muslim immigration after the September 11th attacks. Yet that is exactly what the United States did. Trump has, for the first time, finally forced the questions: Why? And can we stop now?”

Pew estimated last year that about 1 percent of the U.S. population is Muslim.

Anton wrote that he accepts that “not all Muslims are terrorists, blah, blah, blah, etc.” But even so, he asked, “what good has Muslim immigration done for the United States and the American people?”

Over the past 20 years, immigration has had a positive effect on long-term economic growth in the U.S. and minimal effect on the wages and employment levels of individuals born in the U.S., a panel of prominent economists concluded last year.

In the American Greatness interview published on Sunday, Anton said that America has previously benefited from immigration, but that time has passed. “My view is that we long ago passed the point of diminishing returns and high immigration is no longer a net benefit to the existing American citizenry,” he said.

Anton’s heterodoxies aren’t limited to issues of immigration. It’s not America’s job to “democratize the world,” he argued in the March essay. “The Iraq War was a strategic and tactical blunder that destroyed a country (however badly governed), destabilized a region, and harmed American interests.” But like Trump, who initially supported the invasion of Iraq but has repeatedly claimed otherwise, Anton’s position on the war seems to have shifted over the years: According to The Weekly Standard, he was part of the team within the Bush administration that pushed for the invasion. (After this article was published, Anton told American Greatness that he supported the invasion of Iraq, but now believes it was a mistake. He added that he believes the subsequent troop surge was the right thing to do and that the U.S. withdrew too soon.)

“As the experience of Europe has decisively shown, we in the West don’t have the power to change Muslims,” he wrote last March. “The reverse is true: when we welcome them en masse into our countries, they change us — and not for the better.”

Anton’s apocalyptic warnings about Islam, immigrants and diversity echo the ideology of Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart News before becoming Trump’s chief strategist. Although Trump has also staffed his White House with establishment Republicans, including two former Republican National Committee leaders in Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Press Secretary Sean Spicer — it is Bannon’s worldview that appears to guide high-level policy decisions.

Bannon reportedly played a key role in creating Trump’s travel ban. When the Department of Homeland Security concluded that the ban shouldn’t apply to legal permanent U.S. residents, Bannon pushed back, CNN reported. (Days later, the White House announced that green card holders were exempted from the travel ban.)

The Journal of American Greatness, the blog that republished Anton’s essay, was taken down in mid-2016, but its posts are still viewable using a digital archive tool.

“The inspiration for this journal was a profound discomfort with the mode of thought that has come to dominate political discourse — an ideological mode that makes nonsense of the reality of American life,” the journal’s editors wrote in a farewell note to readers. “The unanticipated recognition that we have received, however, also makes clear that many others similarly felt the desirability of breaking out of conservatism’s self-imposed intellectual stagnation.”

The blog had started as “an inside joke,” they noted. But at some point, they wrote, it “ceased to be a joke.”

(h/t Huffington Post)

 

Trump Resumes Twitter Attacks on Federal Judge

President Donald Trump on Sunday resumed tweeting against the judge who blocked his executive order on immigration, blaming the court system “if something happens” that could put the U.S. in “peril.”

“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” he tweeted Sunday afternoon in reference to Judge James Robart, a district court judge based in Washington state.

A few minutes later, he tweeted again: “I have instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!”

Trump’s tweets came after an appeal filed by the Justice Department was turned down. The appeal would have lifted a ruling that is currently halting Trump’s immigration order.

On Friday, Robart put a halt on Trump’s immigration order, which restricts travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria — and stopped admittance of Syrian refugees to the United States.

The Justice Department filed an appeal late Saturday to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking for Robart’s order to be put on hold while the appeals court considers an open-ended stay of the ruling. The appeal court reject that request Sunday morning.

The president fired off a batch of four tweets Saturday, starting with: “What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?”

(h/t Politico)

Spicer: Diplomats Opposed to Immigration Ban Should ‘Either Get With the Program or They Can Go’

White House press secretary Sean Spicer had a stern message for State Department employees opposed to President Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: “Either get with the program or they can go.”

Dozens of career diplomats have signed on to a “dissent channel” document, which is a mechanism by which State Department employees can express policy disagreements privately without fear of retribution. The memo has been circulating in the agency and it expresses the view that the immigration ban “will not achieve its aim of making our country safer.”

Asked to respond to the document, Spicer suggested that the “career bureaucrats” who disagreed with the executive order should not continue to serve in the government.

“This is about the safety of America, and there’s a reason that a majority of Americans agree with the president,” Spicer said. “They should understand it’s his number one priority.”

Asked to clarify whether he was suggesting that public servants who disagree with the president should leave their posts, Spicer doubled down.

“If somebody has a problem with that agenda, then that does call into question whether … they should continue in that post or not,” Spicer said. “I know the president appreciates the people who serve this nation and the public servants.

“That’s up to them to question whether or not they want to stay,” he added.

(h/t The Washington Post)

Trump Signs Muslim Ban Order Limiting Refugee Entry

President Trump signed an executive order Friday instituting “extreme vetting” of refugees, aimed at keeping out “radical Islamic terrorists.”

“I’m establishing a new vetting measure to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” Trump said during his signing of the order. “We don’t want them here. We want to make sure we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”

According to drafts of the executive action, the order bars people from the Muslim-majority countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States for 30 days and suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. The program will be reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members are vetted by Trump’s administration.

In an interview Friday with the Christian Broadcast Network, Trump said he plans to help persecuted Christians.

“Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, at least very tough, to get into the United States?” Trump said. “If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair.”

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union declared Trump’s action “just a euphemism for discrimination against Muslims.”

From both legal and historical perspectives, the plan to ban refugees from specific countries is within the powers granted to the president under current law and historical precedent, according to Charles Haynes, vice president of the Newseum Institute’s Religious Freedom Center. However, whether the president can limit the ban to one religious group is another question.

Many Muslims, especially Shiites, are among the religious minorities under attack, Haynes said. This “raises moral and humanitarian concerns about excluding them from entrance to the U.S. while permitting people of other faiths,” he said. “Whether this policy rises to the level of a constitutional violation is uncertain and will be debated by constitutional scholars in the coming weeks.”

Issues related to the Constitution and religion are usually associated with matters of sex, such as contraceptives and LGBT discrimination, but some observers said they expect Trump’s actions on immigration to raise new challenges for religious freedom, according to Chelsea Langston Bombino of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance at the Center for Public Justice. Several organizations, she noted, are speaking out against orders that “will hurt the very people that their organizations were established, out of a religious calling, to serve,” she said.

Trump’s actions have been decried by several religious groups this week. “The expected cutbacks to U.S. refugee programs and funding will compromise our ability to do this work and the infrastructure needed to serve refugees in the years to come,” evangelical ministry World Relief said in a statement.

And in a strongly worded statement, Rabbi Jack Moline, the Interfaith Alliance president, noted that this decision was announced on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“For decades, the United States has prided itself as a safe bastion for refugees around the globe escaping war and persecution,” he said. “President Trump is poised to trample upon that great legacy with a de facto Muslim ban.”

(h/t Washington Post)

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