Friday, November 13, 2015

Black Lies Matter

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson recently told Fox News:  “Lying, I believe, is a grave sin and there’s just no way that I would be sitting here lying . . .  like this.”  Well, a lot of folks have been looking into Carson's honestly and have good reason to doubt it.

Ben Carson, who was a junior at Detroit's Southwestern High school in 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King was killed, told the Wall St. Journal last month that he sheltered some white students from attacks by fellow black student in the school's biology lab.   The problem is that his story couldn’t be confirmed in interviews with a half-dozen of Carson’s classmates or his high school physics teacher. The students all remembered the riot-- but none recalled hearing about white students hiding in the biology lab, and Carson couldn’t remember any names of those he sheltered.

Carson’s campaign manager, Barry Bennett, addressed the controversy by saying there was no evidence that any aspect of Mr. Carson’s biography wasn’t true.

Carson also claimed in his autobiography that he was recognized for his honesty in  incident in his Yale psychology class.  According to Carson, his professor told the students in the Perceptions 301 class that their final exam papers had been accidentally burned, requiring all 150 students to retake it.  When the students saw that the new exam was tougher, all the students but Carson walked out.  Carson recalled:  “The professor came toward me. With her was a photographer for the Yale Daily News who paused and snapped my picture,”  The teacher allegedly told Carson that the exam burning incident was a hoax.  The professor told Carson that he wanted to see who was the most honest student in the class,  and handed him a $10 bill.

No photo identifying Mr. Carson as a student ever ran, according to the Yale Daily News archives, and Yale Librarian Claryn Spies has publicly stated there was no psychology course by that name or class number during any of Mr. Carson’s years at Yale.

Carson has also claimed  when living in poverty, he lashed out in anger and violence at others until a religious transformation at age 14.  Reporters conducting interviews in his former Detroit neighborhood have been unable to verify Carson’s stories of violence, including attempting to stab a boy in the stomach.  Nobody who knew Carson as a youth recalled any such trouble.  Most of Carson’s former friends and neighbors remember him much as he is today-- soft-spoken and studious.

Carson has also repeatedly asserted that he turned down a scholarship offer from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.   In fact, West Point does not offer scholarships-- attendance at the academy is free to those who are accepted.  Carson's spokesperson later revised that claim, saying that Carson was offered a “nomination” to West Point without ever having applied.

Carson has also claimed that, as a young doctor, he had a gun stuck in his ribs at a Popeye’s restaurant in Baltimore near Johns Hopkins University.  The Baltimore Police Department later said it couldn’t find a report matching the incident Carson described.

During the campaign, Carson has continually maintained that he “didn’t have an involvement” with Mannatech Inc., a marketing company that has been embroiled in controversy over deceptive trade practices.   From 2004 until early 2014 however, Carson made videos and spoke at numerous company events promoting Mannatech and its products.   Mannatech's website has recently been cleansed of any mention of the candidate and all videos featuring the GOP candidate have been removed.

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