Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, United States Ben Carson seems to have started off on a bad note as his description of African slaves as “immigrants” during his first speech a 40-minute address on the theme of America as “a land of dreams and opportunity,” to hundreds of assembled department employees has led to many criticizing him.Mr. Carson turned his attention to slavery after describing photographs of poor immigrants displayed at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. These new arrivals worked long hours, six or seven days a week, with little pay, he said. And before them, there were slaves.
“That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity,’’ he said. “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
The comparison was first reported by USA Today and quickly drew the ire of social media users who attacked the secretary, who is African-American, for what they saw as racially insensitive comments. On Twitter, comedian and actress Whoopi Goldberg recommended Mr. Carson to watch the 1980s mini-series “Roots.”
On Monday night, following a radio interview in which he defended his remarks earlier in the day, Mr. Carson also did so on Twitter. “You can be an involuntary immigrant, slaves didn’t just give up and die, our ancestors made something of themselves. An immigrant is: a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country”.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development had this to say concerning the statement
“This is the most cynical interpretation of the secretary’s remarks to an army of welcoming HUD employees,” the department said in a statement. “No one honestly believes he equates voluntary immigration with involuntary servitude!”
Source: The New York Times