Much is being made about Housing and Urban Development Sec. Ben Carson’s statements on Monday that slaves brought to America were immigrants. But despite the liberal outrage over Carson’s remarks, President Obama made similar comments when he was in office.
“That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity,” Carson said during a speech at HUD’s offices.
“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.”
Liberal pundits blasted Carson’s remarks, saying that it is insensitive to use the term “immigrant” to describe people taken to a new country against their will.
But Obama twice made a similar comparison when he was in office.
As Breitbart News reporter Charlie Spiering noted on Twitter, Obama made a similar comparison during a Dec. 2015 speech at a naturalization ceremony.
“Certainly, it wasn’t easy for those of African heritage who had not come here voluntarily and yet in their own way were immigrants themselves,” Obama said.
“There was discrimination and hardship and poverty. But, like you, they no doubt found inspiration in all those who had come before them. And they were able to muster faith that, here in America, they might build a better life and give their children something more.”
Obama made similar remarks at a naturalization ceremony on July 4, 2012. Jeryl Bier, a freelance writer whose work has been featured in The Weekly Standard, found the remarks in Obama’s speech archives.
“We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants. Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande,” Obama said at the ceremony.
A search of news headlines from after Obama’s speeches did not return any coverage of his remarks. Meanwhile, Carson’s remarks were covered breathlessly.
The former neurosurgeon defended his remarks later on Monday.
“I think people need to actually look up the world ‘immigrant,'” he said in an interview with Armstrong Williams. “Whether you’re voluntary or involuntary, if you come from outside to the inside, you’re an immigrant. Slaves came here as involuntary immigrants.”