Ben Carson reveals arrogance through comments on Oregon shooting

Mary Dolan

In the wake of the horrific shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College on Oct. 1, many presidential candidates have spoken sympathetically about its events and aftermath. However, more controversial quotes on the issue came from Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, who decided to share his views about what he would have done in the situation.

When speaking to “CBS This Morning,” Carson said he wanted to “plant in people’s minds what to do in a situation like this … I would ask everybody to attack the gunman because he can only shoot one of us at a time. That way, we don’t all wind up dead.”

When asked about his comments in a later interview, Carson reiterated that “if you sit there and let him shoot you one by one, you’re all going to be dead.”

Carson’s comments have prompted public backlash, and with good reason. It’s easy for him to sit back and talk about what he would have done in such a situation, but no one truly knows what would happen if they were involved in a shooting. By claiming he would have encouraged others to attack the shooter so that everyone wouldn’t “wind up dead,” Carson is arrogantly casting himself as a hero in a theoretical situation that could play out a lot differently in real life than it does in his head.

Carson also manages to belittle the shooting’s victims. By saying that people shouldn’t “sit there and let him shoot you one by one,” Carson implies that the victims were somehow too weak to take down the shooter, and that perhaps they would have been able to stop him if they’d tried (or had Carson been there to encourage them to attack). It is crass to blame the students for obeying the shooter in a confusing and terrifying situation and to act like they were somehow in the wrong for reacting in a way they thought might save their lives.

“I think [Carson’s comments] are very insensitive to those who were involved in the shooting,” said Ashley Alcantara, international relations and global studies senior and communications director for University Democrats. “I don’t think anyone can predict how they would react in such a situation, and I especially don’t think Carson should be shaming victims for trying to hide or protect themselves in a dangerous situation.”

Carson’s words have not offended everyone — fellow Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump defended them in a tweet saying that Carson was speaking in “general terms” and was “not criticizing the victims.”

Besides Trump, Carson has had few people back him up, and that fact shouldn’t surprise him. His comments reveal his arrogance and condescension that those following the election should take care to remember. Donald Trump may have him beat in the area of “foot in mouth” moments, but Ben Carson shouldn’t be let off the hook.

Dolan is a journalism sophomore from Abilene.