Dr. Ben Carson, the now-retired world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, appeared in a recently-uploaded interview with YouTube personality Jan Helfeld where he said that the Congressional Black Caucus is essentially acting in a racist fashion if it does not allow non-blacks to join.
“What would you say is racism? How would you define racism?” Helfeld, who regularly uses the Socratic interview technique, asked at the start of the interview.
“I would define it as people making decisions about others based on superficial characteristics and unfairly doing so,” Carson responded. “And in our society today, I think a lot of racism is paternalism. I mean, you believe that certain people can’t do things and that you must do them for them.”
From there, Helfeld posed a series of questions about group membership exclusion based on race. He specifically asked if Carson would call a club or organization not letting a person in because of his or her race “an example of racism.”
“I think that would be a racist policy, yes,” Carson responded.
Next, Helfeld got more specific and asked whether the Congressional Black Caucus’ policy of seemingly only allowing African American representatives to join is also an example of racism. Carson said he was unsure what the rules are on the matter, but Helfeld said that the caucus does not allow white members.
“If that is true and if members of the Congressional Black Caucus would object if there were, let’s say, a Congressional Irish Caucus that wouldn’t let them in, then I think that would be hypocrisy and it would in fact be racist,” Carson said.
Helfeld pushed a bit harder, asking, “But just them not letting them in because they’re white, using their race as a reason not to let them in, that would be an example of racism?”
Carson reiterated that he would “disagree” with such a policy and would characterize it as racism.
From there, the conversation turned to affirmative action, where Carson said he prefers a policy he called “compassionate action,” a process of looking at a college candidate’s entire profile and not just his or her race or ethnicity.
Watch the interview below:
Carson has become a familiar figure in conservative circles over the nine months since he delivered a highly critical National Prayer Breakfast speech in front of President Barack Obama.