On Wednesday's CNN Tonight, host Don Lemon was joined by fellow CNN host and comedian W. Kamau Bell to argue that Dr. Ben Carson deserved to be criticized for his recent comments that included African slaves with other "immigrants" as they argued that President Barack Obama's similar words highlighted by conservatives were somehow different and justifiable.
Although Dr. Carson's use of the word "immigrants" in his speech to HUD was a large component of the lambasting he attracted from liberals, Bell shifted the focus away from the use of the word "immigrants" to Dr. Carson's comments about slaves dreaming of a better life -- as if it were unreasonable to think slaves would have hoped that their children would some day have a better life.
After playing clips of Dr. Carson and then of former President Obama calling slaves "immigrants" in a speech in 2015, Bell exclaimed: "That is clearly not the same thing! Stop it! Stop it!"
Happy to hear his guest's response, Lemon excitedly responded: "Thank you! I was listening -- I was like: It's not the same thing! Thank you very much."
Bell expanded on his rationalization:
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You could even hear -- you could even hear how President Obama was like: "Should I be saying this? This is probably not exactly." He even slowed himself down, like, "Oh, I've let the horse out of the barn -- I got to go get it." Whereas Ben Carson was like: "Hey, everybody, gather around. Got a story to tell you about America." That's not the same thing, and anybody who's making it the same thing doesn't understand how language works.
After the two paused briefly because of a technical hitch, Lemon followed up:
I got to ask because context is everything -- I don't know if the venue mattered, but I think the way he phrased it was completely different, right? He -- with a caveat saying, "And those with an African heritage who came over here involuntarily."
Even though Dr. Carson clearly referred to Africans as having come in "slave ships" and that they "worked even longer, even harder for less," Bell seemed to think Carson had somehow tried to sugar coat slavery as he added:
Yeah, the whole "involuntarily" thing means he's talking about slavery and understands that they didn't want to come here. And also he didn't attach it to the same sort of, like, romantic American dreams that Ben Carson attached it to as if the people on the middle passage were, like, "I have a dream." They didn't know where they were going. There were no dreams.