On the same day that President #Donald Trump signed his new order on Moslem Immigration intended to replace the previous order blocked by the courts #Ben Carson entered into the fray in a manner that only increases the current controversy and did nothing to help him in the new office.

Slavery

As reported by the New York Times, CNN and all the major media outlets in the #United States and around the world newly confirmed #housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson in a speech to Department employees described slaves as immigrants.

The comments were immediately criticized, not just by civil rights groups and not only because they were a poor attempt at rewriting history.

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They come when the issue of Moslem immigration is in the spotlight and the fate of refugees was being decided in the Oval Office,

Whether intentional or not, Ben Carson’s statements seemed to redefine basic concepts of current international politics and also fundamental themes of the history not only of the United States, but also of the history of South and North America where slavery played a tragic role.

The current American political climate is struggling with the issues of equal rights and the Black Lives Matter movement is only one face of the population that believes that not all rights are shared equally by the country’s citizens. Not only in matters of basic civil rights, but also in quality of life in all its variations.

Yet the two issues are separate, politically and historically.

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Immigration and Slave History are concepts that have little in common and bringing them together only weakens the importance of both, to the detriment of political debate and to the country.

Historical reality

The historical basis of slavery was that the victims of the inhuman trade had no choice in the course that their lives took. They were kidnapped from their homes, treated in ways that we today cannot imagine and many died even before reaching the first merchants that sold them. The slaves were transported over oceans in conditions that not even animals would have endured and the reports from the times that sharks followed these ships tells us that many of the victims never reached their destination.

We do not need to see “sanitized” television programmes and films to know that their lives were horrific and the simple fact that the United States suffered a Civil War due to this issue, even if disguised as “States’ rights”, is proof that the fate of the slaves horrified many contemporaries who risked jail and worse to help slaves escape.

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Refugees

The problem of refugees and immigration has been part of modern politics and history for centuries, but it was never a matter of commercial sale and exchange of human beings as products. The modern people smugglers take advantage of the refugees fleeing wars and natural disasters for commercial advantage, but at no stage have these activities ever been a legitimate part of a modern government, as was slavery for centuries.

In the Soviet Union “revisionism”, rewriting history was a serious crime. The United States is a modern Democracy where the right to a personal opinion is an untouchable right, but falsifying history is not a legitimate use of that right.

Freedom

The right of free speech comes with limitations and one part of these is respect for the truth and in fact this is recognized by the existence of defamation laws. Distorting history, especially for political motives, is simply another form of manipulating the population and political debate and is certainly not freedom of speech.

In all probability this was not Ben Carson’s intention, but the existence of conspiracy sites with this very intention proves that there are people that attempt this manipulation.

The Housing Secretary and other politicians should not supply ammunition to those whose intentions are as dangerous to the country as the slavery that haunts America’s past and present.