Now it’s not that slaves were “immigrants,” but that they were “involuntary immigrants.”
Is that even a thing?
Merriam-Webster defines “Immigrant” this way:
Definition of immigrant
- : one that immigrates: such as : a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence
- : a plant or animal that becomes established in an area where it was previously unknown
I don’t think slaves fit either of those.
As I said elsewhere, they didn’t “come” to America. They were brought to America, against their will.
To paraphrase a reader from the original post: If you use chloroform to knock out an individual at a bar, drag them back to your home and chain them up in your basement, does that make them an “involuntary houseguest”?
Speaking on the Sirius XM program of Armstrong Williams, Dr. Carson doubled down when a caller called in to rail on him about his earlier remarks.
“I think people need to actually look up the word immigrant,” Carson said. “Whether you’re voluntary or involuntary, if you come from the outside to the inside, you’re an immigrant. Whether you’re legal or illegal, you come from the outside to inside, you’re an immigrant. Slaves came here as involuntary immigrants but they still had the strength to hold on.”
One woman who called into the show said she disagreed with Carson, arguing, “you can’t be an immigrant if you’re brought over here in chains.”
“Yes you can, you can be an involuntary immigrant,” Carson responded.
Intent, Dr. Carson.
They were kidnapped, and all they wanted, I’m sure, was to go home and go back to their lives.
“We should be proud to have ancestors that had the mental strength to endure what so many others had not been able to endure,” he continued.
“They tried to enslave all kinds of people but they were not able to survive it and that requires a tremendous amount of toughness and will power and strength and hope and they had that. Don’t let someone turn that into something bad.”
Because they survived it, as a people, still doesn’t change the definition of the word “immigrant.”
Dr. Carson went on to talk about the mental toughness that facilitated the survival of African slaves, when others had died.
Now I want to know specifics, like, what slaves didn’t survive?
Well, they’re not immigrants, and it’s not like they all died, either, though many did during resettlement.
Are there any other “involuntary immigrants” brought into slavery that didn’t make it?
Yeah. I don’t get it, either.
Carson posted a statement to his Facebook page:
I’m proud of the courage and perseverance of Black Americans and their incomprehensible struggle from slavery to freedom. I’m proud that our ancestors overcame the evil and repression that we know as slavery.
The slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences. Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and forced against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders.
The Immigrants made the choice to come to America. They saw this country as a land of opportunity. In contrast, slaves were forced here against their will and lost all their opportunities. We continue to live with that legacy.
The two experiences should never be intertwined, nor forgotten, as we demand the necessary progress towards an America that’s inclusive and provides access to equal opportunity for all.
We should revel in the fact that although we got here through different routes, we have many things in common now that should unite us in our mission to have a land where there is liberty and justice for all.
Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of HUD
Yeah. Ok. You do you, Dr. Carson.