- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Retired neurosurgeon and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson said Wednesday he’s concerned about divisiveness in the country and that Americans should not make it a habit of fighting battles within, but he demurred when asked if he sees an equation between the symbols of the Confederate flag and the gay pride flag.

Mr. Carson, the lone black candidate in the GOP presidential field, said when he moved into his home in Maryland, one of the neighbors put up a big Confederate flag on a barn “I guess as a message to us,” but that all of his other neighbors immediately put up American flags and “shamed” the individual, who took it down.

“And really, that’s what we need to be thinking about,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” “We are social beings as human beings: Let’s send the right messages to each other, and I think that will take care of a lot of our problems. Let’s not just turn a blind eye to things.”

In the wake of last week’s shootings in South Carolina, Mr. Carson appeared to call out others for resisting to tie the shooting deaths of nine African-Americans at a historic black church in Charleston with racism. The suspected gunman was tied to white supremacist groups, and an image of him with the Confederate flag surfaced online.

“Let’s call this sickness what it is, so we can get on with the healing,” Mr. Carson wrote in USA Today. “If this were a medical disease, and all the doctors recognized the symptoms but refused to make the diagnosis for fear of offending the patient, we could call it madness. But there are people who are claiming that they can lead this country who dare not call this tragedy an act of racism, a hate crime, for fear of offending a particular segment of the electorate.”

Mr. Carson said Wednesday he’s very concerned about the “divisiveness” that’s going on in society.

“We have a war on women, we have race wars, income wars, age wars, religious wars, you name it,” he said. “People are stoking the flames of controversy and division, and it’s almost making us look like we have a dysfunctional society. And we’re better than that, and we the American people have to recognize that just because we might have a disagreement about something doesn’t make us mortal enemies. It doesn’t make us people who should destroy the reputation or the business of our fellow Americans. We already have people outside, like radical Jihadists, who want to destroy us — why should we engage in destroying ourselves?”

He also declined to take any direct shots at others Wednesday.

“I think everybody responds in a way that they feel is the most acceptable, and I never try to predict or analyze what other people are thinking — [it’s] probably better just to ask them,” he said.

Mr. Carson, who has stumbled in the past over questions involving gay rights, demurred when asked about equating calls to take down the Confederate flag with the notion of calls to take down the gay pride flag.

“I decided that I really wanted to talk about the Confederate flag during this time,” he said. “If you want to talk about that, let’s do that on a different segment.”

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