Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. | Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post via AP, Pool
Amid ongoing demonstrations against racism, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said America needs to stop being offended about everything and “grow up.”
On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Carson was asked whether it was appropriate for President Donald Trump to give his convention speech on Aug. 27 in Jacksonville. That date is the 60th anniversary of “Ax Handle Saturday,” when a white mob organized by the Ku Klux Klan attacked mostly black civil rights protesters in the Florida city.
“We’ve reached a point in our society where we dissect everything and try to ascribe some nefarious notion to it,” replied Carson, the only black member of Trump’s Cabinet. “We need to move away from being offended by everything, of going through history and looking at everything, you know, of renaming everything.”
He continued, “Some of our prestigious universities have a relationship with the slave trade. Should we go and rename those universities? It really gets to a point of being ridiculous after a while. And, you know, we’re going to have to grow up as a society.”
Activists have argued that monuments and buildings honoring the Confederacy, slavery and white supremacy should be removed or renamed. Statues, like ones of Christopher Columbus and Jefferson Davis, have been toppled. The Clemson University Board of Trustees voted to remove the name of slave owner and secessionist John C. Calhoun from its honors college.
Meanwhile, cities continue to be gripped by demonstrations against police brutality. Fresh outrage was sparked in Atlanta after the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks, a black man, on Friday night — leading to an officer being fired, the police chief stepping down and instant condemnation.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who appeared on ABC shortly after Carson, said it was “a fairly infantile response” to say words and dates don’t have meanings.
“This isn’t about growing up,” Abrams said. “It’s about taking responsibility and having accountability for the actions that have been taken by this country and by people acting on behalf of this country. And we do have a day of reckoning and that day of reckoning is going to continue until we actually make change.”
The administration has come under fire for finalizing its rollback of Obama-era LGBTQ health protections on Friday, on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shootings, in the middle of Pride month and during a global pandemic.
And, after pressure to delay his upcoming campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., Trump moved the rally to June 20 rather than Juneteenth, the day honoring the end of slavery — a major holiday for many African Americans.
Carson on Sunday said Trump was planning to make remarks about the Tulsa race massacre and the history of Black Wall Street in his campaign rally. “But, you know, it is what it is. And it’s probably good to have moved it,” Carson added.