Palm Beach Gardens man Ben Carson on Charlottesville, Trump and race

Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson announcing his support for Donald Trump’s presidential bid at Mar-a-Lago in March 2016. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Daily News)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, the Palm Beach Gardens resident who is the only black member of President Donald Trump‘s Cabinet, has defended Trump and recalled his own encounter with a Confederate flag in a series of Facebook posts since Saturday’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“Let us pray for those killed and injured during the unrest in Charlottesville today, but also for our nation as it is being severely threatened by hatred and bigotry on all sides,” Carson wrote on Saturday afternoon. “I am pleased that the President overtly disavowed any relationship with white supremacists. We should all reject the forces of division on all sides of the political spectrum. There are radical terrorists in the world who want to destroy us and are coming dangerously close to acquiring the means to accomplish their goals. We must present a strong and united front in the future. If America is going to survive, we must not yield to the forces of evil. Remember what our money says: “In God We Trust.” Let’s act accordingly.”

Ben Carson after the first GOP presidential debate in Cleveland in 2015.

On Sunday, after Trump was criticized for saying “many sides” were to blame for the violence, Carson wrote: “It is sad watching the political pundits arguing about whether President Trump went far enough in condemning the instigators of the violence in Charlottesville . The point of my previous post is that we are falling into the trap of fighting ourselves when we have a much bigger enemy who is reveling in the state of confusion and discord that exist in our country. It makes their job of destroying us that much easier. Are we going to wake up or we going to participate in our own distraction?”

On Wednesday, Carson revealed that his home near Washington was recently vandalized “by people who also wrote hateful rhetoric about President Trump.”

Carson lived in Maryland while he was head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University. He retired and moved to West Palm Beach in 2013, then moved to Palm Beach Gardens in 2016. From his latest Facebook post, it appears he also has a residence in Northern Virginia for his HUD job.

“Regarding all of the racial and political strife emanating from the events in Charlottesville last weekend, let me relate a story,” Carson posted on Wednesday. “Several years ago we bought a farm in rural Maryland. One of the neighbors immediately put up a Confederate flag. A friend of ours who is an African-American three-star general was coming to visit and immediately turned around concluding that he was in the wrong place. Interestingly, all the other neighbors immediately put up American flags shaming the other neighbor who took down the Confederate flag. More recently our home in Virginia along with that of a neighbor was vandalized by people who also wrote hateful rhetoric about President Trump. We were out of town, but other kind, embarrassed neighbors cleaned up most of the mess before we returned.

“In both instances, less than kind behavior was met by people taking the high road. We could all learn from these examples. Hatred and bigotry unfortunately still exists in our country and we must all continue to fight it, but let’s use the right tools. By the way, that neighbor who put up the Confederate flag subsequently became friendly. That is the likely outcome if we just learn to be neighborly and to get to know each other.”

Author: George Bennett

George Bennett has been a Palm Beach Post reporter since 1992. He grew up in Bethesda, Md. and is a graduate of The George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @gbennettpost

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