Ben Carson's Most Provocative Lines

Ben Carson speaks during a presidential-candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina. Carson has recently made headlines for his controversial statements, but he says that they're taken out of context. Chris Keane/REUTERS

When you listen to Ben Carson speak, you hear a soft, measured voice marked by an upward lilt that bookends his sentences, almost like he's pleading for your understanding—or for you to remain calm.

Never has such a mellow man said so many incendiary things. His statements startle, but he often accuses the media of pulling the most colorful language out of context, and that's a fair point: Carson has to be studied in depth to be fully appreciated.

Here are some of Carson's most eye-catching quotes (with as much context as possible in the form of links). Don't call them gaffes, because they only seem to add to his popularity.

On Whether Being Gay Is a Choice



"Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight and when they come out they're gay. So did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."

(He later wrote a statement of apology to "all that were offended" by the comments.)

On a Muslim Being President

Carson recently gave a full explanation about his stated opinion that a Muslim could not be president. Or that he wouldn't support them. Or something.

"If you heard the whole conversation, I said...anybody from any background, religious or otherwise, who accepts the values of America and is willing to put our Constitution above their beliefs, is fine with me. And then it continued in another vein bringing up somebody who perhaps did not fit into that category. Well, if they don't fit into that category because of their belief system, and in this case the assumption being that they are Islamic believers—part of the Islamic belief system, which is a lifestyle, not just a simple religion, includes Sharia."

On the New AP U.S. History Curriculum

"I think most people, when they finish that course, they'd be ready to go sign up for ISIS."

Why, you ask?

"There's only two paragraphs in there about George Washington.... Little or nothing about Dr. Martin Luther King. A whole section on slavery and how evil we are. A whole section on Japanese internment camps and how we slaughtered millions of Japanese with our bombs. A whole section on how we wiped out American Indians with no mercy."

On Why America Did Those Things

"Because we're people. And all people make mistakes."

Again, this is all verbatim.

On His Plans to Fix the Education System

"I think the Department of Education should monitor institutions of higher education for political bias and withhold federal funding if it exists."

In the same interview, he said we should focus more on STEM, where we're falling behind. Because unlike U.S. history, math and science are never politically biased.

On the Theory of Evolution

"I had an opportunity to have a debate publicly with Don Johanson, the famous archaeologist...who discovered Lucy, the so-called missing link. And he shows this all over the world, you know, this little skull with a protruding mandible and a receding forehead...and I said, you know, I'm a neurosurgeon, and I operate on a lot of people who have, you know, deformed skulls and things, and eventually they die and they get buried and years later somebody like you comes along and finds their skull and says they found the missing link."

And moreover:

"Why is there only one of them? Why isn't there a whole colony of them? How can you dig up this one little thing and then extrapolate?"

To be fair, this was before he was running for president.

On the Age of the Earth

"You go back to the very first chapter in the Bible—and I'm not a hard-and-fast person who says the Earth is only 6,000 years old, but I do believe in the six-day creation. [The Bible] says in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. It doesn't say when He created them except for in the beginning. The Earth could have been here for a long time before He started creating things on it."

Later, he told Newsweek, "I don't know how old the Earth is or the distance between ages."

On the U.S. Being Similar to Nazi Germany

From back in 2014:

"[In Nazi Germany] you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe. It's because of the PC police, it's because of politicians, it's because of news."

On Gun Control Contributing to the Holocaust

In his new book, A More Perfect Union, Carson writes, "Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance."

When asked by Wolf Blitzer whether the Holocaust would have happened in the absence of gun-control laws:

"I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed."

On the Affordable Care Act

"Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government."

Later, clarifying that Obamacare is indeed worse than Jim Crow, World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and internment camps:

"All of those things are bad, but those do not fundamentally change the United States."

On Marx, Lenin and Alinsky

At a church event this year, Carson explained where the country is headed:

"People who read a lot know exactly what I'm talking about. If you go back and you look at the writings of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin and Saul Alinsky...they talk about how important it is to bring the U.S. into line with everybody else in order to achieve a new world order. But in order to do that, they would have to knock down the strongest pillars: the Judeo-Christian belief system and the strong family values."

In Response to the Mass Shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College

Via Facebook:

"As a Doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies. There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking—but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."

On What He Would Have Done in a Shooting Situation

Courtesy of Fox & Friends:

"Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, Hey, guys, everybody attack him, he may shoot me, but he can't get us all. [Laughs.]"

On What He Actually Did in a Shooting Situation

"I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye's organization.... Guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs. And I just said, 'I believe that you want the guy behind the counter.'"

Later, he clarified, "The resolution was, [the gunman] said, 'Oh, sorry,' and then he went to the appropriate person behind the register who gave him the money, and he left the store running before the police got there."

On President Obama's Call for Gun Control

Speaking to Newsmax TV, Carson addressed reports that the Oregon shooter was executing Christians, and why the president did not address this:

"He [Obama] has been very reticent to mention Christians in the Middle East who are being massacred as well. I'm not sure why he has so much trouble actually articulating the words. It does make you wonder a little bit."

How would the president have reacted if Muslims had been killed in a mass shooting?

"He would have had a seizure over it."

On Himself and His Plans to Win the Nomination

"I don't think like a normal politician, because I'm not a politician. And I just think in terms of continuing to get my message out there, helping people to see who I am as opposed to who some of the media says I am, and they will make the appropriate decision."