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Donald Trump is now using racist stereotypes to attack other Republicans

Donald Trump is really, really not happy with the way the Republican race is going. So, of course, he went on CNN and compared his rival Ben Carson to a child molester.

TRUMP: I know it's in the book, that he has got a pathological temper or temperament. That's a big problem because you don't cure that. That's like, you know, I could say, they've say you don't cure — as an example, a child molester, you don't cure these people. You don't cure a child molester. There's no cure for it. Pathological, there's no cure for that.

Trump also claimed that Marco Rubio supports "amnesty" for unauthorized immigrants because he's Hispanic:

BURNETT: Marco Rubio, you disagree with him obviously strenuously on immigration but he is Hispanic, he's obviously -- his parents are Cuban. He has an inspirational story.

TRUMP: That's why he wants amnesty.

Trump is using racist stereotypes against Carson that Carson has used against himself

It's Trump's comments about Carson that are getting the most attention. Trump's being criticized not only for comparing Carson to a child molester – something Carson has never, ever been accused of — but for saying that Carson has a "pathological temper" and a violent history. Those comments played into longstanding racist stereotypes depicting black men as violent, impulsive subhumans (with superhuman strength). They're also, as Trump accurately points out, things that Ben Carson has played up in his own personal history.

For the past couple of weeks, reporters and critics have accused Ben Carson of embellishing parts of his famous autobiography, Gifted Hands. Some of the stories Carson is accused of embellishing make him look particularly good: his claim that he was offered a full scholarship to West Point, for example, or that he was once given $10 for being "the most honest person" in a psychology class at Yale. But Carson's stories about his earlier life, when he was a teenager, might have been embellished to make him look bad — to make him look unusually violent.

Carson's autobiography really does claim he tried to hit his mother with a hammer. It does claim he tried to stab someone. It does claim he swung a padlock at someone's head. And it does diagnose him with a "pathological temper":

ben carson book pathological temper

(Screenshot via Google Books)

Several people who knew Carson when he was a teenager, interviewed by CNN last week, don't recall him being anything like this. Whether or not Carson's autobiography embellishes his teenage temper, he clearly made a deliberate choice to include it as an important part of his personal story. Carson is using the old association of black men with hyperviolence as the setup for an inspirational story: He used to be a hyperviolent black man, but he got better, and therefore other black teenagers can overcome their own violent impulses.

What Trump is saying, of course, is that Carson's "pathological" temper is part of his nature — this is where the child molester comparison comes in. In other words, where Carson only used one angle of the "black savage" trope, Trump is embracing the whole thing. But it's still worth noting that he's using, against Carson, the same stereotype that Carson used against his own past self.


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