Ben Carson slams rivals who 'dare not call this tragedy an act of racism'
© Greg Nash

Presidential candidate Ben Carson is challenging his Republican rivals to link last week's attack on a historically black church to racism.

“Not everything is about race in this country. But when it is about race, then it just is," Carson wrote in a USA Today op-ed published Monday.

“So when a guy who has been depicted wearing a jacket featuring an apartheid-era Rhodesian flag walks into a historic black church and guns down nine African-American worshipers at a Bible study meeting, common sense leads one to believe his motivations are based in racism.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Carson, the only black candidate running for the White House in 2016, compared the reluctance from some to label the shooting, which killed nine black congregants, racism to doctors refusing to "make the diagnosis for fear of offending the patient." His column links to video and articles about Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw RNC chairwoman: Republicans should realize distancing themselves from Trump 'is hurting themselves in the long run' Latest Mnuchin-Pelosi call produces 'encouraging news on testing' for stimulus package MORE (R-S.C.) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush hedging on the shooter's motives.

Twenty-one year old Dylann Roof has been charged in the murders and reportedly told police he wanted to start a race war.

"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," Carson said.

"I understand the sensitivities. To some, calling the events in Charleston, S.C., a hate crime reinforces a stigma, which they have fought hard to put behind them. But refusing to call it what it is — racism — is a far more dangerous proposition."

In the video linked in Carson's piece, Graham says that he can't understand what would drive someone to commit those murders but adds it's "probably" a hate crime.

Bush, meanwhile, initially said he didn't know the shooter's motive, but he later referred to it as racism in a speech at a local GOP dinner in Florida, according to the Tampa Bay Times

ADVERTISEMENT

Carson said that, by pretending racism doesn't exist when it is so plain, “we will perpetuate this sickness into the next generation and the next.”

“Now is the time to abandon political expediency and seize this opportunity to demonstrate what we are really made of as a people, as a great country,” he wrote.

“We can come out stronger on the other end of this terrible tragedy, and we can heal this sickness that is crippling our nation. I know we can. But first we have to face the facts.”