Another day, another dubious claim of violence from Dr. Ben Carson, a man who, for whatever reason, would very much like you to believe he stabbed a friend in the stomach and tried to attack his own mother with a hammer.
Carson’s stories of unbridled childhood violence have been well-documented in his books, which present varying accounts of a few key stories. There’s the time he punched a classmate in the head with a metal lock. The time he threw a rock at a friend’s face. The time he tried to hit his mother in the head with a hammer. And the cornerstone of his redemption story: the time he stabbed a friend.
Carson’s accounts of these acts of violence—which allegedly occurred around 50 years ago—are, at best, inconsistent. He attributes the shift to the elapsed time, explaining to CNN, “Have you ever played that party game where you whisper into the person’s ear and then they tell it, and by the time it gets all the way back around it’s a different story? That’s what we’re talking about here.”
Nine friends, classmates and neighbors who grew up with Carson told CNN they have no memory of the anger or violence the candidate has described.
That person is unrecognizable to those whom CNN interviewed, who knew him during those formative years.
All of the people interviewed expressed surprise about the incidents Carson has described. No one challenged the stories directly. Some of those interviewed expressed skepticism, but noted that they could not know what had happened behind closed doors.
Gerald Ware, a classmate at Southwestern High School said he was “shocked” to read about the violence in Carson’s book.
“I don’t know nothing about that,” said Ware, who still lives in southwestern Detroit. “It would have been all over the whole school.”
Carson now offers several explanations for the apparent contradictions raised by the CNN report. The first, and least convincing: he had already changed his ways by high school.
“I don’t want to expose people without their knowledge, but remember, when I was 14, when the knifing episode occurred, that’s when I changed, that’s when most of the people I talked to began to know who I was, they didn’t know me before then,” Carson told CNN. (As CNN points out, several of its sources were Carson’s friends and acquaintances from elementary school and junior high.)
Second: he used fictitious names in his books.
“I don’t like to generally bring them in, the names I used for instance are fictitious names because I don’t want to bring people into something like this because I know what you guys do to their lives,” Carson reportedly explained during a book stop in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
The third: the stabbing victim he repeatedly refers to as a “friend” was actually a close relative.
“The person that I tried to stab, I talked to today and said, ‘Would they want to be revealed?’ They were not anxious to be revealed, and it was a close relative of mine. I didn’t want to put their lives under the spotlight,” Carson reportedly told Megyn Kelly Thursday.
Not buying the “stabb” story is Donald Trump, who tweeted and deleted a surprisingly cogent, typo-riddled response this morning.
So we have a presidential candidate—a front-running presidential candidate—desperately trying to defend the claim that he nearly murdered multiple relatives, while his rival tries to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of voters.
If Ben Carson didn’t attack his own mother with a hammer, what else isn’t he capable of?