Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was the butt of the internet’s jokes this week after a questionable photo surfaced online.
A pic tweeted out Tuesday by a member of President Donald Trump‘s re-election campaign shows Carson, a famed Black neurosurgeon, posed awkwardly among a sea of white faces on a jet headed home from Monday’s eventful Iowa caucus.
“So much winning,” Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director, captioned a post showing Carson, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, multiple Republican congressmen, and dozens of other Trump loyalists sporting MAGA-inspired hats that read “Keep Iowa Great.”
Hilarity ensued, as critics poked fun at Carson as allowing himself to be peddled as the token Black — again. Carson is the only Black member of Trump’s Cabinet.
Filmmaker Tariq Nasheed slammed the post as a “Look, we aren’t racist because we’re sitting with one black guy” photo op.
“It looks like they had Ben Carson is there serving food and beverages, then someone said ‘sit down and get in the picture with us, uncle Ben,” he added.
“I wonder how long before he was sent back to the back,” someone else joked.
Others couldn’t help but notice Carson, 68, didn’t have a seat of his own and was instead forced to squat on the arm of a chair in the center aisle. And it didn’t help that the viral photo also made its rounds on the birthday of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, prompting even more jabs.
“Rosa Parks fought so hard so … Ben Carson could kneel in the aisle of a plane full of bigots,” one user wrote.
“I’m just sad that on Rosa Parks’ birthday, neurosurgeon Ben Carson gives up his seat to a bunch of white Trump supporters in Keep Iowa Great MAGA hats,” Dr. Eugene Wu chimed in.
Another critic opined that “Ben Carson standing on the back of the bus on #RosaParks birthday during #BlackHistoryMonth is peak Trump GOP.”
Donald Trump, Jr. was quick to chime in when former Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill tweeted the photo with this caption: “One of these things is not like the others. Hint: they made him squat in the aisle so he was visible.”
Jr. and others jumped at the opportunity to shift the conversation by criticizing McCaskill for appearing to refer to Carson as a “thing.”
This wouldn’t be the first time the HUD secretary was made the laughing stock of social media. Last year, Carson’s critics cracked up when he seemingly confused the real estate term REO (real estate-owned properties) with an Oreo cookie during an embarrassing exchange with California Rep. Katie Porter.
“I would also like to ask you to get back to me, if you don’t mind, to explain the disparity in REO rates,” Porter began. “Do you know what an REO is?”
“An Oreo?” Carson replied.
“No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O,” the congresswoman shot back before asking a befuddled Carson to complete the acronym.