(CNN) - Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon and a popular figure among conservatives, compared the United States to the Third Reich in an interview.
Asked to elaborate on his previous comments about the U.S. living in "a Gestapo age," the conservative firebrand argued the country has become "very much like Nazi Germany."
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"I know you're not supposed to say Nazi Germany, but I don't care about political correctness," he said in an interview Monday with the conservative news outlet Breitbart.
His comments came at the New York Meeting, a gathering of conservative politicians, journalists and business leaders.
Carson, who came in third in the GOP presidential nomination straw poll at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference, has been a fierce critic of the administration on the IRS controversy. The tax agency admitted last year to scrutinizing conservative political groups, though it maintains the error was not done out of political bias.
"You had the government using its tools to intimidate the population," Carson said. "We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe."
The neurosurgeon gained political fame after he publicly criticized some of President Barack Obama's policies in front of the President at last year's National Prayer Breakfast.
He quickly became a GOP star and was sometimes mentioned as a potential presidential candidate.
But he lost some of that star power after making controversial comments last year. In one instance he compared the federal health care law to "slavery."
And he sparked strong backlash when he equated homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality during a television interview about same-sex marriage. Facing loud opposition, he apologized and withdrew from speaking gigs at Johns Hopkins medical school and an event for the American Academy of Physicians Assistants.
As proven by last week's straw poll results at CPAC, however, Carson still has support among the conservative wing of the base.
In the interview Monday, Carson said people are afraid to speak "because of the PC police," and he blamed politicians as well as the news media.
"All of these things are combining to stifle people's conversations," he said.
He argued that if people "are afraid to talk," they'll never reach consensus and they'll grow further apart. "That's exactly what's happening, creating a horrible schism that will destroy our nation if we don't fix it."
Asked if he was interested in a White House bid, Carson said "I wouldn't mind going as a visitor."