The slippery Ben Carson
By John F. Kirch
I have always had a positive impression of Dr. Ben Carson, the motivational speaker and professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University whose rags-to-riches story personifies the American Dream.
It didn’t matter to me that Carson articulated traditional conservative talking points like limited government, personal responsibility and a flat income tax.
The problem with Carson is that (1) he would not acknowledge that he is a conservative, characterizing his beliefs as simply “common sense,” (2) he refused to answer questions directly and (3) he would not defend his positions with facts and evidence.
Throughout the interview, Carson skirted major questions about taxes, healthcare, race and history.
He complained about politicians who demonize their opponents, but then he called people who disagreed with him “absurd;” he said those who support “Obamacare” are ideological but that his proposal for health savings account was just common sense; and he arrogantly dismissed callers who challenged his interpretations of American history.
Carson was so slippery that when one caller criticized him for extolling the robber barons while ignoring the fact that they exploited thousands of laborers to build the nation’s infrastructure, Carson simply said: “I think there is absolutely nothing that is ever done that is perfect. It doesn’t matter what you bring up, I can find something wrong with it.”
The most egregious example of Carson’s arrogance, though, came when he was asked to defend his position that political correctness stifles honest debate in America .
The good doctor had just finished ridiculing a group of people who, he said, had “ostracized” a man for using the word “oriental” to describe an Asian. When host Tom Ashbrook followed up by asking if Carson, as an African-American, could think of any terms that might be offensive to him and other black men (i.e., the “N” word), Carson slithered around the issue.
“Let me tell you a secret,” Carson said. “I was doing an NPR interview a few years ago, and the correspondent said, ‘Dr. Carson, I notice y0u don’t seem to mention race very often. Why is that?’ And I said, ‘It’s because I’m a neurosurgeon…’ And I said, ‘You see, when I take someone to the operating room and I cut the scalp and peel it back and take off the bone flap … I’m actually operating on the thing that makes that person who they are. The cover doesn’t make them who they are. And those of us who are extraordinarily superficial in our thinking, we spend way too much time thinking about the cover and way too little time thinking about the content.”
His “answer” not only ignored the important point of the question — namely, that words are powerful instruments that can be destructive and hurtful — it showed that Carson was trying to avoid an issue that undermined his own logic about political correctness.
The interview exposed Carson as a fraud — a man with paper-thin opinions based on either ignorance, self interest or his own sense of right and wrong. They were certainly not based on any facts.
Carson has every right to speak his mind. But for his own credibility, he might want to stay in the operating room rather than venture into the public square.
For more information on Carson, see Towson University journalist Bailey O’Malia’s story.