Viewpoint: Leave Ben Carson Alone

History has shown that black conservatives don't impede racial progress.

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Douglas Graham / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images

Dr. Ben Carson speaks during the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center at National Harbor, Md., on Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ben Carson criticized Obamacare, sharply, with Obama listening, at the National Prayer Breakfast in February. And Carson is black.

Yes, Carson is the black – gasp – conservative of the moment, this weekend also speaking out against gay marriage, for which he has been forced to apologize.

Unsurprisingly, Carson, an accomplished neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, has been celebrated by the right, and is considering politics. Enter the usual dogpile from black commenters: Carson as a traitor, a sellout, airing his views not from sincerity but because he wants to please the white establishment and make a buck.

Many wonder why so many black people seem to treat true diversity of opinion as heresy. There is, in fact, a reason which, in itself, makes sense. The idea is that black conservatives, in distracting whites from thinking about racism, impede black progress and even give entrée to a possible racist backlash.

That’s not crazy at all – but the problem is that history has shown it to be invalid.

(MORE: John McWhorter on Stop-and-Frisk Isn’t the Problem)

We can go back to the fifties, when black columnist and author George Schuyler went sharply rightward in his opinions. Schuyler disapproved not only of Malcolm X but Martin Luther King, Jr.

So, black columnist Carl Rowan dissed Schuyler as being “shrewd for telling white America what it wanted to hear.” Others tarred Schuyler later as “on a quest for mainstream acceptance,” “self-hating” and so on.

Yet during exactly the time Schuyler was giving such offense, America witnessed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with a president of Southern origins playing a key role in ushering them into reality.

It would appear that Schuyler’s views had rather little effect upon black progress. We move on.

Say, to the nineties. Ever since Shelby Steele published his National Book Award-winning The Content of Our Character in 1990, the same types who hated on Schuyler have used him for target practice. Steele argued that for black liberals, decrying racism has become a power ploy used in place of concrete achievement. In most black circles, one is to roll one’s eyes at the mention of his name. Once again, we are to suppose thoughts like his threaten to set blacks back.

But they haven’t.

By the early 2000s, the CEOs of AOL Time Warner, American Express and Merrill Lynch were all black, as were the presidents of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the American Bar Association. The black middle class had continued to grow. The Mayor of Atlanta was a black woman – imagine how likely that would ever have seemed to the grand old Civil Rights leaders just a generation before.

(MORE: The Identity Card by Shelby Steele)

Then I might note that I myself got a reputation as a dreaded black “conservative” in the wake of my own Losing the Race in 2000. Never mind that I am a contrarian Democrat rather than a right-winger; the impression sticks among many that I am a man of the right. All I know is that since I started writing on race, America has elected a black man President not once but twice, while residential segregation for blacks is the lowest it has been since the Warren Harding administration.

Black people keep on keeping on. We always have. If there is really such a thing as black pride, we need to celebrate our resilience and progress and let go of the idea that our well-being depends on whites being exquisitely tuned to the nuances of racism and its legacies.

After all, no matter how plausible that may sound, there is no evidence of its validity. The data is in now: black people airing non-left opinions does not hold the race back. As such, the soul patrol may safely leave Ben Carson alone.

101 comments
JohnClemensMcculloughIII
JohnClemensMcculloughIII

A Polluted Lake
Or
The Fools That Live In The CUL-DE-SAC

You mean there is no one able to rise above the oil sheen and take a look at what is happening to the lake, to see how its being polluted?

There’s this lake with lake life and the surface has an oil sheen; yes the lake is polluted. The inhabitants of the lake live in the pollution unaware. The hazards are immense and the... clarity of life is confused. Don’t eat this, don’t eat that and this is healthy. The stress level is high and yet no one understands what is creating the stress. Reaction upon reaction with no due speculation to any of the actions. The counsel given is by the same persons who they themselves are in denial to facts of their environment just as the rest of the inhabitants. The appointed ones are placed because the true leadership has no recognition of being valid. The inhabitants are consumed with what they want to believe and condemn all other statements as error and unconceivable; when in fact they practice such issue causing abrasiveness themselves. The lake's society becomes unlivable to life itself as well and the environment to support its life’s society.

moyatak
moyatak

To Dr. Carson

i'm 22 years old  black men . about year ago i read this article on ebony magazine  1 out  of 8 black women get breast caner and a lot of black man die of cancer in america . they are dyeing because of there insurance doping them because of per existing condition  or they cant afford insurance . Dr Carson: should know better running around the country talking about   The universal Health Care is bad . that's just wrong because . i work about 45-55 hours a week and insurance is still very high for me .it coast about 65$ a week . im barely keeping up with my bills 250$ a month a lot of money . im not some free loader i work hard , i bet there are lot of you out there can relate what im talking about 

 with all do respect to Dr.Carson or any conservative out there . i think you guys are wrong because one single republican introduced a better health care system be side this big insurance companies .  

boldandworthy
boldandworthy

To Dr.Carson and John McWhorter: 

From Dr. King: The Black person cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescing; he merely increases the oppressor's arrogance and contempt. Acquiescence is interpreted as proof of the black person 's inferiority.

 They may pay your for the use of your body, but they do not respect you, they will not have you to their homes, or churches.  No, they will only use you until a newer model comes along.

boldandworthy
boldandworthy

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  How much did it cost?  Judas betrayed Jesus for only  30 pieces of silver, what crumbs did they throw your way.  Remember in the end that those who betray the innocent, just like Judas, end up doing to themselves the evil planned for others.

zaglossus
zaglossus

It's not his views per se that are causing the big ruckus. It's that the Republicans are trying to build this guy up as some sort of black messiah who will peel fellow blacks away from voting Democrat. Hannity, for one, had an hour long special on this guy and it wasn't about his medical accomplishments.

robertbukacera
robertbukacera

Liberal:  Republicans are racist, sexist, homophobic, gun-toting religious fanatics.

Conservative:  But you support the Muslims who are racist, sexist, homophobic, gun toting religious fanatics.

Liberal: That’s their culture.  You have no right to judge them.  

robertbukacera
robertbukacera

Liberal:  I am pro choice

Conservative:  Can I choose to smoke?

Liberal:  No, it’s not good for you.

Conservative:  Can I choose a large soda? 

Liberal: No, it’s not good for you?

Conservative:  Can I choose to own a gun?

Liberal:  No, it’s not safe for kids.

Conservative:  Can I choose low cost coal?

Liberal:  No, it’s not good for the planet?

Conservative:  Can I choose to honor God?

Liberal:  No, that’s offensive.

Conservative:  So what can I choose?

Liberal:  An Abortion. 

robertbukacera
robertbukacera

Liberals fancy themselves as open minded.  However, disagree with them and they'll not only tell you you're wrong, they'll tell you you're mean, evil, and that you want children to starve.  Most liberals won't even consort with non-likeminded people.  Pretty open minded, right?

Conservatives generally think that liberals have good intentions, but are just misguided.  This is why it's useless to argue with a liberal.  It's a waste of time to attempt to engage in a rational argument with people who think you're interested in starving children.  It's like arguing with a random 5 year old. 

Considering the obvious failures of liberal policy in effect, liberalism--and more specifically--Obama worship, is a religion.  No amount of evidence will convince the useful idiots that they're wrong.  

DavidLHucks
DavidLHucks

Diversity...  It was once pursued and celebrated among us.  Ben Carson is the highest example of diversity.  His opinions aren't like those of most black Americans.  His opinions on Gays are different as well.   Why ARE we so afraid of his opinions?   It's as if we question his right to have those opinions.

The left believes the jury is "IN" on all left of center values and beliefs as if they are facts.   Diversity in thought gives us all a chance to re-evaluate a lot of left leaning thinking.   Let's let the arguments stand on merit and quit shouting down good people simply because they have their own thought out opinions.

riccismiles
riccismiles

Who said anything about "holding back"? The reason people go bananas over guys like Dr. Carson are it is just hard to believe a man of color, a man who has a genetic/family direct link to horrible acts of discrimination would EVER stand up for, and be a proponent for MORE segregation. The outcry isnt about "holding us back", most people of color dont worry about the end result because it is usually GOOD and inevitable therby. The problem is no one can believe a "conservative black man or any man of color" would use his time on the soap box to RESTRICT the rights of another consenting intelligent adult who is simply trying to live a non-violent and loving existence. That you (the writer) seems to fail in understanding this is actually both tragic and hilarious because it defines YOU the writer as fully uninformed. It is easier to say the outcry is vanity or pride. How can a man or woman of color be so ignorant of the realities of life? That is the outcry's genesis and YOU (the writer) fit perfectly within the outcry's buckshot.

ShumPreston
ShumPreston

oh come on John, this is just silly.

Carson is rightfully being criticized for the content of his character. he repeated the worst lie and slander against gay people there is, that we are child molesters; his slur perfectly paired two other historic lies--the "blood libel" that Jews kill babies and the Jim Crow myth of black men being rapists.

Such hatred against God's gay/lesbian children is out of step with America, which is why his comments provoked this backlash that has come to define the not-so-good doctor. Isnt this a sign of progress all around?

ShumPreston
ShumPreston

this is pretty silly. Carson is rightfully being criticized for repeating the worst lie and slander against gay people, that we are child molesters. this slur perfectly pairs two other historical lies--the blood libel of Jews killing babies and the Jim Crow lie of black men being rapists. He then made it worse with a b.s. apology "if anyone was offended." It is painful to watch gay-haters grapple with the fact that Americans

HenryMiller
HenryMiller

"The data is in now: black people airing non-left opinions does not hold the race back."

Actually, it looks to me like black people holding on to Left opinions--the opinions of dependency, the sense of entitlement, the frequently vindictive attitude toward whites--is what's holding them back.


How many blacks can't find jobs because businesses are scared of the Left's economy?  How many black-owned businesses have been regulated out of business by the Left's over-regulation.  How many black families have been destroyed by the Left's family disincentives?

PaulSerrano
PaulSerrano

You're SO FAR OFF the point John it's not even funny - Mary Curtis of WaPo fortunately gets it better than even I can say..

"It’s (carson's slavery analogies) insulting to African Americans who happen to be Democrats because JUST MAYBE (emphasis mine) they agree with a majority of the party’s platform. If Carson is off the plantation, does that mean they are on it? Members of the Congressional Black Caucus don’t hesitate to criticize the Democratic Party or the president, most recently for failing to appoint more African Americans to high-level positions in the administration. And the last time I looked, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who survived beatings, batons and worse as a civil rights activist, was nobody’s slave.

Instead of feeling outraged by the slights of white liberals, Carson should appreciate the fact that his every word is scrutinized. That doesn’t mean he’s being treated differently as a conservative black man. It proves that when it comes to politics he’s just like everybody else."

Koiquoe
Koiquoe

Blacks see another Clarence Thomas in Carson. And rightfully so.

Koiquoe
Koiquoe

The author offers a bogus argument of why blacks may be turned off by Carson. Carson would not even consider the idea of becoming president were it not for the precedent set by Obama. But to launch his illusory bid for president, what does he do - he publicly launched a political attack at Obama after Obama invited him to the non-political White House prayer breakfast. Mr. Carson cannot cite any other occasion where offered his advice on healthcare throughout the protracted debate. But found this occasion, not to offer constructive advice, but to use it as a springboard for his political ambition.

Further, Mr. Carson also portrays himself as the paragon of hardwork. That through his mother's wisdom, he made it to where he is. But Mr. Carson fails to mention that it is through the finances (welfare) of others that he was able to attend college and medical school. Yet he supports a party that supports eliminating Pell Grant and Head Start, programs that would give other less fortunate individuals the opportunity to become the next Ben Carson.

Mr. Carson also aligns himself with a party that is actively trying to disenfranchise blacks after the difficult struggle that blacks have undergone to obtain that right. Mr. Carson subtle and overt affronts to blacks for his self-serving purposes are too numerous to list here.

mooklock314
mooklock314

"If there is really such a thing as black pride, we need to celebrate our resilience and progress and let go of the idea that our well-being depends on whites being exquisitely tuned to the nuances of racism and its legacies."

The very idea that you are in any fashion dependent on whites (or anyone or anything) holds you back. Be fearless and resolute and reward will come. Carson's success continues to show why dependency is slavery.

kyronnex
kyronnex

I think people have an irresistible need for a "single picture" similar to the System I coherence model proposed by Daniel Kahnemann. 

And I think this affects both liberals and conservatives.

People cannot keep ideas of personal responsibility (practiced by most republicans) separate from ideas on racism (practiced by some people on the republican rolls). People have a need to paint all republicans as racist even though they are not.

Similarly, people have a hard time keeping ideas of egalitarian justice (practiced by most democrats) separate from ideas of dependency and takers (practiced by some people on the democratic rolls). People have a need to paint all democrats as takers even though they are not.

Ben Carson could a genuine conservative and not be racist at the same time. Now, on the other hand, if he wanted a long form birth certificate or suspected that Obama was born in Kenya or that Obama is a muslim .... then I have no doubts he is a racist! :)

May be we should realize this point and move on ...

JoePhillips
JoePhillips

Liberals hate Carson because he is accomplished much by brains and not because of his skin color like their affirmative idiot Obama!

Bernd_Harzog
Bernd_Harzog

As a conservative who would love to seek Dr. Carson seek a high office in the land (perhaps the highest), I do not want the liberals to leave him alone. Liberals take your best shots now. Let Dr. Carson learn what he is going to endure if he decides to seek office and let him learn how to teach the American people the truth about the failure of your policies and your ideas. If Dr. Carson cannot withstand your criticism and put your ideas and your policies in their rightful place (the dustbin of history), then he is not the right person to lead America back from the disastrous hole that Obama has put us in.

robertbukacera
robertbukacera

...and the Democrats make sure that blacks are kept poor, ignorant, and most importantly....registered Democrats.  If one wanders off the plantation, they must be hunted down and destroyed.  How nice. 

Pundit_Pete
Pundit_Pete

Racism is garbage.

DO NOT recycle.

DO NOT recycle.

Just toss it.

PanchoSeferina
PanchoSeferina

It is funny though...just think of the accomplishment of those race traitors...then think of all the prominent left wing ones that a pop up on TV or run as pols......which ones are the self made and accomplished in their field.

MichaelStaker
MichaelStaker

I agree. We should let him speak. It is his right.

Dr. Carson is a brilliant, world-renowned neurosurgeon. His life story is an amazing story--akin to Frederick Douglass--Ben Carson is a true hero, an American hero! We should listen to what he has to say, and people should quit harassing him just because he does not follow their norm, or some expected "box" they want to pin him into.

We should grant him freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. And we should respect him, as a human being who has overcome significant obstacles and accomplished great things.

He is an American hero, and his courage is admired by any true American.


ThisAngryAmerican
ThisAngryAmerican

Meant to say "Ann Coulter", not Anne (damn auto spell check).

ThisAngryAmerican
ThisAngryAmerican

Dr Ben Carson is absolutely right. Like I posted some where else before, forget the illegals, forget the white Aryans, forget welfare losers, forget al qaeda, and absolutely forget the greedy bankers, it's the racist white liberals that is the real threat to America. They will be the down fall of this once great country. Their belittling of black people, hispanics, and the poor is mind boggling. Many of these white liberals are the broke a** people who can't even take care of themselves, yet they want to save the world. They don't even have a close relationship with their family, yet they want to humanity. Go home and clean up your mess and STFU white liberals. Anne Coulter been saying this for years. Finally, thank Dr Carson for the honest truth. Now watch the white liberals to trip themselves over and intellectualized Dr Carson's comment, as if they don't know what irony is. Hypocrites.

FeralCat
FeralCat

Must not escape from the plantation or lashings will be administered until you get your attitude right.

tacedaniels
tacedaniels

Carson is now part of a party (Republicans) that is working full time to reduce the number of African American voters.

Ben Carson hates Obamacare which would help the working poor get medical coverage.  Of course Carson does not offer any alternatives.

As stooges for the Republican Party, African American conservatives would never say anything against all the hateful and threatening actions of their party towards the first African American President.

As an African American, we hate black republicans just as their party's base hates us.

SteveSerfass
SteveSerfass

@TIMEIdeas Goes to show, anybody's liberal until they're rich. Now it's not black brown red yellow white....it's rich/poor.

hivemaster
hivemaster

Why "leave anyone alone"?  If you put your opinion out there, you're going to get feedback, and not all of the kind you like.  Man up.

armigerous
armigerous

Well,the simple fact is that most black Democrats carry their brains around in their skin....which is what happens when you spend years on a plantation