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Apr-04-2013 12:56printcomments

The Assault on Ben Carson: Does Free Speech Exist for Black Conservatives?

Free speech for Ben Carson, whatever one thinks of his views, should not be a controversial proposition.

Bon Carson
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(WASHINGTON DC) - Until recently, Dr. Benjamin Carson was highly regarded----and was widely promoted as a role model for African-American young people. Growing up in poverty in Detroit, he went to Yale and the University of Michigan Medical School, and at 33 became director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. He gained fame for a series of operations separating conjoined twins, complex procedures that did not always succeed. His 1996 autobiography, "Gifted Hands," became a movie starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.

"He is one of the acknowledged leaders of pediatric neurosurgery," said Dr. Donlin Long, a retired chairman of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, who first brought Dr. Carson to the department.

In February, speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, with President Obama in attendance, Carson criticized the Obama administration's health care overhaul. Later, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he was interrupted by sustained applause when he said, "Let's just say if you magically put me in the White House..."

Since then, he has been the victim of vitriolic attack, particularly from black liberal commentators who still find it difficult to understand that an individual's race has nothing to do with his political philosophy and how he views the world.

MSNBC's Toure Neblett declared that, "When you're publicly admitting your party doesn't care enough about black America, then it's time for a new black friend. Enter Dr. Ben Carson." And Cynthia Tucker, formerly an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor and now at the University of Georgia's journalism school, said: "It's no wonder that conservatives have started to trumpet him as their Great Black Hope. Psychologists believe that romantic interest increases when people mirror each other's gestures. Carson perfectly reflects the beliefs of his suitors."

Commenting on the attacks upon him, Carson laments that, "That's what you can find on a third grade playground..White liberals are the most racist people there are..they put you in a little category, a little box. You have to think this way. How could you dare come off the plantation?"

In speeches and writings, Carson describes growing up with a divorced mother whose education stopped at the third grade and who worked two, and sometimes three jobs. THE NEW YORK TIMES reports that, "He was teased as 'dummy' because his grades were so bad. But his mother insisted that he and an older brother turn off the television and read, writing weekly book reports that she could only feign understanding."

Dr. Carson says that he was a "flaming liberal" in college and became conservative through his own climb to success. "One thing I always believed strongly in was personal responsibility and hard work," he said. "I found the Democrat Party leaving me behind on that particular issue."

With his wife Candy, Carson founded the Carson Scholars Fund, which awards $1,000 to students to help pay for college and has endowed Ben Carson Reading Rooms at schools that serve disadvantaged students. He belongs to a Seventh Day Adventist Church and draws on the Bible's description of tithing to argue in favor of a flat tax. He advocates an alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Most people, he believes, could pay most of their medical bills through health savings accounts, with the government making the contributions for the poor.

One need not agree with any of Ben Carson's political views to recognize that an individual's opinion on public issues reflects that individual's considered judgment---not his race. Black Americans are as diverse in their views as are Americans of other races.

John McWhorter, a respected black academic, notes that, "...while Democrats seem to think they have the lock on racial enlightenment, it is actually often Republicans who have the larger understanding of what it is to assess people according to the content of their character. Take affirmative action, for example. To proclaim that it's okay to evaluate black and Latino college applicants partly on grades but also on their contribution to 'diversity'---while white and Asian students are required to just put up or shut up---is racist."

In McWhorter's view, "That kind of policy makes sense only as a temporary fix, which is what it should always have been. However, to then slide into the idea that race-based admissions must continue until racism doesn't exist (i.e. never) is to essentially assert that blacks and Latinos are the world's first humans to require perfect conditions to succeed. That's racist, and the right understands that."

In fact, black conservatism is nothing new. It goes back to Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington through George Schuyler and Max Yergan-----and more recently Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams---and a host of distinguished men and women committed to the principles of individual freedom and a genuinely color-blind society.

The current assault on Ben Carson is an attempt to stifle free speech and diversity within the black community, What some self-proclaimed civil rights spokesmen seem to fear is that Ben Carson and other black conservatives will expose them as speaking only for themselves and misrepresenting the constituency in whose name they repeatedly--and falsely---speak.

Free speech for Ben Carson, whatever one thinks of his views, should not be a controversial proposition.

_________________________________________ contributor Allan C. Brownfeld received his B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary, his J.D. degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William and Mary and his M.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. He has served on the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia, and the University College of the University of Maryland.

The recipient of a Wall Street Journal Foundation Award, Mr. Brownfeld has written for such newspapers as THE HOUSTON PRESS, THE RICHMOND TIMES DISPATCH, THE WASHINGTON EVENING STAR and THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. For many years he wrote three columns a week for such newspapers as THE PHOENIX GAZETTE, THE MANCHESTER UNION LEADER, and THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. His weekly column appeared for more than a decade in ROLL CALL, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have appeared in such journals as THE YALE REVIEW, THE TEXAS QUARTERLY, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, ORBIS and MODERN AGE.

Mr. Brownfeld served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and was the author of that committee's 250-page study of the New Left. He has also served as Assistant to the Research Director of the House Republican Conference and as a consultant to such members of Congress as Reps. Phil Crane (R-Il) and Jack Kemp (R-NY) and to the Vice President of the United States.

He is a former editor of THE NEW GUARD and PRIVATE PRACTICE, the journal of the Congress of County Medical Societies and has served as a Contributing Editor AMERICA'S FUTURE and HUMAN EVENTS. He served as Washington correspondent for the London-based publications, JANE'S ISLAMIC AFFAIRS ANALYST and JANE'S TERRORISM REPORT. His articles regularly appear in newspapers and magazines in England, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and other countries. You can write to Allan at


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Nelson April 10, 2013 5:39 am (Pacific time)

Great article! Well done.

txpoontappa April 5, 2013 10:40 am (Pacific time)

He's free to compare being gay to bestiality. And other people are free to broadcast his toxic views far and wide.

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