Oh, Ben Carson, what went wrong? He was the pride of the black community back in the day, with his leadership in neurosurgery and his autobiography-turned-film, Gifted Hands.
But then he started speaking out — about politics — and decided to run for president. Now we don’t know him anymore, as he has become the darling of white conservatives.
Ben Carson would be the anti-Obama, the first black president designed especially for white conservatives. For the white right wing, he would be their useful Negro in Washington — better yet, their magical Negro.
Rupert Murdoch already set the stage for us, with a tweet that told us exactly what he thought of Carson as president versus the black president currently in the White House:
After all, who is better qualified than Rupert Murdoch to determine who is a real black president? Murdoch later apologized, but surely he knew what he was doing. White conservatives — tired of hearing about racism and the complaints of black folks, and longing for the days when they could simply run roughshod over people of color without backtalk and uppityness — need a Ben Carson. And they’ve had a long time to think about this.
Clarence Thomas was the original prototype. By no means among the most qualified candidates for the Supreme Court — and not even the most qualified black Republican — Thomas served a useful role on the nation’s high court in dismantling everything his predecessor Thurgood Marshall stood for.
Although he benefited from affirmative action and the civil rights movement, he and his handlers positioned him as the up-by-your-bootstraps Horatio Alger in blackface who needed no one to get ahead and made it up the ladder on his own. The story was made out of whole cloth, and it was not designed for black consumption, though some in the African-American community fell for the okeedoke, and it was too late once they woke up.
What we have gotten is a lot of self-hate, hatred of black people from the bench, and outright attacks on the legacy of the civil rights movement, including the gutting of the Voting Rights Act.
Enter Ben Carson, with his story of growing up in poverty and not needing government programs to get ahead. Since he entered the race, he’s just become worse and worse. In 2013, he said Obamacare was the worst thing to happen to Americans since slavery. He argued that homosexuality is a choice, asserting that prisons make you gay. Then, the doctor said that a Muslim should not become president, then said he could support a Muslim who denounces Sharia law, as if he really knows what Sharia law is.
Now, Carson is weighing in on the gun debate following the massacre in Roseburg, Oregon. Carson called for arming Kindergarten teachers, argued that the victims in the massacre should have fought the gunman, and even suggested the Holocaust “would have been greatly diminished” if Hitler had not disarmed the German people. And Carson also made comments directed towards LGBT families by claiming “traditional families with traditional, intact values do much better in terms of raising children. So let’s stop pretending that everything is of equal value.”
Carson is on the scene in order to make white conservatives feel comfortable in their skin and to validate them and their racism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, their desire to return to the 1950s, and everything else. “A black man said it, so it must be alright,” they’ll say. A trail of outlandish, offensive comments is the only way a black man will get ahead in today’s GOP, the de facto party of white nationalism, for all of their lip service to outreach and the so-called big tent. And in the primaries, Trump and Carson are giving the unhinged white Republican base all the raw meat they can eat.
To his credit, Carson did break with Jeb Bush and supported a reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, which does not fit into the Tea Party agenda. But on everything else, he is on point- — if you are a white conservative, that is.
Ben Carson should know better, but he is giving the voters what they want. No one is saying black people should be monolithic and think the same way, but Carson is not for black interests, nor is he intended for a black audience.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter @davidalove