The Carson Paradox and the Sad Reality of Only Sometimes, Only If
Black neurosurgeon and GOP Presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson is a paradox. We respect his accomplishments, especially given his humble beginnings in Detroit, Michigan. And we concede that he has his admirers. According to recent polling, he is a strong second in the Republican presidential race with approximately 20% of Republican voters supporting his candidacy. We nevertheless disagree with 99.9% of his policy positions.
For example, while American’s penal system says much about our society, it does not support his belief that homosexuality is a choice. Sexual assault is neither a question of sex nor preference. Rape is instead is a matter of coercion, a demonstration of power, an example of control and dominance. This is especially true of prison sex.
Men and women in prison assault other prisoners as a way of asserting control and power in an environment where they are powerless. And consistent with the “Stockholm Syndrome”, a psychological survival strategy and psychosis where victims identify with their oppressors, compliant victims of prison rape are simply trying to survive an otherwise hopeless situation. One would think that a well-trained and educated physician like Dr. Carson would be cognizant of this reality.
Nor do we agree with his position on marriage equality. To say that marriage has always been defined as the union between one man and one woman is simply not true. This is but an example of conservative political correctness. Throughout the years marriage has gone through any number of permutations.
For example, in the middle Ages, marriage was not the joining of one man to one woman and love was not a factor. Marriage was instead an arrangement between and the union of two families, employed to preserve wealth, assets and social standing.
And during our formative years only white males and white females could marry. Minorities were denied the bonds of holy matrimony. Even then women were not full partners in the relationship. Rather, they were the legal property of their husbands. Moreover, until the 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving vs. Virginia, couples of different ethnicities could not marry. See https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/388/1.
Of even greater relevance is that white males were not confined to a single white female. At various times in our history men married multiple women, openly and notoriously took child brides and wedded multiple female minors.
Each of these changes in the definition of marriage accrued to the benefit of society. The same may well apply to same-sex marriage, as distasteful to some as that might be.
Yet despite our misgivings about the good doctor, we are in agreement with his recent article regarding Blacks Lives Matter. The movement should indeed refocus.
Specifically, Movement leaders must be more respectful, even to those with whom they fundamentally disagree. As Dr. Carson correctly noted, heckling public speakers, storming the stage at political events, and commandeering microphones will not change what’s wrong in America. Rather, such tactics only serve to damage the Movement by giving opponents something on which to land.
Second, the Movement should be more inclusive. There is nothing wrong with the statement “all lives matter”. Said statement is not only true but by definition includes the lives of African-Americans. At the very least we should not respond with hostility to the phrase. To say that “all lives matter” is not the equivalent of being cursed out.
Third, the Movement should broaden its perspective. It should take on new targets like school boards, the entertainment industry, city hall, crack houses and both the Democratic and Republican parties. We add to the discussion the problems of homelessness, food insecurity, chemical dependency, mental, emotional and physical health as well as decrepit neighborhoods and broken families. These also destroy black lives.
Fourth and most importantly, the Movement must tackle the problem of black on black violence. It is right to be concerned about law enforcement and the criminal justice system. But that’s not enough.
Neither our allies nor our enemies are blind. The world can see full well that while we say that black lives matter, we fail to practice what we preach. Rather, we treat each other with a disdain, indecency and brutality that defy description. And we do so to an extent far greater than our adversaries.
Crack houses kill African-Americans a mile a minute. And in our own version of the “Stockholm Syndrome” we identify more with crack dealers than we do with those who want to put them out of business. We only pray that this Labor Day weekend Chicago does not engage in yet another bloodbath.
But while correct regarding Black Lives Matter, Dr. Carson misses the mark relative to winning the minority vote. We should not and shall not support a party that insults our intelligence. We are no more thralls of the Democratic Party than Dr. Carson is a lackey of the political right.
African-Americans have abandoned the Republican Party because the party has abandoned African-Americans. The same applies to the Hispanic community. The GOP instead panders to its base of older whites, the Tea Party and Christian fundamentalists.
If the GOP wants our vote, it must earn it not with pretty speeches or figureheads but with policies that support our interest. In other words, Black Lives Matter is not the only movement in need of a broader perspective.
Finally, Dr. Carson would do well to follow his own advice. He too should demand more of himself. And he must take on new targets specially the deep vein of hatred and intolerance that now dominates the Republican Party.
In conclusion, to say that black lives matter only when taken by the police while ignoring black on black violence and the other challenges we face imperils the black community far more than law enforcement. It also communicates that which must not stand. Rather than all lives matter, all the time and in all circumstances it says in letters writ large that value of black lives is conditional. Black lives matter only sometimes and only if.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum