Ben Carson and the Alan Keyes Cautionary Tale

Ben Carson

In February of 2013, author and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson gave President Barack Obama a piece of his mind on issues ranging from health care to political correctness, during the National Prayer Breakfast. And a Republican star was born. Earlier this month in a column entitled The Soft Bigotry of Ben Carson, New York Times Op-Ed writer Charles Blow offered this assessment of the confrontation:

“It’s not that others have not criticized the president before or since, but it was the particularity of the racial imagery of Carson’s critique — one smart, accomplished black man undressing another in public — that gave it particular power. It insulated the attack from racial characterization. He said things from the lips of a black conservative that roiled the minds of white ones. And it represented a prominent breaking of ranks, a slicing off of black solidarity from not only Democratic loyalty but also from fidelity with this president.”

The accomplished, soft-spoken Carson currently sits just five points below 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump in a recent release from Public Policy Polling. That is a sentence I’d never thought I’d write in my lifetime, but I digress. Carson may be a brilliant physician but as my sister Jennifer recently and astutely observed, he’s also “frankly, one of the smartest dumb dudes alive.”

In a 2016 Republican primary campaign depressingly rife with distortions, inflammatory hate speech and blatant cynicism, Carson has not been the voice of class and reason for which many undecideds hoped. No matter how accomplished his resume or soft his tenor, the good doctor has disqualified himself over and again for the nation’s highest office – even as “progressive” Republicans and conservative media pundits enjoy their latest mainstream alienating love affair.

I’m quite sure the party’s base would love him to go on talking. Because no matter how outrageous the right has grown in its free political ignorance, as Blow highlights, there are still things white candidates (Donald Trump notwithstanding) can’t allow themselves to say. Such as these gems from the Sunday, September 20 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press:

“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

“Congress is a different story, but it depends on who that Muslim is and what their policies are, just like it depends on what anybody else is. If there’s somebody who is of any faith but they say things and their life has been consistent with things that will elevate this nation and make it possible for everybody to succeed and bring peace and harmony, then I’m with them.”

To quote Bart Simpson, Ay caramba. This was not gotcha journalism (my thoughts on the investigative dereliction of Meet the Pressmoderator Chuck Todd will be happily shared another time). This is an unqualified, racist crackpot speaking with the authority and support (silent or otherwise) of his partymates, trying to convince the rest of us that he is wizened and thoughtful enough to lead a nation of disparate peoples.

23 percent of Muslim Americans identify as black. Most of the remainder are other persons of color. Carson is a person of color, therefore untouchable no matter how hurtful and discriminatory his statements. An ironic carte blanche. See Carson shoot up the polls.

The only qualification Ben Carson seems to possess as a legitimate politician is the ability to talk (or mumble) out of both sides of his mouth. He wants everyone to succeed, peace and harmony for all, but he also wants to exclude an entire group of citizens from the White House against explicit Constitutional decree. Because 9/11 y’all. MD and skin color aside, Carson’s neck is just as red as Mike Huckabee’s.

As a longtime Illinois resident, the Republican and mainstream media’s pathetically forced Carson/Obama symmetry brings to mind the 2004 Senate contest between the future president and political activist, author and former diplomat Alan Keyes. Keyes, an African-American, demonstrated to his party’s caucus that being educated and black was far from enough to counteract Obama’s stride to Washington. The Free Republic reported at the time:

“He’s alienated almost all of the Republican party operatives throughout the state, starting with his wild-eyed rhetoric about Barack Obama’s pro-abortion stance (the ‘slaveholders’ position, similar to a terrorist, etc) and his attack on Dick Cheney’s gay daughter (Keyes called Mary Cheney a ‘selfish hedonist’).”

One has to talk a lot of crazy to alienate the Cheney family. 11 years later, Keyes exists as a frightening, if somewhat humorous political footnote. I eagerly await Carson’s similar recession from the public consciousness.

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5 thoughts on “Ben Carson and the Alan Keyes Cautionary Tale

  1. Light Blue Collar October 8, 2015 / 5:41 am

    So much wrong with what you have done here, it’s like a cafeteria with multiple empty serving lines. I don’t know where to start.

    First off it’s interesting that you (and the rest of establishment media) would deliberately leave out what Ben Carson said to Chuck Todd immediately prior to the soundbite you just love to parade. What quote could that be? “If it’s inconsistent (a candidate’s faith) with the value and principles of America, then of course it should matter. If it fits within the realm of America, and consistent with the constitution, no problem.” Then of course you deny Chuck Todd’s subtle gotcha pivot that led to your promise land. Wait, did I say “…it’s interesting…” ? I did say that didn’t I. I’m sorry, that’s wrong. Your selective editing isn’t interesting, it’s boring and predictable.

    But since you seem to be into the simplistic, the elementary, the managelable, I’ll boil Dr. Carson’s message down for you. It is absolutely true, Article 6 does support Islam, however Islam does not support Article 6 (or any other article). Clear enough?

    So let’s set aside the creative redaction and move on to your “Sticks and Stones” gambit. Ben Carson (and I’m certain some others) has said something to the effect of “You know you’ve won the argument when they start name calling, instead of addressing the issue.” Let’s do a count, shall we?

    1 – “one of the smartest dumb dudes alive” (courtesy of the heralded Jennifer Ashfari)
    2 – “This is an unqualified, racist crackpot…”
    3 – “The only qualification Ben Carson seems to possess as a legitimate politician is the ability to talk (or mumble) ..” (Yeah, it’s not name calling, but I won’t give you a pass on the “mumbling” comment, it’s still a personal shot.)
    4 – “Carson’s neck is just as red as Mike Huckabee’s.”

    Is this some new way of exchanging ideas authored by Dan Rather? An excerpt from the MSNBC employee manual? Or did you just plain give up on addressing the issues because you know this guy is better read, more experienced, and exists in an entirely different dimension of smart relative to yourself and any three people you know?

    Now to be fair, you were right about at least one thing. Cue confetti. “He said things from the lips of a black conservative that roiled the minds of white ones.” Yes. This is 100% true. Now in your world, it stops there. Yeah, not really good enough. I want to know why. Why can’t pigment challenged people whisper “welfare reform” without being fitted for a hood and sheet by Don Lemon? It couldn’t possibly be because of the neo-McCarthyism that is political correctness could it? Surely I can say that the USSC’s decision on gay marriage really has no basis in the constitution without out drawing out a venomous ire, versus a meaningful discussion, right? You couldn’t possibly be a Saul Alinsky disciple that sees me strictly as an enemy to demonize rather than a human being to engage. I thought you and most people that call themselves “adult” left that kind of childish stuff behind sometime before “Facts of Life” ended its run.

    But if it’s true, and you are all of that, then I am forced to go to my corner and use left logic. You’re the racist. Prove it? “Because 9/11 y’all.” THAT IS JUST SOOOOO INSENSITIVE YOU ELITIST SWINE! YOU KNOW NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE TALK LIKE THAT!

    But I’ll let it go this one time. Try not to let it happen again.

    Next, the minutiae.

    Alan Keyes isn’t even close to the same league as Ben Carson.

    “Carson has not been the voice of class and reason for which many undecideds hoped.” HTF would you know? You’re among the decided.

    “The only qualification Ben Carson seems to possess as a legitimate politician …” That’s a compliment. He has gone out of the way to say:
    A. He is no politician and has no desire to be one
    B. He is not anyone’s “partymate”
    His words (more or less) “I’m not really a member of either party. If there was a “Logic” party that’s what I would be.”
    There is an “R” next to his name because that’s the party that most closely aligns with his personal convictions. Convictions that include a degree of gun control supported by mental health professionals.

    I could share more that you likely don’t know about, but I won’t. However I will when you’re done pontificating, file Alinsky’s book and are ready to listen.

    Like

  2. Jennifer Ashrafi October 8, 2015 / 2:31 pm

    I’ll keep this brief.

    You don’t use your real name, but you make an attempt to use mine (It’s A-S-H-R-A-F-I) which means you are a cowardly acquaintance of my sister’s. My surname was not used in this article. You’re not as clever as you think you are. You want to have an adult conversation and really dissect the issues you bring forward? Sign your name and let’s do it.

    You condemn name calling in an argument, yet in your response you use sarcasm, snark, and condescending rhetoric towards Becky the entire time. You also call her a racist for using “y’all” (that’s a southern thing, not a black thing so…) This is better/more mature how exactly?

    The beauty of the 1st amendment is that we can all have our opinions and parade them out into the world. My sister is one of the smartest people I know and I am certain she is one of the most skilled orators of a healthy debate. But a healthy debate is not what you seek here, so I am sure she will choose to not respond.

    Thank you for the support of this website and for keeping your mind open enough to read articles that take a position opposite of yours. It’s the first step towards a world that agrees to disagree. You’re ALMOST there. Keep trying.

    Like

    • Light Blue Collar October 8, 2015 / 6:04 pm

      You don’t use your real name, but you make an attempt to use mine (It’s A-S-H-R-A-F-I) which means you are a cowardly acquaintance of my sister’s.

      No. She knows who I am, and I do, have, and will choose a nickname/handle/screenname. You do have my apologies on the misspelling of your name (yes really).

      You condemn name calling in an argument, yet in your response you use sarcasm, snark, and condescending rhetoric towards Becky the entire time.

      Did I employ at least some of those tones? Yes. I own that. A parroting of the original author’s work. If it was too much, then yes, again, I apologize (and again yes really). Did I do it the entire time? No. Does my tone mean my fact-based points are somehow diminished? No. I didn’t resort to cheap shots.

      You also call her a racist for using “y’all” (that’s a southern thing, not a black thing so…) This is better/more mature how exactly?

      Wait wait wait…you mean someone took something the author wrote (a soundbite if you will) out of context, and then nuanced it in order to somehow denigrate or besmirch her character? Hmmm…

      “…I am sure she will choose to not respond.”

      That much we agree on. She has a history of dishing it out, but opposition equates to closure in her mind. Certain death versus constructive dialogue.

      In the future, I encourage you to sit, exhale, and just listen to Dr. Carson. Not soundbites, not through an MSNBC filter. Just listen. I thought Sanders was the leading candidate of the entire race until I just listened. If you don’t, you have an agenda. If you do, (regardless of how much or little you disagree with some of his stances) you have a mind.

      Like

  3. Diane Bushemi October 8, 2015 / 4:36 pm

    I have one sentence in response: “Pompeii victims should have outrun lava.”

    Like

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