By Mark Cohen –
The neurosurgeon who became the first to separate conjoined twins (joined at the back of the head), is a genius. Not necessarily because of his vast medical knowledge, but thanks to his uncanny ability to speak about the issues of the day. Dr. Benjamin Carson, 61, Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery and Pediatrics at John Hopkins University, spoke as the keynote at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast on February 9. The topics at this yearly event, for the most part cover religion, but Dr. Carson touched on politics, a tricky subject, because the President of the United States sat close by with the First Lady. However, Dr. Carson approached the subject with care and dignity.
Dr. Benjamin Carson speaking at the prayer breakfast.
Past keynotes included Mother Theresa, American politicians of both major parties, and various Prime Ministers (including Tony Blair of England). When they touched on politics they spoke in vague generalities about peace, love, and standing with those left behind. Dr. Carson used specifics, however. Using his usual, quiet tone, Dr. Carson quoted four bible verses. Then he illustrated the problems with the dangerous, politically correct (PC) police. On some TV shows since he has called them “bullies” and vowed to stand up against them. “People are afraid to say Merry Christmas at Christmas time… That’s a salutation, a greeting of goodwill. We’ve got to get over this sensitivity…it keeps people from saying what they really believe.” He stressed the importance of communication, and the value of respect for those “with whom we disagree.”
In his own words, “My mother got married when she was 13. She was one of 24 children. Had a horrible life. Discovered that her husband was a bigamist, had another family. And she only had a third grade education. She had to take care of us. Dire poverty. I had a horrible temper, poor self-esteem. All the things that you think would preclude success. But I had something very important, I had a mother who believed in me, and I had a mother who would never allow herself to be a victim no matter what happened. Never made excuses, and she never accepted an excuse from us. And if we ever came up with an excuse, she always said do you have a brain? And if the answer was, “yes,” then she said then you could have thought your way out of it. It doesn’t matter what John or Susan or Mary, or anybody else did or said. And it was the most important thing she did for my brother and myself. Because if you don’t accept excuse, pretty soon people stop giving them, and they start looking for solutions. And that is a critical issue when it comes to success.” How can anyone not embrace this peaceful and thoughtful man? He dislikes stereotypes and political ideologues, and denigrating one’s opponent, saying, “What we need to start thinking about is, ‘how do we solve problems?’” How can anyone argue with that?
Dr. Carson wants America to “have good health care for everybody.” But he proposed that “when a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record and a health savings account (HSA), to which money can be contributed, pre-tax from the time you are born, to the time you die. When you die, you can pass it on to your family members so that when you’re 85 years old and you’ve got 6 diseases, you’re not trying to spend up everything. You’re happy to pass it on and nobody is talking about death panels.” What a terrific idea, but I wonder what President and Mrs. Obama thought?
Dr. Carson is a vigorous proponent of education, but he denounced the national debt. “$16.5 trillion – you think that’s not a lot of money? I’ll tell you what, count one number per second …one number per second. You know how long it would take you to count to 16 trillion? 507,000 years – more than a half a million years to get there. We have to deal with this.” He’s for a much simpler tax code. Dr. Carson used the tithe as an example. He said that, and he doesn’t propose 10%, that if a man makes $10, he may give $1. If a man makes $10 billion, he puts in $1 billion, the same ratio. God didn’t say, he reasoned, that “if your crops fail, don’t give me any tithes. He didn’t say, if you have a bumper crop, give me triple tithes. So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality.” I think that by quoting God and saying that the media tries “to define what you’re supposed to think,” he can’t be elected to public office, but he will make a fine cabinet member someday, perhaps Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Reaction to Dr. Carson’s speech at the prayer breakfast was mixed, of course. Some thought he owed President Obama an apology. Those who can’t stand any criticism of President Obama (and even some on the right) called his speech disrespectful. I tried to find any nasty attacks on Dr. Carson on the web, but there are few, if any, out there. Many on the left compare him to conservatives who have been ridiculed by the mainstream media and say they never heard of him, but they cannot or will not criticize his message. Conservatives, for the most part, hailed him as the best, possibly the only one of late, who has articulated their message with such crispness and clarity. They used a phrase of the left, popular during George W. Bush’s presidency, saying that Carson “spoke truth to power.” Responding to criticism from the left, Dr. Carson, with a calm voice asked, “When did this become a monarchy?” and, “The President works for us.” Like me, last year’s National Prayer breakfast speaker, author Eric Metaxas, who posed with a picture of President Obama, taken by VP Joe Biden at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast, also praised Dr. Carson for his talk.