I think Dr. Ben Carson, the world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who is President Trump’s African-American secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is an admirable role model for how race relations should be approached in the U.S. because, as Dr. Martin Luther King once said, people should be judged on the content of their character, and not on the color of their skin.
First, full disclosure: I’ve been color blind ever since I tried to integrate my fraternity at the University of Washington in Seattle in the 1950s, and 10 years later when I was the spokesman for Gov. Grant Sawyer’s bold (at that time) policy to end racial discrimination in Nevada casinos. Prior to the 1960s Nevada was known as “the Mississippi of the West,” and that wasn’t a compliment.
I thought about Carson and his incredible life story as I read an article about him by journalist Rob Crilly in the Washington Examiner magazine. Crilly wrote that “for Carson, overcoming the challenges of poverty and limited opportunity can often involve the sort of discipline instilled in him by his mother, who was one of 24 children and only managed a third grade education.” Think about that.
Carson overcame the challenges of poverty by following his mother’s wise advice. She required Carson and his brother to watch less television and read two library books a week. “She came from just the worst circumstances and had a horrible life,” Carson told Crilly, “but she refused to let us see ourselves as victims. Our skin color was never going to be a reason to feel like a victim.”
Now, contrast Mrs. Carson’s wise and effective approach to racism with that of the “reverends” Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who turn everything into a battle between black and white Americans. For those career race-baiters, anything and everything depends on skin color. If you’re black you’re a “victim” by definition, but you’re enjoying “white privilege” if you’re white. Since I’m an elderly white male (can’t deny it), like most of our allegedly “racist” Founding Fathers, I must have been enjoying white privilege when I was washing dishes at a college sorority house, or when I lived, literally, in a shack by the railroad tracks with the only black officer in my Air Force squadron at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
I resent the idea that we have to think or vote a certain way because of the color of our skin. “Progressives” and socialists tell us that “downtrodden” minorities must vote for Democrats and “privileged” white people must vote Republican. What a bunch of malarkey, as Joe Biden might say. People should think for themselves when deciding who to vote for. Period.
Ten years ago I hoped that Barack Obama, our first black president, would help to bridge the racial divide in our country, but I was deeply disappointed when he and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, fanned the flames of racial division by catering to professional race baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who hung out at the White House, and by supporting Black Lives Matter, which demonizes white people and police officers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.
“The person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you,” Carson says. “Unfortunately... we have a lot of voices trying to convince people that somebody else controls their life, and that somebody else can solve their problems. ...You can allow them (somebody else) to be the excuse for your failure, or you can let them be the hurdle that strengthens you.” Amen!
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.