It is fitting that Black History Month had an extra day this year, given it is a leap year, especially in relation to this year’s presidential election and more specifically in relation to Dr. Ben Carson’s race for the GOP nomination.
SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 29, 2016 – It is fitting that Black History Month had an extra day this year, given it is a leap year, especially in relation to this year’s presidential election and more specifically in relation to Dr. Ben Carson’s race for the GOP nomination. The good doctor has touched on the issues of how race has played a part in his struggle to get the GOP approval to run for president in this year’s circus extravaganza.
It is amazing in this “post-Obama era” that Ben Carson is the only black candidate running for either party; yet the issue of race rarely surfaces, except for recent accusations made against Donald Trump for allegedly not disavowing the endorsement of David Duke, leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and Trump has claimed he has.
Prior to this diversion, the issue of race had exploded all over the mainstream media after Carson made a comment that “Obama was raised white,” not long after the Nevada GOP Republicans decided they trusted Donald Trump to run for president against the Democrats’ choice. The day of the Nevada caucus, Glenn Thrush, chief political correspondent and senior staff writer for Politico, aired a podcast interview with Carson that seemed to be an extraneous “gotcha” effort to get the good doctor to comment about race. Carson’s words went viral as he said that Obama’s upbringing and his were “night-and-day different.”
In that interview, it seemed apparent that Thrush had trouble formulating the exact gotcha question, but when prompted about Obama becoming the first black president, Carson explained: “Like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but I also recognize that his experience and my experience are night-and-day different. He didn’t grow up like I grew up by any stretch of the imagination.”
Thrush pushed the issue. “He’s an ‘African’ American as opposed to an African American.”
Carson elaborated, “He’s an ‘African’ American. He was, you know, raised white. Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.”
Later that day, CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “CNN Newsroom” interviewed Ben Carson and asked the good doctor about that particular comment. Carson suggested that Barack Obama’s upbringing did not reflect the experiences of many other African-Americans:
“I grew up in Detroit, and I grew up in Boston. In Boston, we lived in the ghetto. There were a lot of violent episodes there. There were rats, there were roaches. It was dire poverty.…Let me contrast that to the president, who went to private schools, grew up in a relatively affluent environment, had an opportunity to live in multiple cultures and different countries. I think that’s a very different experience.”
When Washington Post writer Janell Ross posted her column on the same day, her title was, “Why Ben Carson’s statement that Obama was ‘raised white’ is so utterly confounding.”
While Carson has praised his mother for being willing to go to work round-the-clock and decline welfare assistance, this is certainly unique and confounding to the current situation today in America for a great percentage of the black population. The hope was that Obama’s election was intended to liberate the blacks from the inner city and the dependency upon government. That has not happened; in fact, the opposite has happened. Under Democratic policies on the national and state levels, poverty seems the norm, and food stamps the staple.
The main difference here is not color of skin, but content of character. People who want true freedom will work for it or fight for it. People who are complacent and willing to accept the “free stuff” without question of where it came from or its true costs are two different types of people.
The black experience in America was one of great tragedy throughout the colonial experience under Great Britain and even under the formative years of the United States. Even after the abolition of slavery, the autocracy in the Deep South kept the blacks in a state of poverty and dependency. It was exposed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the American civil rights movement.
There are some serious historical parallels between Ben Carson’s struggle for recognition in the GOP and the black struggle for freedom in U.S. history on the larger scale. As King was a central personage during the turbulent 1960s and shed light on injustice in America in his time, Frederick Douglass shed the light of truth upon the evils of slavery in his day. And while President Obama shares a “blackness” with the two greater men, he should not be judged by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.
By the same token, Carson should be judged by the content of his character.
The larger issue is not whether Barack Obama’s experience was similar to Ben Carson’s. It has much more to do with Obama not coming upon the foundation of Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King Jr. Frederick Douglass and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated their support of the bedrock values and principles of the United States. On the other end of the spectrum, Mr. Obama, despite being considered a constitutional “scholar,” seems to have studied the law of the land for the sake of his and his political party’s intent to destroy the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
He should be judged by genuine support of the bedrock principles embedded in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Such support is the true measuring stick.
While Barack Hussein Obama made history by becoming the first black president, he has not hesitated to use race as a shield or a weapon when opposition rose against his policies. Despite whether he would own up to that or not, it seems that he is intelligent enough to realize that many oppose him not because of the color of his skin, but because of the content of his character and the nature of his policies against the Constitution. To insinuate that those who oppose him are racists may be a clever political device, but the tactic runs directly counter to the core of what Martin Luther King Jr. understood about racism.
The comparisons between King and Obama may not entirely ring true. Even if only the speech at the Lincoln Memorial is used as a measuring stick, Obama’s presidency has distorted and trivialized what King represented.
If one is truly honest, it is Benjamin Solomon Carson and his character that are more in alignment with the two great men, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr.
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