Let’s imagine that you know a guy who clearly is intelligent and who clearly is a good, thoughtful person when you’re interacting face-to-face…
But he says things that challenge your worldview.
How do you wrap your mind around this man’s great, likable qualities–when his political views are sooooo bad?
Well, if you’re a young liberal, you might start by saying really nice things about him at first…and THEN wrap those compliments inside a disguised insult, because, Lord knows, a black man like Ben Carson must be very confused.
A very distant acquaintance wrote this for social media recently:
If it’s too small to read, it starts off:
“I owe my life to two black men. One of them is Dr. Ben Carson, who was my pediatric neurosurgeon…
Dr. Carson has an amazing story. He is one of the most gentle, patient people you will ever meet, and he has always treated my family with grace and poise.”
And there you have the compliments I was talking about in the first paragraph. Compliments help establish credibility and niceness. They make readers feel less badly about the “but” that comes later…
Then the writer continues:
[But] It is hard for me as an adult to understand Carson’s stance on political issues…”
Thus, the conflict.
Dr. Carson is a talented and gracious man. He’s accomplished and successful, while being kind and compassionate.
He saved her life.
But that one challenging strike against Dr. Carson remains: he doesn’t agree with her about government and politics.
“How is standing against affordable healthcare in line with DO NO HARM? How does keeping Gitmo open encourage peace and welfare for all humanity, when we are torturing other humans? How is stating that gay people are a result of prison rape evidence-based? For someone who has overcome an incredible amount of disadvantage and trauma, I see very little self-awareness [in Dr. Carson]…”
Now at this point in the commentary, the author is just questioning… She’s genuinely confused that she doesn’t share the same views about government with a man she assumed would be an ally.
It doesn’t bother me when a social justice spokesperson wrestles with these questions, because I imagine it would be hard to fathom a smart, black man who doesn’t believe (as all of her peers do) that government money is a great solution for inner-city issues…
But, I DO have a problem if you explain away Dr. Carson’s beliefs, by suggesting he is blinded by the “White Culture” into which he “escaped”:
“Dr. Carson has some strong opinions about young black males and black-on-black violence. He cites the need for moral education and instilling values. I don’t really know what to say when I see a black hero talk like this to a community so devastated by decades of community and generational oppression and daily microaggressions.
…Dr. C–I know you escaped into (very) upper-class White culture, and I’m afraid that your experience is being exploited by those with more privilege than you…”
In the original Facebook post, that last statement (I put in bold) was pretty well buried by the rest of the paragraph. But it’s the important part of this speech because it’s exactly what black conservatives like Dr. Carson are tired of hearing.
I’m sure he would notice (and appreciate the irony) when white people can’t accept that he really believes what he claims to believe…because he doesn’t sound enough like their other black friends.
Maybe Dr. Carson would even be amused by the way she works through the conflict in her mind.
She reasons he must have been sidetracked by his (very) wealthy neighbors….or…
Maybe he’s being “exploited!” (Yes, that sounds better, doesn’t it? Let’s assume he means well. But he’s just being overpowered by the truly bad guys.)
In other words, she reasons, Dr. Carson is a victim of oppression, just like all black people.
For liberals, black victimhood is unquestionable. Black people just ARE exploited daily in this country. Period. Thus, the writer concludes (regardless of what Dr. Carson himself says) that he must be the victim of exploitation, too…and he just doesn’t realize it.
And that, dear reader, is how a liberal sleeps at night, knowing a brilliant, articulate, successful black man disagrees with almost every one of her sacred beliefs about social justice.
It’s perfect, because they still get to feel nice and talk about how thankful they are for Dr. Carson’s practice.
But they still end up discrediting him with the same, narrow stereotypes as those who call Carson an “Uncle Tom” or “Race-Traitor.” The assumptions are the same: black conservatives have lived in White Land for so long that they don’t represent the black community anymore.
And, I can tell you from personal experience, no one likes being told they don’t act enough like the minority group they represent.
Are you an educated woman who doesn’t identify as a Feminist?
You’re brainwashed. You’re either a helpless doormat by choice because you like seeing women mistreated, or you’re being exploited so badly you don’t even realize how much of a victim you are.
Are you a brilliant neurosurgeon who believes Obamacare is bad for the country?
You’re being exploited. You either like the wealth and power you’ve found in Whitesville so much that you’re throwing the black community under the bus OR you’re not smart enough to understand how much your political beliefs are hurting the black people whose perspective on race really matters.
It’s no fun having your opinion explained away, just because you don’t sound the way a woman or black man is supposed to sound.
No matter how clearly you explain your views, or how obviously NOT oppressed you are, there are people who will believe theories about “microaggressions” more firmly than they believe their own experience with you as a smart, caring person.
And those people would rather view Dr. Carson as an “exploited” puppet than to doubt their own beliefs that government can and will solve the issues in the black community.
It’s a shame, because Dr. Carson is a good enough communicator to answer all of those sincere “how” and “why” questions.
If you listen, instead of coming up with reasons to dismiss him, he’ll explain why so-called “affordable healthcare” may have unforeseen consequences:
“Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery….And it is [slavery] in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”
If you’d listen, Dr. Carson would explain why he talks so much about personal responsibility:
“It doesn’t matter if you come from the inner city. People who fail in life are people who find lots of excuses. It’s never too late for a person to recognize that they have potential in themselves.”
I would like people to recognize in looking at my story that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you. It’s not the environment, it’s not the other people who were there trying to help you or trying to stop you. It’s what you decide to do and how much effort you put behind it.”
If you listen, you’ll hear someone deeply concerned for the black community:
“What I feel, instead of people pointing fingers at each other and just creating strife, what we need to be talking about is how do we solve the problem in the black community of murder…For a young black male, in the inner city, homicide is the most likely cause of death. That’s ridiculous.
Most of those occur at the hands of other young black males. We need to be talking about, ‘Why is that occurring?’ We need to be talking about, ‘How do we instill values into people again?’ And those are family and faith.”
I’m not saying you have to agree with every word he says.
But young liberals who like him as a person really need to do a better job trying to understand his position, instead of lazily writing him off as “exploited.”
Because, frankly, that’s insulting.
When the kind, compassionate, successful brain surgeon starts disagreeing with your Strategy for changing the world, a wise person would at least consider that maybe your strategy isn’t that wonderful.
Maybe it’s not some invisible, scary White Privilege that makes dear, sweet Dr. Carson think all those crazy, not-very-black-man things.