For many Black children born in the 1980s, Ben Carson is a hero. He is, as BuzzFeed’s Joel Anderson describes in a well-done profile about the surgeon-turned-GOP-presidential-contender, “an icon of Black triumph.” Carson was never this to me, but his allure amongst the community as a collective is undeniable. That allure, though, has since been tainted by his politics, and to be more specific, his new celebrity — largely owed to exhibiting a caricature-like behavior of Black conservatives.
Carson has compared the country to Nazi Germany over the Affordable Health Care Act, which he has notoriously likened to slavery. Anyone who says this is comically hyperbolic and under no circumstances should be taken seriously. Yet, Carson is among many conservatives mostly because he is a Black face to white, patriarchal views. He is propped up because he says awful things about marginalized groups like Blacks, women, and gays.
This week served as another example of this, as Carson argued that the proof of homosexuality being a choice lies within the prison system. In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, the subject of marriage equality came up and so did Carson’s condemnation of gay people. To Carson, in no way are the struggles of Black people comparable to the struggle of gays.
So it goes:
Chris Cuomo: “You think being gay is a choice?”
Ben Carson: “Absolutely”
Chris Cuomo: “Why do you say that?”
Ben Carson: “Because, a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight and when they come out, they’re gay, so did something happen while they were in there?”
This is an idiotic way of viewing human sexuality. Men and women in forced situations acting out their sexuality in the limited options afforded to them is not proof of anyone being gay or straight or somewhere in between. What it does highlight is that sexuality is complicated. Being gay is about having predominate sexual attraction to a member of the same-sex. Being straight is the opposite. Carson must’ve ignored the sex ed classes he took decades ago, but used his HBO Go to watch lots of Oz.
As a neurosurgeon, Ben Carson is a man of science, but in this exchange he sounds like an uncle who has downed a pint of Wild Turkey and suddenly wants to make half the family uncomfortable with his dim views of the world.
The American Psychological Association ruled that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern reveals further scientific studies that point to homosexuality being an inborn trait.
If there’s anything pointing to choice over here, it’s Carson going above and beyond to be purposefully obtuse. Grow up, sir. You sound sillier than usual.
Indeed, Carson has a history of making disparaging remarks about gay people, comparing them to murderers, pedophiles, and those who partake in bestiality. He does this under the pretense of being a religious figure, though it will forever be amusing to me that Black people use distorted interpretations of scripture to justify bigotry given that same scheme was once applied to them.
The very God Carson pretends to speak in support of would not condemn people this way (unless he is going by Old Testament deity, which likely would’ve had him stoned to death over a Maryland-style crab boil long ago) and the white conservatives he panders to won’t get him far in the 2016 presidential primary. Then again, Carson likely knows this. The GOP presidential field has become more or less the American Idol of the conservative media complex.
These “candidates” go out of their way to say the most outlandish things possible, make a little noise along the way, only to lose the primary but win a contract at FOX News; some big conservative talk radio station; a red-leaning web site; some combination of the three.
It’s a proven blueprint for success, but the question remains: How much is one willing to lower themselves for the sake of stardom? We’ll know this time next year. Even so, one thing is clear: Ben Carson already had a legacy for saving lives, but decided to throw it all away for…cheap headlines and subsequent media appearances.
That’s not what you expect to see from “an icon of Black triumph,” but it’s certainly what you’d expect from your common and utterly clueless media whore.