It didn’t take long for the claws to come out. Once it became clear that retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson was running for president, liberal writers in the media knew what they had to do. Washington Post writer Robert Samuels took the lead, punching up a story with the headline: “Many Blacks See a Hero’s Legacy Fade.” By Samuels’ account, Carson is quickly burning through the goodwill he built over decades in the black community.
“For many African Americans who grew up seeing Carson as the embodiment of black achievement – a poor inner-city boy who became one of the world’s most accomplished neurosurgeons – his emergence as a conservative hero and unabashed critic of the United States’ first black president has been jarring.”
It’s telling that Samuels should phrase his statement in this way; it says more than he would probably admit about the way he sees the world. Barack Obama is not just a Democrat. He’s not just a liberal. He’s not just the president. Above all of those things, he is a successful black man. And the historic precedent of his presidency is the most important thing about him. That’s why Obama’s critics get slammed as racists, and it’s why Carson is betraying his race by joining the chorus.
“There are forces in this country that really like to foster division and conflict, particularly in the black community,” Carson said in an interview. “Because they don’t want the synergy of them working together. Because that would advance them.”
It may not even be as conspiratorial as Carson thinks. This is really how these liberals see America. It’s how they see the human condition. They insist that you believe all the right things for your category, and they vigorously police any departures from the narrative. When confronted with a Carson or a Condoleezza or a Tim Scott, they rush to condemn these anomalies with everything in their arsenal.
Liberals like it when reality happens to match their preconceived notions. When the GOP field is as white as the driven snow, their world makes sense. They can rest easy, knowing that conservative arguments amount to nothing more than thinly-veiled racism. When there are black Republicans involved, though, they can’t fall back on that simple narrative. They have to either finally start listening to the ideas being proffered or they have to discredit the speaker as a race traitor. So guess which one they choose?
As the Republican primary field grows to become one of the most diverse ever, these pundits may be forced to admit that they had it all wrong. Because conservatism isn’t just for whites, straight people, and men. Its principles stand on their own and they appeal to anyone who understands the power that lies within themselves. Not everyone is a genius, but everyone has the potential to make their lives extraordinary. That’s a message that defies petty categorization. Unfortunately, the very Americans who need to hear it are the ones who seldom do.
Hopefully, Dr. Carson can change that.