What does someone’s skin color have to do with who he or she is? “Not a whole lot,” Dr. Ben Carson says.
Carson, a renowned brain surgeon, experienced racism as a child and even early on in his celebrated medical career.
But Carson says he never has considered the color of someone’s skin to be a defining factor of who they are.
“As a brain surgeon, obviously, when I open somebody’s head, I’m operating on a thing that makes them who they are,” Carson says. “It’s not their hair or their skin that makes them who they are. It’s their brain that makes them who they are. … So obviously, I’m not going to sit around and blame somebody for something that their forefathers did to my forefather.”
Carson, the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Trump administration, is the author of the new book “Created Equal: The Painful Past, Confusing Present, and Hopeful Future of Race in America.”
Carson joins this episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast” to share a bit of his own story, as well as how America can embrace a future full of hope.
Also on today’s show, we cover these stories:
- Police answer questions about their response time in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting.
- Senate Democrats call for a vote on gun control legislation in the wake of the shooting in Texas.
- Democrats’ domestic terrorism bill fails in the Senate.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: It is my honor today to welcome to the show distinguished neurosurgeon, the former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the founder of the American Cornerstone Institute, Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson, welcome to “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
Ben Carson: Thank you. I’m delighted to be with you. Thanks for having me.
Allen: Congratulations to you on your brand new book “Created Equal: The Painful Past, Confusing Present, and Hopeful Future of Race in America.” It’s already made it onto The New York Times’ bestseller list. Dr. Carson, talk a little bit about what your motivation was and your mission in writing this book.
Carson: Well, I was noticing that, for some strange reason, over the last few years we seem to circle everything back to race, appropriately and inappropriately. And we also are using race as a cajole to sort of beat people into submission, make some people feel guilty, make some people feel like victims. And I wanted to shine a light on what’s really happening.
For instance, just in my lifetime, the racial atmosphere in this country has changed dramatically.
When I was a little kid, a black person came on television in a non-servile role, it was a big deal. You called everybody into the living room and said, “Hey, look at this. This is great.” And now you have black admirals, and generals, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and heads of foundations. We’ve elected a black president twice. We have a black vice president.
I mean, give me a break. To say that things haven’t changed, it’s ridiculous. They’ve changed dramatically. We haven’t reached nirvana, but we’ve made enormous progress. And I think that’s very good.
And we need to start thinking about the good things that we’ve achieved, and let’s build on those. And then the bad things, let’s learn from them. Don’t hide them. Don’t destroy them. Because your history is what gives you your identity, and your identity is what gives you your beliefs.
That’s why, whenever ISIS goes into a place, they destroy the history. They destroy the museums, and the libraries, and all these things. They don’t want people to know who they are.
And we have a proud history as a nation. We’ve done very good things and we’ve helped to stabilize the world. So we don’t need to be ashamed of that, but we’ve had some bad things, too, because we’re inhabited by people, and people are imperfect.
Allen: How did your own story and growing up in America, largely being raised by a single mom, how did that influence how you wrote this book and your decision to write it?
Carson: It influenced it greatly. My mother, if anybody was a victim, it was her. I mean, she came from a huge, rural family in Tennessee, had less than a third grade education, got married at age 13. They moved to Detroit years later. She discovered her husband.
My father was a bigamist. Left her trying to raise two young sons by herself, but with less than a third grade education. But she never accepted excuses. And she never pointed the finger at somebody else, and she wouldn’t let us do it.
And if we made an excuse, the next thing out of her mouth was a poem called “Yourself to Blame.” And right after that came the question, “Do you have a brain?” And if the answer was yes, then you could have thought your way out of it. It doesn’t matter what somebody else did or said.
And growing up like that, both for me and my brother, made a huge difference. And she used to get a lot of criticism, my mother did. Her friends would say, “You can’t make boys stay in the house and read books. They’ll grow up and they’ll hate you.” And I would overhear them and I’d say, “You know, they’re right, Mother.” But it didn’t matter. We still had to do it. And I think she had the last laugh because one son became a brain surgeon, the other became a rocket scientist.
Allen: Absolutely. Well, I love that in this new book, “Created Equal,” you really don’t sugarcoat things. You’re very straightforward. And chapter four of the book is titled “Guilt and Victimhood Surrounding Racism.” Why do you specifically want to speak so directly to the issues of guilt and victimhood?
Carson: Because they have an incredible impact on what happens to us going forward as a nation. The left and those who want to fundamentally change our nation have tried to impose a sense of guilt upon the white population in our country. Why would they want to do that? Because if you feel guilty, then you’re not going to say anything.
So when you start talking about, “Defund the police. Let dangerous criminals roam free. Don’t guard the borders,” a whole host of things, and you’ve got these people who are standing in the corner with their head down, hoping no one calls them a nasty name, it allows you much more freedom to do that.
And then as far as the victimhood is concerned, if you think you’re a victim, you are one, and now you start acting resentful. And instead of spending your time taking advantage of the enormous opportunities that exist, you get involved, and griping. You become an easy person to manipulate. Sort of what Vladimir Lenin called useful idiots. You take people and you make them believe that you’re their savior, and you get them to do all kinds of things for you.
Allen: Yeah. Such a critical conversation to have. And for you personally, I know for you, as a young person, even early on in your career, you did experience some racism, and yet you have really come out through that, walked through that, still as a very patriotic individual. What was kind of that process for you, that wrestle?
Carson: Well, I think a lot of that involves my faith. And I look at the big picture, and I realize that people are people. There are good white people and bad white people, good black people and bad black people. I mean, what does your skin color have to do with who you are? Not a whole lot.
And as a brain surgeon, obviously, when I open somebody’s head, I’m operating on a thing that makes them who they are. It’s not their hair or their skin that makes them who they are. It’s their brain that makes them who they are. And we have to be smart enough to look through all of that.
So obviously, I’m not going to sit around and blame somebody for something that their forefathers did to my forefather. I mean, what the heck does that have to do anything?
Carson: Let’s just recognize that we are here now, we have our spheres of influence, so let’s use them appropriately.
Allen: Use them appropriately. I love that. Thank you, Dr. Carson.
I want to take a few minutes to talk a little bit about your experience in the Trump administration. You served as the secretary for housing and urban development under former President Donald Trump. What do you think the African American community thought of Trump’s policies? Not so much President Trump himself, but his policies, especially now that we’ve experienced policies under the Biden administration. And what do you think that the conservative community can can learn from this?
Carson: One of the interesting things is there were a number of White House rallies with primarily black individuals, and their level of enthusiasm for the president and his policies were through the roof. And that’s why you didn’t see it on most of the mainstream media. They just didn’t want people to see that kind of reaction.
Carson: But I think that’s the reason that you see so many black people running for public office right now on the Republican ticket, recognizing that we really want opportunity. We want a hand up, not a hand out, and we want fairness. We don’t want special treatment. We want fair treatment. And that’s what the Trump administration emphasized, that a rising tide lifts all votes. And it did.
We weren’t looking specifically for this group or this group, but created policies by getting rid of so many onerous regulations, by creating a tax platform that created an atmosphere that encouraged entrepreneurship and innovation. Those are the kinds of things that work. They work extraordinarily well. And people can see now, as you juxtapose that administration to this administration, that it really does make a difference who you put in office.
Allen: Absolutely. I want to take a minute to talk about some of the news that we’re experiencing, some of the most recent events and issues that are facing our country right now. Of course, the whole country is grieving right now with the people of Texas, as well as still with the folks in New York.
Just in the last two weeks, we’ve experienced such tragedy as a nation. Multiple mass shootings. Ten people were killed in the Buffalo shooting in New York by a gunman who appeared to be motivated racially to carry out this cowardice attack. And then just this week, 21 people, including 19 children, were killed in Uvalde, Texas, in the school shooting.
Are there policy solutions to address this kind of hate and senseless violence?
Carson: I’m not sure that that’s a policy issue. That’s a heart issue. And we need to turn the temperature down on some of the hatred and division that’s going on.
If a young child grows up in an atmosphere where there’s a lot of resentment and emphasis of difference of different people, and denigrating of the value of life, then we can expect more of this to happen. We need to be concerned about life from the womb to the tomb. And when we push those things aside, we become much more coarse in our relationships with each other.
So we need to bring back values again. That’s basically what American Cornerstone Institute is about—those cornerstone values that made America into a great nation, our faith, which teaches us how to react with our fellow man, that says, “Love your neighbor.” Not, “Cancel your neighbor.” Just the opposite. That’s full of hatred and evil.
And then a cornerstone of liberty. This is the place that represents liberty for people from all over the world. That’s why people formed caravans trying to get in here. If it was a systemically racist country, why would they do that? And when they got here, wouldn’t they call all their friends and relatives and say, “Don’t come here. This is a horrible place”? That’s not what’s happening at all, and we need to maintain that.
Carson: And then community. Working together, people from different backgrounds, different races. It doesn’t matter. Working together to create an outcome. That’s how we went from nowhere to the pinnacle of the world so quickly. And then life. Our respect for life.
And it makes all the difference in the world in terms of what kind of people we become. We get to determine our future as a nation. Do we want a nation that is built on hatred, division, injustice, or do we want a nation that is built on amazing triumphs? And then, let’s learn from the bad things that happen.
Allen: That’s critical. And I want to talk a little bit more about that conversation of life and furthering a culture of life in just a moment. But I wanted to get your reaction to President Joe Biden’s speech on Tuesday night. The president addressed the nation after the shooting in Texas. What did you think of the president’s remarks?
Carson: Well, that’s what I would kind of expect of someone who’s been a lifetime politician. Rather than emphasizing the terrible tragedy, what’s happened to those families, what’s happened to that whole community, how this is going to impact the lives of those children for the rest of their lives, you turn it into a political thing. And this is not the time.
There’s time to talk about the politics of it. I don’t want to ever suppress that argument. But you don’t do that right after an event like this. The bodies haven’t even been properly buried yet. I mean, that’s ridiculous.
Allen: Yeah, yeah. Well, and Dr. Carson, you bring up that issue of life, and we want to be about, in America, empowering lives and creating a culture of life, and as you say, protecting the unborn as well.
I was recently, kind of in the wake of all of the conversation about Roe v. Wade and Dobbs, there was a large gathering in Washington, D.C., recently that was a pro-abortion gathering, a large march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court. There were thousands of individuals. And I went to cover it as a journalist and take pictures.
And one of the arguments that I heard being made from the stage during the rally was that if you’re against abortion, if you don’t support abortion, then you’re a white supremacist. What’s your response to these kinds of arguments that we’re hearing from pro-abortionists right now?
Carson: Well, I wish people would just take a step back from all this emotional rhetoric, and just use their brain, and look and see what is in that mother’s womb. You’ll see a human being with a head, and a face, with eyes, a nose, and a mouth, and arms, and legs, and fingers, and a heart beating, and it can move, and it can react to the environment. …
And if you’ve ever seen an abortion in the first trimester, the tube is introduced, and you see it on the ultrasound, frequently the baby’s trying to move away from it before it tears off an arm or leg, and you see all the blood and stuff going down a tube. It is barbaric.
But in the second trimester, it’s worse than that. You reach in with forceps, and you just grab and twist and pull. And next thing you know, a shoulder comes out, and an arm, and an intestine. I mean, and you just rip the baby apart. Are you kidding me? How can anybody continence that?
And I don’t know how doctors can do it. And yet we want to talk about ancient civilizations and how barbaric they are. How are we not worse than that? And I think in the future, people will look back on this time and they will just shake their heads and say, “How could those people be like that?”
Carson: But we just have to deal with it. And I think we also have to deal with it with some degree of compassion, recognize that a lot of these young women get themselves in situations, but let’s help them get out of them without killing a baby.
Carson: There are ways to do that. And isn’t it strange that if you kill a woman who’s pregnant, you get two counts of murder, but you can kill the baby with no counts of murder? How does that work?
Allen: Yeah. It’s a great question. How do you think we go about creating a culture of life so that not only our laws protect life, but literally culturally, abortion becomes something that really is unthinkable?
Carson: Well, already, you can see in the young people in our country, they’re becoming much more pro-life, because they’re growing up in a culture where we have the sophisticated technology which shows us what’s in the womb. When you can actually see it, it makes a big difference. That’s why at the abortion clinics, they try to make sure that the women can’t see the ultrasound. They don’t want them to be able to identify with that individual.
But I think we also need to explain to people that, how’s the baby formed. You have the mother’s gamete and the father’s gamete, each of which has 23 chromosomes, and then they meet together. They form a zygote, which has 46 chromosomes. Not 46 of the mother’s. Not 46 of the father’s. You have a completely new and different individual, which begins to develop at an extraordinary rate from that point forward.
Allen: Amazing. Dr. Ben Carson, the author of the new book, already on The New York Times bestseller [list], “Created Equal: The Painful Past, Confusing Present, and Hopeful Future of Race in America.” Dr. Ben Carson, thank you so much for coming on today. It’s been a pleasure to have you.
Carson: Thank you for having me, and thanks for being a patriot.
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