Introduced by Senator Jeff Sessions, Dr. Benjamin Carson spoke on Thursday this week at the National Prayer Breakfast to an audience that included President and Mrs. Obama up on the dais. Dr. Carson is a pediatric neurosurgeon who has lived a life of incredible accomplishment defying seemingly impossible odds. Watching the video, however, I couldn’t help but wonder if Dr. Carson might not have a greater contribution to make outside the field of medicine. The Wall Street Journal, for one, declares rather forcefully that he does.
Watching the video, I also couldn’t help but wonder what Obama was thinking. My guess is he was thinking: this is a dangerous guy. At a key point in Dr. Carson’s speech, Obama appears to check his Blackberry — just so you might not think he was overly impressed. Speaking truth to glower! (Here are seven more reasons to be impressed.)
Elizabeth Scalia usefully summarizes Dr. Carson’s remarks as follow:
After quoting [P]roverbs, he says some bold things, dares to criticize the repressive habit of self-censorship we have fallen into thanks to political correctness. “PC is dangerous,” he says, “it muffles people. It puts a muzzle on them and at the same time keeps people from discussing important issues while the fabric of this society is being changed…we need to start talking about things…”
He talks about coming up from poverty: he is the son of a poor, illiterate mother (herself one of 24 children) who was himself a “bad student” — [referring to a point she makes earlier in her post] the sort of kid California might decide needn’t be expected to learn Algebra. He talks about the need to disenthrall ourselves from ideological fervor so intractable that it would rather the wrong thing than the right, if it means a “win” for “the party.”
He says it all right in the face of the people who really need to hear it, but we all do. Do yourself a favor and watch. Benjamin Car[son] is a man of science and a man of faith; he puts the lie to the inane idea that the two are mutually exclusive, and suggests that balance is still possible.
Ms. Scalia omits Dr. Carson’s thoughts on health care reform from her summary (“there’s nobody talking about death panels”), which are also noteworthy. In any event, as Ms. Scalia says, the man has a message we all need to hear.
UPDATE: Dr. Robert Hartzler writes to add: “Ben Carson’s book Gifted Hands is worth noting in Scott’s post on his speech. I read it when I was about 10 years old and it inspired me to become a surgeon. He has a great life.” The film version starring Cuba Gooding is also available on DVD.