A Brief Open Letter to Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson

(Originally published March 2013 in response to the fallout from his infamous National Prayer breakfast speech):

Dear Dr. Carson,

As a moderate progressive, I disagree with much of your social and political perspective, but your personal story and prodigious achievements in medicine are nonetheless inspiring. I agree that everyone would do well to foster productive discussion without venturing into disparaging and accusatory rhetoric. That said, I do believe your public comments on marriage, while not intentionally hurtful, probably lent themselves to an understandable perception of offense. While I see nothing particularly offensive about your fundamental point (marriage should not be redefined arbitrarily to suit every kind of relationship), the mere inclusion of NAMBLA and zoophiliacs in the same thought borders on the incendiary. Indeed, a popular view of the white racist opposed to interracial marriage is precisely that such marriage is tantamount to bestiality.

Moreover, I get the sense that much of your support among conservatives is predicated more so on your opposition to the President than anything else. Inasmuch as moderate black conservatives like General Powell and Condoleeza Rice are routinely shown disdain by others in their party for expressing the least bit of support for our President, my hunch is that your support within the conservative movement will continue to grow with every new idea or stance coming from you that could be reasonably interpreted as an explicit repudiation of the President. I am sure you are well-aware of this. In the interest of maintaining productive discussion, I sincerely hope you do not fall into the trap of an Allen West or Herman Cain where you feel you must insult blacks (i.e. referring to them as brainwashed, slaves on the Democrat plantation, etc.) and other groups in order to accord with the more regressive fringe wing of the conservative party. Radical views on both sides need to be confronted and denounced swiftly and severely. Indeed, I have had my share of tongue-lashings from liberals with whom I took no reservations in calling to account due to the nature of their rhetoric.

I trust that as you become more outspoken in the conservative movement, you will not allow yourself to be swayed either by the contingent support on your side, or irrational opposition on the other. I’d suspect that a man of your intellect and integrity would be just as willing to risk a loss of some of your support in the interest of confronting misinformation and negative rhetoric coming from some in your own party as you would be willing to continue enjoying increasing gains in support whenever your ideas happen to be in harmony with the party line.

In any case, differences in social and political perspectives notwithstanding, you continue to command my utmost respect and admiration as a man.

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