By Comparing Obamacare to Slavery, Dr. Ben Carson Has Become a Jim Crow Caricature

By Comparing Obamacare to Slavery, Dr. Ben Carson Has Become a Jim Crow Caricature

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Dr. Ben Carson “Jumps Jim Crow”

By  Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III

“You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery…it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”                                                                                                                         Dr. Ben Carson October 11, 2013

Dr. Ben Carson is a world renowned American neurosurgeon. He is a brilliant physician with an incredibly compelling and motivational story. Born into poverty in Detroit in 1951 and raised by a single mother with a third-grade education, Carson became the first surgeon to separate conjoined twins and the youngest to head a surgical department. His focus, work ethic and commitment to excellence should be emulated by as many as possible.

Over the past year Dr. Carson has emerged on the political scene as a spokesperson for conservative interests.  Most recently he addressed the 2013 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., making the remarks referenced above.

“Obamacare” or more accurately the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the worst thing in this nation since slavery?  Really?  I understand political diatribes and hyperbole but the worst thing in America since slavery?  How can reducing the number of uninsured Americans through an expansion of Medicaid and the creation of new health insurance exchange marketplaces be worse than slavery?

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in America except as punishment for a crime in 1865. Since then, African Americans have been lynched, had their farms confiscated, been denied the right to vote and have had limited or no access to public and private facilities. For an African American of Dr. Carson’s intellect and stature to publically make such assertions is historically inaccurate, irresponsible and promotes many of the racist stereotypes that are being used to garner support to overturn the law.

Does Dr. Carson really believe that the ACA is worse than the Tuskegee syphilis experiment of 1932?  This infamous clinical study was conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service on 399 African American men from 1932 to 1972 to trace the natural progression of untreated syphilis.  These human “laboratory animals” thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government.  By the end of the experiment, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were d**d of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis.

Would Dr. Carson have us believe that the ACA is worse than the government sanctioned, racially motivated attack on the Greenwood district of TulsaOklahoma in 1921?  The Greenwood district of Tulsa, also know as Black Wall Street, was the wealthiest African American community in America. During a 16 hour period from May 31 and June 1, 1921 whites rioted, attacked the community and b****d it to the ground based upon the rumor that an African American shoeshiner named d**k Roland touched a white female elevator operator named Sarah Page.

An estimated 10,000 African American residents were left homeless and 35 city blocks composed of 1,256 residences were destroyed by fire. The official d***h count by the Oklahoma Department of Vital Statistics was 39, but other estimates of African American fatalities have been up to about 300.

From 1920 – 1970 the state of North Carolina forcibly sterilized more than 7,600 women.  Most of these women were poor and African American.  This eugenics program began as a means to control the birth rates of poor white woman and quickly expanded as an attack on African American woman. Woman were being sterilized like cats and dogs are spayed and neutered. Dr. Carson wants us to believe that the ACA is worse than this?

As Carson is being promoted in conservative political circles as an informed spokesman on the talk circuit he has quickly become a political minstrel show.  He’s jumping Jim Crow. Jump Jim Crow is a song and dance that was performed in blackface by a white comedian named Thomas Dartmouth around 1830, the early minstrel era of American entertainment.  It made a mockery of African Americans; lampooning them as dim-witted, lazy, and buffoonish.  The expression to Jump Jim Crow came to mean “to act like a stereotyped stage caricature of a black person” usually by a white person.

Dr. Carson has once again put his black face on political ideology that is contrary to the interests of the African American community and validates denigrating stereotypes perpetuated by its enemies. Earlier this year Carson told a CPAC audience that “Nobody is starving on the streets (of America). We have always taken care of them. We have churches which actually are much better mechanisms for taking care of the poor because they are right there with them. This is one of the reasons we give tax breaks to churches…”

He is lending his voice and using his personal narrative to validate the conservative “blame the poor” political agenda and undermine the social safety net in America.

. The argument is that the Carson’s of the world have overachieved in spite of the odds; therefore, the inability of the poor (stereotypically the “Black poor”) in America to rise into the middle class or beyond is due to personal failure, lack of drive, initiative, and dependence upon the government. Carson made it; why can’t they?

The ACA is far from perfect.  The flaws in the legislation will be flushed out and addressed over time or it will die a natural d***h.  How the Obama administration allowed the government web site to go live without beta testing, anticipating the problems and without immediate fixes for them is at least irresponsible.  These issues should not invalidate the reality that providing access to health care coverage for more Americans is a good thing.

As a physician Dr. Ben Carson should know better.  If he has problems with the ACA he should present his issues using accurate data and facts; not baseless political ideology and foolish hyperbole.

Dr Carson’s stature in the medical community makes his comments even more reckless. Even reasonable but uninformed people might try to find truth in his words. He is allowing the reputation that he has earned based upon his stellar professional accomplishments, focus, work ethic, and commitment to excellence as a surgeon to be used as a front by white ultra-conservatives. He is attempting to undermine greater access to health care and other social programs; the social safety net that is needed now more than ever before.

He’s a pitiful one-man minstrel show.  He’s Jumpin’ Jim Crow.

Dr. Wilmer Leon, an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice,  is the Producer/ Host of the Sirisu/XM Satellite radio channel 110 call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon” Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email:wjl3us@yahoo.comwww.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com  © 2013 InfoWave Communications, LLC

Dr. Ben Carson, Great Surgeon but a Bad Icon for the Political Collective l Dr. Wilmer Leon

Dr. Wilmer Leon: Dr. Ben Carson, Great Surgeon but a Bad Icon for the Political Collective

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by OUR COMMON GROUND VOICE, Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

Black Politics on the Web

 “Nobody is starving on the streets (of America).  We have always taken care of them.  We have churches which actually are much better mechanisms for taking care of the poor because they are right there with them.  This is one of the reasons we give tax breaks to churches…” Dr. Ben Carson – CPAC Speech 2013

In modern culture, an icon is a symbol – i.e. a name, face, picture, or even a person readily recognized as having some well-known significance or embodying certain qualities.  That face or person begins to represent something else of greater significance through literal or figurative meaning. With his speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast and his recent CPAC speech, Carson has become the new Black conservative darling.  He’s a great pediatric surgeon but a terrible icon for the political collective.

Dr. Ben Carson has an incredibly compelling and motivational story.  Born into poverty in Detroit in 1951 and raised by a single mother with a third-grade education, Carson became the first surgeon to separate conjoined twins and the youngest to head a surgical department.  His focus, work ethic, and commitment to excellence should be emulated by as many as possible.

One problem with Dr. Carson and others like him – i.e. Justice Thomas, Michael Steele, Wardell Connerly and Condoleezza Rice is how they have lent their voices and their personal narratives to conservatives in ways that allow them to undermine the social safety net in America.  The argument is that these individuals have overachieved in spite of the odds; therefore, the inability of the poor in America to rise into the middle class or beyond is due to personal failure, lack of drive, initiative, and dependence upon the system. Carson, Rice, and Thomas made it; why can’t you?

Another problem with their “realities” is their failure to recognize and/or admit how they benefitted from “the system” at some point in their struggle.  For example, Wardell Connerly grew his business in part with assistance from the 8(a) Program.  Justice Thomas was a beneficiary of Affirmative Action.  I don’t know if Carson’s mother ever received any public assistance during his childhood but if she did not I am certain some of his neighbors did. Is he ready to cast them all as lazy and totally dependent upon the government?

We love to hear stories about people overcoming great odds to achieve success. What is ignored when reciting the stories of the Carson’s, Thomas’, and Rice’s of the world is depth of the chasm that lied between Africans in America and later the African American community and white America. There have always been personal successes in the midst of the collective or group struggle. During the 18th century while hundreds of thousands and later millions of Africans in America where bound by the shackles of slavery, individuals such as Olaudah Equiano aka “Equiano, the African” and James Forten found success on American shores.  Did the success of Equiano, Forten and others negate the suffering and systemic oppression of those enslaved?  Obviously not.

Today, in spite of all of the disturbing data documenting the disparity between the African American community and Whites, such as eighteen percent unemployment, African Americans being fifty-three percent of those incarcerated and only thirteen percent of the population, the wealth disparity, high school drop-out rates, college graduation rates, home foreclosure rates, etc. the likes of a Wardell Connerly, Shelby Steele, or Clarence Thomas stand before conservatives and argue that we no longer need Affirmative Action, Head Start, and other social programs.

Individual success should never become the standard of measure of success for the collective. It is only through group success that the African American community will truly become politically and economically empowered.

Dr. Ben Carson made some very inaccurate and dangerous statements during his CPAC speech that cannot go unchallenged.  He stated as referenced above, “Nobody is starving on the streets (of America)”.  According to Bread for the World, “14.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table. More than 48 million Americans—including 16.2 million children—live in these households…Among African-Americans and Latinos, nearly one in three children is at risk of hunger.”  Has he forgotten that in 1951 he may have been one of those hungry children?

He also stated, “Many people don’t know this but socialism started as a reaction to America because people in Europe, they looked at us and said, “”wait a minute look at those Americans…people like Henry Ford, Kellogg, Vanderbilt…they’ve got so much money…”” it needs to be redistributed.”  Actually, the term socialism is attributed to Pierre Leroux and Robert Owen around 1827.  Henry Ford was not born until 1863.  Socialist models and ideas espousing common or public ownership have existed since antiquity. Karl Marx, considered by many to be the founder of modern socialism first published Das Kapital in 1847.  Henry Ford was 4 years old.  Socialism was actually a reaction to the Industrial Revolution which started in Britain around 1760.

Carson said, “People don’t want to talk about God…let’s let everybody believe what they want to believe.”  Actually, the basis of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment is the freedom to believe.  It is one of the few absolute protections that the Constitution provides.  There is a big difference between belief and practice. If Carson understood the Constitution he would know that.

Dr. Ben Carson has a very motivational story but his political analysis and message lack real understanding of the issues necessary to be taken seriously.  It is dangerous to use the success of an individual(s) as the basis of a sociological or economic indictment of an entire class of individuals.  A reporter once asked Dr. Carson why he never talked about race to which he responded, “…because I’m a neurosurgeon”.  Well, Dr. Carson, I’ll make a deal with you, I’ll stay out of the operating room if you leave the political analysis and dialogue to trained professionals.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon,” and a Lecturer  in the Department of Political Science at HowardUniversity in Washington, D.C.  Go to http://www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.comwww.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com

© 2013 InfoWave Communications, LLC

Black Politics on the Web

“Inside the Issues With Wilmer Leon” Political Scientist Wilmer J. Leon, lll, Ph.D. is a Political Commentator, Nationally Syndicated Columnist with the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) and the Host of the nationally broadcast three-hour call-in talk radio program Inside The Issues with Wilmer Leon” airing live nationally every Saturday at 11am est. on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio channel 128 “The Power.” The show rebroadcasts on Sundays at noon. A Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, Dr. Leon writes and delivers commentary for a variety of national media outlets including Root.com, TheGrio.com, TruthOut.org, CNN, NPR.org, MSNBC, The Maynard Institute.com,Politicsincolor.com and many others. Dr. Leon’s primary areas of expertise are Black Politics and Public Policy. He has a BS degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.

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