Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Carson The Confused

Here's my latest newspaper column:
You know what they say: running for president isn’t brain surgery. And now a renowned neurosurgeon is demonstrating that getting through medical school must not be, either. (I made it, after all.) But how is it that he, plus every Republican doctor in Congress, manages to be so uninformed about science, and so much else? And yet I’d bet they’ve all prescribed antibiotics. Rote learning gets a bad rap, evidently. 
Ben “Let’s end divisiveness” Carson made his Tea Party bones when he called Affordable Care the worst thing since slavery. Upping his “let’s be nice” ante, he compared homosexuality to bestiality; then, approaching apogee, come-together-wise, diagnosed President Obama as a psychopath, later confirming he meant it literally. Taking tea to the boil, he fears cancelled elections, considers evolution a plot foisted on Charles Darwin by Satan, and calls the big bang a fairly tale. “Political correctness,” his new favorite term, is how he deflects criticism. That’s some mighty fine undivisiveness right there. 
But he was just getting warmed up. Admired for dismissing prejudice as an excuse, Dr. Carson demonstrated what he meant by stating he wouldn’t want a Muslim president. Islam, he says, is inconsistent with the Constitution, and for once, he’s right. Because in America the same applies to all religions, especially the version of Christianity embraced by most Republican contenders, including Carson and Holy Mike Huckabee, who has revealed that God’s law takes precedence over our constitution. Specifically, he preaches ignoring decisions of the Supreme Court when they’re not “right,” where, presumably, “right” is defined by any person’s particular choice of the various interpretations of the various translations of various versions of the Bible. As a Christian it’s your call when the Constitution applies, sermonizes Messianic Mike. That’s about as incompatible as it gets. I assume he’d leave out the “preserve, protect and defend” part of the presidential oath. 
Kindly Doc Carson speaks of respecting the law, declaring Islamic constitutional incompatibility, while ignoring Article Six, which proscribes religious tests for office. But, again, he’s right, if unintentionally. Any religion becomes incompatible with the presidency when it’s pumped from the heart to the body politic. When Carson proposes replacing the tax code with the Bible, there’s a compatibility problem. When he claims this is a “Judeo-Christian nation,” there’s a compatibility problem even though most of his party followers agree with him. Even Saint Ronnie understood the wrongness of such thinking, as did Barry Goldwater, the founder of what was once considered, unironically, “modern conservatism." 
Nowadays if you don’t blast your Christianity like a bazooka, forget about the Republican nomination. Donald Trump, not entirely dumb, has begun lugging around a Bible after letting it slip that he’s never sought God’s forgiveness. (There’s a Jewish contender for the Democratic nomination; he doesn’t honk that Shofar, though, because he considers it, as he should, irrelevant. Not so those other guys, testifying nonstop, to the delight of their enraptured voters.) 
Is stoning your disobedient son compatible with the Constitution? Do “war presidents” follow Jesus’ call to turn the other cheek? How many Republican candidates subscribe to His views on charity? In a rare Biblical reference to Christian government, Acts 2:44-45 bespeaks communism, not capitalism. 
There’s one Muslim in Congress. Far as I know, he’s never offered a bill based on Sharia law, while Christian legislators who’ve proposed Bible-based legislation are legion, and not just in Congress. A city council in Arizona wants only Christian prayer at their meetings. Several red states have proposed making the Bible their state book. Constitutional incompatibility? Not to “values voters,” who, when it comes to their – and only their -- religion, consider the document irrelevant. 
People who don’t understand how separation of church and state protects both won’t change. Most Republicans consider this exclusively a Christian nation while, for religious reasons, rejecting the science of climate change, evolution, sexual orientation, and more. The thought of a president with a mind closed that tight, Christian or otherwise, scares me to death; I’d vote a hundred times for Kareem Abdul Jabbar before I’d vote once for Carson, who, emulating Palinesque down-dumbing, sneers at those “highfalutin scientists.” I would, that is, if it weren’t unconstitutional.
[Image source]


  1. Excellent post, hope you don't get the same kind of threats that I did when my letters were published in our local right-wing daily rag. Their stupidity... it buuuuuurns.

  2. Glad you are accepting comments again Sid. This post illuminates your intellectual gifts. I agree with 99.9 % ofyour analysis. I don't think the remaining 0.1 % is relevant.Carson is very smart, however his scope of expertise does not include politics nor the history of how Christian thought contributed to the constitution. So in reality our constitution was based upon 'christian' ideals' Which in turns bans religion from 'interfering" with government process It's time for my afternoon nap now.

  3. Sleep tight, Gary. We surgeons know you don't have to be smart to be a surgeon (that's what they say, right?) In the case of Carson, though, I'm not sure I agree that he's smart. Evidently he was a good surgeon; the part of the brain responsible for that must be at least above average. But I haven't heard him say anything outside that field that sounds smart at all. Clueless more like. But, again, like a surgeon: not always right but never in doubt.

  4. Excellent post. I recommend Laurence Krauss article in New Yorker that takes Carson apart on the science

  5. I've seen that article, and liked it so much it's already one of the links in the post.

    FWIW, I've also sent that article to a creationist acquaintance and he dismissed the author as not knowing what he's talking about. Which sort of show that this whole enterprise is just pissing in the wind.

  6. I was raised a Seventh Day Adventist, the same religion as Carson. Funny thing is they are infatuated with the possibility of a national Sunday law and think the pope is the antichrist. They have claimed to stand for separation of church and state secondary to this fear yet Carson's comments have demonstrated anything but that desire. He is a pandering hypocrite just like the rest of them. JW

  7. A twist on an old favorite:
    What's the difference between God and a surgeon?
    God doesn't think he's Ben Carson.
    (Disclaimer-I'm an Occupational Therapist so after people get cut on by George Clooney they get physical rehab by Louis CK minus the comedic talent. )
    I've noticed that a number of incredibly talented, gifted artists, writers, physicians, etc., tend to have a directly proportional temperament. So yes a lot of musicians and surgeons are real big JERKS (present company excepted Sid). On the other hand, cat killing Caridiac surgeon could save your life (but he would still be a lying sack of crap) but isn't that what life is really like?
    Which brings me back to Carson. He has achieved rotten bastard status for what he said about Muslims can't be President although his list is much lengthier. Maybe he has a good bedside manner, but I don't trust Carson to make a decision about lunch much less foreign policy.

  8. I've known a few asshole surgeons, Dan. But really, none that seem as dumb as Carson on matters outside his field. As I wrote, there's something about politically active R doctors in general. Can't figure it out.

  9. I'm still curious and a bit angry with former Rep Braun from GA. His " everything I learned in med school were lies from the pit of hell" should have earned at least a censure from the state medical board.
    Who makes a statement like that? Really, who? Is he so compartmentmentalized that he can say that to RWS then turn right around and practice scientific lies from the pit of hell medicine?
    I honestly don't mean to target doctors or anyone in medicine but I do hold anyone with at least a college degree to a higher standard.

  10. A little late to comment on Carson, but I posted a comment on the Herald today that didn't last very long. It was a little snarky or could be read that way. I made reference to an observation my wife made. Watching, listening to, and reading about Carson's statements, she concluded that he falls somewhere on the high end of the autism spectrum. She's taught many students with either autism diagnoses or clearly autistic behaviors.

    As soon as she said that I suddenly saw it, too. The monotonic, emotionless voice, the relatively flat affect, facial gestures occasionally somewhat inappropriate, and odd responses to questioning. Not that it would disqualify him for the office, but I certainly wouldn't want anyone as president who couldn't immediately and accurately read people and situations and respond appropriately.

    I think he is the scariest of all of them.

  11. Interesting theory. There's definitely something off about him, and maybe that's it. And I agree that he's as scary as they get: for one thing, he seems to have certainty in his infallibility, because God. His particular sort of belief in whom seems also to be the source of most of his denialism. There are reports surfacing, too, that he had more than his share of surgical screwups, and less than stellar bedside manner; which comes back to your wife's idea.

  12. Hopefully his rise in the polls will cause at least some of the press to do some digging. All along it's as if he's been standing in front of a huge, heavy door with large polished brass letters: "World-Renowned Brain Surgeon". The door has been locked and we have no idea what it contains or who has the key. Very strange.


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