There has long been this odd tension among black conservatives and black voters in general. The real split may have come during the Jackie Robinson era. Before that, particularly in the 19th century into the 20th century when black people in the U.S. finally gained somewhat of a political voice - even when slavery was in place - being black and Republican was common, which is why Frederick Douglass was as much a Republican as Abraham Lincoln.
I’m an L.A. Dodgers fan because of Robinson, a Major League Baseball icon, even though I’ve never been anywhere close to California and my “hometown” team is supposed to be the Atlanta Braves.
Robinson was a Republican, an outspoken one at that. He was strong. He was tough, had integrity and still seemed to have a sense of fairness about him. That’s why he’s still revered on many levels, and that’s why I’m still a Dodgers fan.
I grew up a fan of Dr. Ben Carson as well. But since he took an opportunity at the National Prayer Breakfast a few years ago to become a political animal, one who seems to be auditioning for the Fox News Channel, he seems less heroic to me, and many others.
And it is not because he is a conservative and Republican. I have great respect for many black conservatives. Colin Powell, Condeleezza Rice, Sen. Tim Scott and Michael Steele quickly come to mind, not because I agree with everything they’ve ever said, done or stood for - that’s not true of anyone I know, not even my mother or wife - but because they seem to have the same sense of justice Robinson always held on to. I don’t get that feeling from Carson.
He’s stepping into the presidential race today and will be visiting Georgetown May 8. I’m hoping that over the course of this process, he will refine his image and make it clear that’s he’s still very much in touch with his roots, the challenges and struggles that shaped him.
As Ben Carson bashes Obama, many blacks see a hero’s legacy fade:
Mark Terrelonge, 26, who is in his final year at Stanford University School of Medicine, said he feels his heart sink every time another clip of Carson shows up on his Facebook feed.
Reading “Gifted Hands” as a teenager, Terrelonge said he saw Carson’s story as an affirmation of his own ambitions to become a doctor. Never before had he heard of a black man in the upper echelons of medicine. But Terrelonge, who is gay, was stung when he heard Carson say that homosexuality was a choice.
“I don’t know how to say it exactly,” Terrelonge said. “I don’t want to attack him because he’s done great things in medicine, but the role-model aspect of him has kind of diminished in my life.”
What If Sarah Palin Were a Brain Surgeon:
On the night earlier this year that Barack Obama stepped before the nation to deliver his sixth State of the Union address, Ben Carson—a political newcomer who harbors dreams of soon giving his first—settled into a sofa just a few blocks away. He was eager to hate everything the president was about to say.
Carson had come to the Capitol Hill home of Armstrong Williams, a conservative media impresario who officially serves as Carson's business manager and who lately has functioned as Carson's unofficial image-maker and political adviser as well. As the two men turned to the TV, they began dissecting Obama's performance.
"He looks good," Williams said. "He looks clean. Shirt's white. The tie. He looks elegant."
"Like most psychopaths," Carson grumbled. "That's why they're successful. That's the way they look. They all look great."
For those unfamiliar with the mood of America's far right, casually branding the president a psychopath is exactly the sort of talk that strikes a chord—and just the thing that has made Carson a sensation in the GOP. Today the former pediatric neurosurgeon—who's never run for elected office—is suddenly besting candidates like Jeb, Marco, and Rand in some 2016 polls and preparing to announce his campaign for the White House. As for the current resident, well, Carson is sometimes encouraged to cut him just a little slack before he hands over the keys.
"He faces the same challenges you will face," Williams said of Obama as he spoke. "He's gotta convince people to believe him. That's all he's doing: selling his narrative."
"But he knows he's telling a lie!" Carson vented. "He's trying to sell what he thinks is not true! He's sitting there saying, 'These Americans are so stupid I can tell them anything.' "