I may be one of the few people in my social circle that likes some of what Ben Carson has to offer. I think everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and while Ben Carson has his share of weaknesses….
…he also has a lot of strengths. I appreciate that he is openly reflective about his struggles as a young man. He became chief of pediatric neurosurgery at 33 years old and is a world-renowned, well-published academic surgeon. That is to say, while some of his views may be too extreme to make him a good president, he has gifts and strengths that could certainly be used to benefit the American people. It makes me wonder if we shouldn’t be trying to capitalize on people’s strengths for the benefit of our country. I mean, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His Scholar’s Fund has awarded 6,700 $1000 college scholarships. Surely, this guy’s got some things we could benefit from.
What I am completely, utterly baffled by is why he would agree to be Trump’s HUD secretary. Trump has been horrible to Ben Carson. He questioned Ben Carson’s temperament and fitness during the primaries. He equated Carson’s self-described former”pathological” temper with being a child molester, saying:
That’s a big problem because you don’t cure that … as an example: child molesting. You don’t cure these people. You don’t cure a child molester. There’s no cure for it. Pathological, there’s no cure for that.”
So, if you’re Ben Carson, how can you possibly agree to serve as HUD secretary under Trump? How could you work for someone who implied that you were incurable? And if you’re Trump, and you truly believe that someone has a pathological trait that puts them on the same plane as a child molester, how do you consider hiring that person? And how do you consider hiring them into a position that serves some of our most vulnerable citizens? If I’m going to make that sort of claim about someone (which I can’t see myself doing), I’m not going to turn around and hire them. What does this tell you about Trump’s sincerity and judgment?
I worry that this appointment says a lot about Trump’s views on race and class in America. See, every time Trump mentions the “inner city” he follows it up with “African American”. While there are certainly intersections of class and race, living in the inner city and being African American are not mutual. It creates a boundary around minority status that is hard to overcome – that the only African American issues are inner city issues. I suspect that African Americans outside of the inner city might have issue with this. It also excludes the experiences and needs of other minority groups, both inside and outside of the inner city.
Given Trump’s rhetoric around poverty and race, I suspect that he lacks any understanding of the nuances of these issues and has not intention of addressing them in any meaningful way. His selection of Ben Carson, putting a black man in charge of housing and urban development, is a hand wavy and trivial gesture that will in no way win over the part of the electorate for whom these are important issues. And that’s a damned shame because I suspect that, given the opportunity, Ben Carson could actually have a lot to offer.