The Ben Carson Enigma: 'American Exceptionalism' or Double Racism?

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson looks on as he is introduced to speak at a town hall meeting, Friday, Oct. 2
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson looks on as he is introduced to speak at a town hall meeting, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Ankeny, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Many Republicans continue to express an aversive response to President Barack Obama. Whether in the form of their denial of his American citizenship, or denying his Christian religion, the stench of racism remains as a fundamental motivator. Additionally, the president's reticence, or even his inability to do the Washington Two-Step, only adds fuel to the fire of their negative opinions about the president.

Obama's critics nearly always refer to HIS "ordinary" beginnings as a social organizer and often remind us that he is the product of a mixed racial marriage. Ironically, this essentially good and smart man arrived on the scene shouldering OUR worst stereotypes.

He was elected and inaugurated as our 44th president. Nonetheless, our racial-sociologically-transitioning culture still finds it difficult to accept him as OUR "duly elected" president

Barack Hussein Obama is not Jewish, nor was he born blind. However, he is an attorney.

As POTUS he found the internal power and wisdom to navigate us through the worst financial disaster ever, and, largely, he has conducted a risk averse foreign policy, bringing most of our soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan (Notwithstanding his recent decision to increase our military presence to 5,500 soldiers).

While no one questions either his intelligence or his verbal ability to convince, in the cloakrooms and private dinners... his distractors call him names that have conditioned by their white racist distain, animosity and prejudice.

In contrast, Dr. Ben Carson seems to be almost inoculated from these racial problems. He speaks softly, sometimes indistinctly. He has an incredibly warm smile. It may be that the fact he is a brain surgeon, especially a Black brain surgeon, gives him the appearance of having a unique mantle of intelligence.

Compared to the work of a social organizer, everyone knows that a brain surgeon MUST be really smart. Thus, Dr. Carson wins the "smart" comparison simply by his former job function vis-à-vis the president's.

Indeed, the fact that he is BLACK and a BRAIN SURGEON, generates a "wow" reaction by Republicans, and, probably more than a few Democrats.

Think about it: A Black neurosurgeon. To Dr. Carson's supporters ANY neurosurgeon, especially someone who saves children's lives deserves our respect.

True respect almost always trumps racism. In other words, it is "Un-American" to disrespect a brain surgeon who saves children -- the perfect shield against racism. Thus, the success of his money raising campaign and his mostly softball treatment by the press. Dr. Carson has achieved an inoculated status -- one that Barack Obama, the social organizer or for that matter the president, cannot compare.

When it comes to racism, it may be that what we are witnessing is a kind of double reverse, but still active, despicable, maybe even a unique form of white supremacist racism.

A "sea-change" has occurred in our country since the election of President Obama. Some of this is evidenced, for example, by significantly more African-Americans represented in advertising, as news pundits, stars of television dramas and in the movies, not to mention a greater number of small black-owned businesses. Much of this is the "residue" of the Obama Change. These are probably discounted when compared to the power of operating on children's brains.

Dr. Carson and President Obama are both highly successful. However, it may be a form of "reverse racism" to compare one to other. Both, in different ways, are still affected in our 2015 America.

The president experiences our ordinary old-fashioned racism. The mindset of the "Jim Crow" type. Dr. Carson does not. Instead, for him it has been converted, almost magically, into a unique kind of acceptance, even pedestalizing for having achieved the lofty position of being a "brain surgeon."

And, while we should be happy Dr. Carson is spared the same kind of scrutiny and diminishment that still befalls the president, who is no credentialed slouch, we should not let this oddity of reaction to how he and Dr. Carson are respectively treated blind us to reality.

Yes, we should thank God that men, black or white, like Dr. Carson help our children. They've studied hard.

However, if we bumped our head, depending upon the surrounding circumstances, we may need a brain surgeon. However, one with the commitment and focused knowledge like that possessed by Dr. Carson would be meaningless if that bump sustained in a car crash also involved a traumatized heart and a punctured spleen. Instantly, we would need two other specialists... two other surgeons... black or white does not really matter.

So what does our brain surgeon really bring to the table when ISIS decides to blow-up a synagogue in Tel-Aviv... on the same day that Putin's Army opens fire on the Kurds... and Kim Jong-un launches a missile that accidently hits the island of Hokkaido, Japan?

For this, we need a trained organizer not an individual trained in the largely individualistic job of repairing blood vessels that happen in the brain. Regrettably, Dr. Carson is being protected by the same reverse racism that is acting like a blinder preventing Americans from focusing on what is truly important.

In reality, on a worst case basis, maybe, I'd take a person who knows how to track and assemble the millions of parts and hundreds of contractors needed to build a building rather than someone who limits his ability to fixing, even the brain's, plumbing.

Regrettably, the nation is still unable to show President Obama his due respect because racism still persists, and is evolving.

The nation respects Dr. Carson despite his race AND also, BECAUSE of his race.

The White America appears to have found a way to reverse the social fabric that has cloaked the president and, temporarily and erroneously, hiding its still active racist content behind the word "brain." For sake of our nation, this may not be so smart.

We will be unable to transcend the white supremacist Ebola-like virus that still infects our body politic from the legacy of the institution of slavery. This continues to affect our lives 24/7. It will remain unabated unless we make a commitment to end it once and for all, whether in regard to Dr. Carson or President Obama.

More importantly, we will be unable to do this unless we come to understand that, in real time, at the end of the day: "WE ARE THE ONES WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!"

(Written with contribution of ideas from my friend, Leon B. Kassman.)