David concludes his conversation with Dr. Benjamin Carson, the groundbreaking neurosurgeon and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In part two, Dr. Carson talks about the importance of being nice, the positive strides we’ve made since the Civil Rights movement, the importance of Faith, Life, Liberty, and Community, and veracity in coming to meaningful solutions to all, and how the American Cornerstone Institute delivers much more than a normal ‘think tank’.
Welcome back to my conversation with the groundbreaking neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson. Currently, he’s the chairman of the American Cornerstone Institute, and we’re going to get into that. But first, Mr. Secretary, I lived in suburban Boston after Sam Cunningham playing football for USC beat Alabama in Alabama, and was part of a community that welcomed some great students and athletes that came out to study and play sports and host from Boston our great friends in our homes after the racial tension surfaced during the forced busing issues in the 1970s. Later, my daughter and son were fortunate enough to live in a military town where meritocracy ruled. Can you talk about the positive strides we’ve made since the Civil rights movement?
First of all, recognize that just in my lifetime, America has changed dramatically. When I was a little kid, I remember it was a big deal when somebody came on television who was black in a nonservile role. You called everybody in, that was a great deal of excitement. And now in that same lifetime, we have black admirals and generals and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and heads of foundations and university presidents including Ivy Leagues. We’ve had a black president elected twice and a black vice president. The list goes on and on, and that’s in one lifetime.
You talk about society with the ability to make great changes quickly, that’s a very good example of it. We should be looking at those improvements and building on them rather than trying to tear our society down and talk about how horrible we are. If we’re that horrible a society, if we’re that unfair to people, why the heck is everybody trying to come in through our southern border? Why are they trying to get here? And when they get here, why don’t they call all their friends and relatives and say, “Don’t come here. It’s a horrible place.” Of course, that’s not happening because it’s not true.
Veracity does matter. Let’s move on to the American Cornerstone Institute where you list several items that need to improve focusing on life, liberty, community, and faith, including the equal opportunity for all, energy independence, adherence to the constitution, protection and electrical grid, care for those that can’t care for themselves, border security, mounting debt, environmental stability. Could you care to comment further on this?
The point being is that we have a lot of problems. And we need to be dealing logically with those problems rather than fighting each other. We the American people are not each other’s enemies. We are very foolish to allow the purveyance of division and hatred to be able to manipulate us into thinking because of political differences or other differences that we are each other’s enemies, that we should be canceled, that you can say anything you want, and harm people and their families. That is the formula for destruction. Jesus said it best. The house divided against itself cannot stand. Abraham Lincoln repeated it, and that’s what’s going on. So we need to learn how to take our differences and sit down at the table and discuss them and come up with mutually satisfactory solutions. That’s why we have these big frontal lobes and these complex brains. So when we’re dealing with something like energy, we don’t have to sit on one side of the table and say, green energy, green energy, renewable energy, and that’s what it’s going to be.
And too bad for anything else. Or sit on the other side and say fossil fuels are the salvation of the world, and let’s just make sure we use them all up. Instead, let’s sit down and talk] and say, renewable energy, green energy is desirable. And progress in energy is desirable. Are we ready to turn completely to it right now? Do we have the infrastructure to support it? No. Do we have a lot of fossil fuels and have we learned how to use them in a clean way? And were we able to become energy independent in a net exporter of energy so that we protect the financial structure of our country and of so many families? Why don’t we sit down and figure out how we can use what we have to get what we want rather than fight each other? That would be what intelligent people would do.
That would be how they would solve these problems. When you look at something like our border and people just flooding across and we have government officials saying “There’s no problem at the border, it’s all a figment of your imagination. There’s no problem.” Well, of course, anybody would have a brain knows that’s not true. There’s a big problem. But we have ways of dealing with that. We need to control our border. We need to establish a guest worker program because a lot of the people who live south of the border, they just want a better life for themselves and for their families.
I can’t blame them for that, but we have a mechanism whereby we can do that with a healthy guest worker program. They come, they work, they pay taxes, they come and go as they please, and if they want to become an American citizen, they go through the same thing that anybody else would go through to become an American citizen. That’s what intelligent people would do rather than making it into a gigantic problem. And same goes for virtually any other problems that you mentioned. There are completely logical and reasonable solutions that people from different viewpoints can arrive at if they’re just willing to sit down and talk.
Makes sense. Actually sitting down and dealing with stuff instead of just shouting past each other. You spoke about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should be front and center and wary of restrictions on freedoms. You even went as strong as to say that jihadists identify infidels and either convert or kill them. Is that the way media and politics right now are going? And what are your comments on that and how do you think it should change?
Well, it’s frightening to see that political philosophies are driving some of our law enforcement efforts. How the FBI is being used to persecute certain people, depending on their political philosophy, and completely ignore wrongdoing by other people depending on their political philosophy. Utilizing our law enforcement agencies in this way is laying the foundation for total chaos and destruction, and it needs to be addressed as quickly as possibly can be because it will destroy the foundations of our democratic society and demonize those with whom we disagree, saying that if these people are put into office, democracy will end and all that kind of just absolute garbage. And frightening people. Rather than sitting down and recognizing that we have a society that’s composed of many different people with many different beliefs, and a one size fits all philosophy does not work in that kind of society, and therefore you need to be cognizant of what the differences are and civil enough to be able to sit down and work on things that make sense for all the people.
Sometimes community and liberty sometimes can collide. As the former head of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins where you shared your extraordinary gifts, there’s been a movement in the United States headed by Dr. Chris Nowinski, Robert Cantu of the Concussion Legacy Foundation to improve children’s lives by stop hitting his kids in the head with full contact football, heading in soccer, and full contact rugby due to pre-concussive hits that cause CTE. Meanwhile, certain parent groups have fought this as taking away parental choice and liberty. What do you do when liberty and life, for example, intersect? Where does Dr. Carson stand on this issue?
I stand on the side of liberty, but also on the side of dissemination of knowledge. For instance, when we’re dealing with Covid and vaccines, is it better to mandate that people have to do something or is it better to give people accurate information and let them work with their healthcare provider since everybody is different and has different risks? So I think people are intelligent enough to make wise choices, provided that they are given the full scope of information, not slanted information about what is happening. And that’s unfortunately what the CDC, and the NIH has engaged then and it has poisoned the atmosphere and the trust that people have in our government healthcare agencies.
You gave a new concept of looking at race differently. Is it racism or classism? Could you kindly explain the difference for our listeners that haven’t really delved into this concept before?
There is a lot of classism in our country. There’s a lot of classism around the world. People of high socioeconomic status frequently don’t want to deal with people of low socioeconomic status for a variety of reasons, one of which is people expect them to give to them. Sometimes they have just different sets of values. But unfortunately, a lot of people of color fall into the lower socioeconomic strata. They find that people are treating them differently and they think it’s because of their race, when in fact if their socioeconomic status was much higher, those people would treat them quite differently. And a lot of people just don’t understand the difference there. It shouldn’t be a problem, we shouldn’t be racist or classist. But the fact of the matter is it does exist and we need to acknowledge that it exists and understand it in order to put things in perspective.
Worth remembering that thought. Now, Ben, a common theme in our podcast has been partners at home. All my guests gush about their spouses were a big part of their success and you’re no different. You mentioned Candy’s dad’s cousin was Bayard Rustin, her maiden name, a founding pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement, founding the SCLC with Dr. King. More than that, could you kindly tell me about the effect that Candy has had on your life?
Well, when I was a senior in college, I decided that it was time for me to stop resisting relationships. And so I said to God, I said, Lord, I’m going to stop resisting relationships, so let the next one be the right one. And the next one was Candy. And a lot of people who knew both of us before we knew each other were always saying, “You two should be together.” They could see something about us that was so similar. And in fact, once we started going together, we were virtually inseparable. Even when I was at medical school for two years and she was still at Yale, we were always on the phone. We wrote to each other every day. I remember one time we talked on the telephone for six hours and we dreaded the bill, but we never got it. I think the telephone company said this was a mistake and they crossed it up.
But she has been so supportive of everything that I’ve ever done. She’s incredibly smart, and I’ll tell you what kind of person she is. I love to play pool. She didn’t know how to play pool. She learned how to play pool. She said that’s the only way I’m going to have really good quality time with you. And now she’s an excellent pool player. We both love music and that’s what really brought us together. She’s a classical violinist, but also plays lots of other instruments and sings, and that brought us together and it still keeps us very much in harmony with each other every day.
We can all agree our greatest achievement is raising a family. And you’re a proud parent and grandparent, and we featured one of your kids, Ben Junior, and his wife Merlin. Ben is involved in private equity investing in minority businesses to reduce the racial wealth gap. And Merlin, a medical doctor in the medical technology entrepreneurship space. It kind of makes you proud, doesn’t it?
It’s been absolutely wonderful. First of all, they all got married in 2011. All three sons. They’ve all produced wonderful grandchildren. They’re all successful in what they do, and they care about other people. None of them’s ever been in any trouble with the law or with anybody else. They respect other people, they get along well with other people. BJ in particular, who you interviewed has become incredibly successful financially, but also in terms of creating opportunities for other people.
In gifted hands, you stated to think big. Talent, time, hope, honesty, insight, nice knowledge, books, in-depth learning in God. Please kindly cover appropriately your thoughts and your niceness is, I may say, is exceedingly refreshing.
It’s so important that we learn to respect other people and to be nice to them. And the interesting thing is, if you’re nice to people, once they get over their suspicion of why you’re being nice, they’ll be nice to you. And you can get so much more done when you’re being nice and they’re being nice. It’s a lot easier. It takes a lot more energy and effort not to be nice to people. And you think about how this country developed. Early on, there were all these small communities. 20 families, 50 families, a hundred families isolated from anybody else. Nobody else around for 25, 50, a hundred miles. Not only did they survive, but they thrive. Why were those communities able to thrive? Because they used their different skills and talents collectively for the good of the whole community. They were nice to each other. They took care of each other.
If it was harvest time, Mr. Johnson broke his leg, everybody else harvested his crops, no questions asked. That was the kind of spirit that was prevalent in our society. It still exists in some portions of America. We have a farm in rural Maryland and people out in that neck of the woods, very nice. I remember one time we were having some work done at our house and we had some materials that were very exotic and they were brought all the way down from Canada on an 18-wheeler, very heavy. But when they got there, they realized they didn’t have a forklift, so there was no way to unload it. And one of our neighbors owns a heavy equipment company, sent over a forklift, did all the work, and wouldn’t take a penny for it. Those kinds of people still exist. They’re all around. And we need to make sure that we become those kinds of people.
There are many salt to the earth people in rural America, and fortunately, you can find some in cities and suburbs as well.
Anything else I missed and more information on the American Cornerstone Institute in Ben Carson and the way where we can get your podcast and your great books?
Yes, I would encourage people to go to americancornerstone.org. We have a host of programs there, including a lot of interviews of government officials talking about how the government actually works because we want to encourage people, young people in college, congressional staffers, et cetera, to want to get into the executive branch of government as career employees and to stay there and to help to formulate good policies and push good policies in our country. We also have a pediatric component called Little Patriots. It has lessons K through five on the real history of our country and the real principles of our founding, the good, the bad, and the ugly. But there’s a lot more good than there is bad and ugly. And we have the Star Spangled Adventure Series. A new cartoon series comes out every month teaching certain things about history, like there’s one on the Boston Tea Party, one in the Decoration of Independence, et cetera.
And they’re done extremely well. We hired some of the best animators from Pixar, ABC Kids, and Disney, and they’ve put together absolutely fascinating stuff that has lesson plans with it. It’s great for parents and grandparents to go through with kids. It’s also designed for schools, home schools, public, private schools. But when you look at it, you say, wow, this is very expensive. And it’s true. It is very expensive, but we’ve had it underwritten by patriots and therefore it’s absolutely a hundred percent free.
Oh, that’s quite special. That really is. I can’t thank you enough, Mr. Secretary, Dr. Carson, for sharing and taking the time with us. And hopefully, I know all the listeners and myself have really appreciated and we’ve learned an awful lot.
Well, thank you so much. Thanks for having me, and thanks for being a patriot.
ABOUT BEN CARSON
Dr. Carson is Founder and Chairman of the American Cornerstone Institute, a new think tank / do tank whose mission is to promote the 4 founding principles which are cornerstones of our country: faith, liberty, community, and life as well as pursue common sense solutions that challenge conventional groupthink. He most recently served as the 17th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For nearly 30 years, Dr. Carson served as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a position he assumed when he was just 33 years old, becoming the youngest major division director in the hospital’s history. In 1987, he successfully performed the first separation of craniopagus twins conjoined at the back of the head. He also performed the first fully successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa.
Dr. Carson received dozens of honors and awards in recognition of his achievements including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He is also a recipient of the Spingarn Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and has been awarded over 70 honorary doctorate degrees. The U.S. News Media Group and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership named him among “America’s Best Leaders” in 2008.
Dr. Carson and his wife, Candy Carson, co-founded the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. The organization has awarded more than 10,000 scholars and more than $8 million in scholarships. Carson Scholars is currently operating in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and since its founding, has installed more than 250 Ben Carson Reading Rooms around the country.
Born in Detroit to a single mother with a 3rd-grade education who worked multiple jobs to support their family, Dr. Carson was raised to love reading and education. He has authored many books, four of which he co-wrote with his wife Candy. Recently, Dr. Carson wrote his first children’s book, Why America Matters, to teach kids about our important American values.
Dr. Carson graduated from Yale University and earned his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School. He and his wife are proud parents and grandparents.
Hosted By: David Radlo