Speaking to CSPAN on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, one of the Tea Party’s best hopes for 2016 said that the Black Lives Matter movement was not a serious continuation of Dr. King’s legacy. “If we’re going to be taken seriously in the black community,” said Dr. Ben Carson, “we must be objective.” Carson said that by taking people “engaged in a lot of criminal activity” like Michael Brown and Eric Garner and putting them at the forefront of the movement, “it blunts any arguments we have down the road when something really does happen.
“It’s basically crying wolf,” he said.
Carson said black leaders should refine their message to one of empowerment, rather than one that perpetuated a “cycle of dependency.” To that end, he recommended teaching young black Americans the value of personal responsibility, the importance of respecting authority, and the history of black inventors and entrepreneurs who had helped shape America.
He couldn’t be more right. And, the thing is, it’s the easiest history in the world to teach. The story of black America – starting under the thumb of slavery in the formative years of the country only to rise to unimaginable heights in the 1960s – is one that can inspire even the laziest welfare dependent. Crispus Attucks, a black man, was the first victim of the Boston Massacre in 1770. Some estimates have it that at least 9,000 free black soldiers fought against the British in the Revolutionary War. The story of black triumph is tied inextricably to the story of the United States.
But that story has hit some stumbling blocks since the day of Martin Luther King, Jr. With a country so far past systematic racism that a black man was able to twice win the presidency, liberal policies have prevented many black Americans from escaping the cycle of poverty. From escaping the cycle of incarceration. With every opportunity available, too many are willing to blame their personal failures on the system at large.
Whether he becomes a serious candidate for president or not, I hope Dr. Ben Carson can rise to become a new figure in black leadership. This country’s minorities need leaders that preach hard work and individual spirit instead of leaders like Al Sharpton, who preach that the game is rigged against them. No one can win when they believe that the world is conspiring to keep them down. No one can rise to their potential when they become addicted to learned helplessness.
Black America doesn’t need changes in the law. It doesn’t need to eliminate every racist in America. It needs to embrace the message of self-reliance, self-esteem, and big dreams that have been the backbone of this country for over 200 years. And, frankly, it’s not just young black men and women who need to hear this message. Any liberal who votes Democratic and blames the government for keeping them down needs to hear it. This life is what you make of it. Period. Whatever your hardships, people have overcome worse. Their stories are written. Find them, take their lessons to heart, and forge your own path.
That, in a nutshell, is what America is all about. Thank you, Ben Carson, for being one of the few men still willing to say it without shame.