Years ago, when we native Detroiters first learned that Ben Carson was born and raised in our home town, we were all so proud of him. He came up on the East Side in Indian Village, for God’s sake, and black people in my neighborhood felt like he was kinfolk: he was one of us who’d made it!
No one in our circle, in our neck of the woods, knew anything at all about neurosurgery, but here was the ‘smartest guy in the world’ — -a brother — performing unheard of miracles. He worked with his hands healing people with brain issues, and we all stood a little taller because of him. And as recently as 2009, when his best-selling autobiography, Healing Hands, was adapted into a made-for-television movie, all of America saw Dr. Ben as a real-life hero when he successfully performed a life-saving surgery on twin babies conjoined at the back of their heads; a miracle worker!
Dr. Ben subsequently received all sorts of medical awards for his astounding achievements. Indeed, as a direct result of the movie, his amazing medical career was known the world over; he was admired and respected and received accolades wherever he went.
Ben Carson met Donald Trump, swerved out of his lane, and veered smack dab into a game he knew nothing about. Consequently, he lost his fascination and his charm, and some might say, the thrill was gone. Trump hired him as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and suddenly Carson was like a fish out of water. He was lost. His only preparedness for the job, according him, is that he grew up poor in subsidized housing. And his proximity to rats and roaches, he said, would make him qualified to direct the nation’s 45 billion dollar housing agency: “I grew up in Detroit and Boston. In Boston, we lived in the ghetto. There were rats, there were roaches. It was dire poverty.”
So now, three-and a-half years into the job, Carson has become the butt of late-night television jokes on one hand, and a cruel, mean-spirited administrator on the other. Indeed, Dr. Ben Carson now uses those very same healing hands we were so very proud of years ago to sign dangerous directives that are forcing people out onto the streets. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), he has proposed tripling the minimum rent for the poorest Americans who live in government subsidized housing, the same type housing he grew up in. But he’s Trump’s boy now and could care less about the economic class of people he was once a part of.
Most people have heard the commonly-discussed stereotype that people on the dole are abusing food stamps and are supposedly using them to buy and sell drugs from funds that “our tax dollars paid for”. But here’s some alternative ‘whataboutisms’ to think about.
What about the huge tax breaks the government freely provides for the large corporate donors who fund the various political campaigns?
And what about the huge grants-in-aid the government issues to researchers, who sometimes look into the most-irrelevant and ridiculous of topics just to secure the money: things like “Why Do Birds Fly?’, or do earthworms enjoy being fish bait?
Or, what about the wealthy corporations in this country that a few years ago received the largest tax breaks in the nation’s history? Corporate welfare is never discussed.
Furthermore, a few years ago, what about the fact that Ben Carson was caught spending $31,000 of taxpayer money to purchase a spanking brand new dining room set for his wife? After the purchase was revealed, yes, he returned the furniture, but he displayed no shame what-so-ever as he casually continues to sign directives ordering public housing closed and demolished on President Trump’s behalf, leaving mothers and children with nowhere to go.
Yes, Ben Carson made it big, but we still wonder whatever happened to the compassionate Dr. Ben Carson from Detroit who used to save lives?