Everyone loves an underdog story, but only if that underdog is not a religious Christian, conservative whose political views vary from the perceived “mainstream”.
This is the story of Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who became a conservative political figure.
Dr. Carson’s life story has the makings of an underdog story your average Reader’s Digest reader would adore – a Black man raised by a single mother in dire circumstances who earned a scholarship and became a well-renowned brain surgeon.
Yet the mainstream media has relentlessly maligned Dr. Carson’s life story, even discrediting these achievements, after going public with his political views.
Before the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, when Carson became a bona fide conservative hero, he was a well-respected neurosurgeon credited with a life story that the media revered.
He was a regular blogger at Huffington Post, he was the keynote speaker at Bucknell University’s graduation ceremony in 2010 and constantly referred to as an African-American success stories.
And rightly so, Dr. Carson was born to a life of destitution. His parents hailed from the rural South, but eventually the young couple separated leaving Carson’s mother Sonya to look after Ben and his older brother, Curtis, alone.
According to Dr. Carson’s biography, his mother worked two or three jobs at a time to make ends meet, most of which were as a domestic servant.
Sonya, a primary school drop-out, did not want her children to follow in her footsteps and pushed them to pursue a life of education. She encouraged them to read books and limited leisure time, putting focus on their academic work instead.
Eventually, that discipline paid dividends as Benjamin would become a scholar in top universities studying as a surgeon. He took up residency at John Hopkins Hospital in Maryland, eventually becoming their head of pediatric neurosurgery.
His crowning achievement came in 1987, when as an unknown neurosurgeon he led a 70-man surgical team to successfully separate a pair of Siamese twins joined at the head. It was the first time that such a procedure was attempted, since it was assumed that such an operation would not be viable.
The “Binder Twins” operation brought Dr. Carson’s name into the spotlight, launching him as a motivational speaker, author and all-around celebrity.
Decades later, Carson’s name would be put into the spotlight for a different reason.
During the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, a non-political function, Dr. Carson was invited as the guest speaker to an event which had President Obama in attendance.
In his speech, the neurosurgeon launched an attack on the failing economic health of his country – specifically the decline seen under Obama’s tenure. He then attacked the rising climate of political correctness in America – taking aim at how greeting “Merry Christmas” has become a taboo gesture.
His disdain for the macroeconomic legacy of the Obama administration as well as his resentment of the PC-culture so denigrated among conservatives made him their new folk hero.
As with any individual who shows a modicum of hostility towards President Obama, Dr. Carson became the liberal mainstream media’s number one enemy. He was targeted for his views on traditional marriage, on evolution and got eschewed by his own alma matter for having such views.
Dr. Carson used to be pointed at as the archetypal “American Dream” poster boy, but all his acclaim vanished when he made known his political views.
Nothing changed about his story, Dr. Carson still is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who escaped the poverty trap and made a life for himself. But that became insignificant once his views were not perceived to be aligned with the mainstream.
Realizing that makes understanding his life story so amazing: you accomplish so much and can rightfully stake a claim to be a role model – but all that is diminished by your contrarian political stance.
Which begs the question, what does make one a success story? Is it the accomplishments you make in your life, or the perceived validity of your opinions?