Graves Registry: The doctor and the iceberg


"Amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic." – Ben Carson

The statement above pretty much encapsulates everything that is ludicrous about the notion that Ben Carson has the capability of making a one step transition from operating room wunderkind to the leader of the free world. The quote itself was offered as a rebuttal to criticism that he has demonstrated very little understanding of the complexities of the job beyond an ability to vocalize notes that conservatives love to dance to. And when conservatives hear their favorite melodies wafting through the air, it hardly matters who is playing the tune.

Even people accustomed to the right wing's chronic inability to accept information that causes ruptures in their tight little me first worlds are at a loss to explain Carson's appeal. You don't profess to love your country and then vote for a man totally unfit to run it any more than you would load up a jumbo jet with 600 passengers and then go looking for someone wandering around in the airport to fly it.

The more Dr. Carson talks the more undefined he seems to be. The image, blurry to begin with, regresses like a photograph left in the sun. I'm afraid that a lot of his supporters have bought into the notion that, because he was a world-renowned neurosurgeon, a brilliant intellect must inform his every decision.

As if to personally counter that perilous assumption, Carson has already compiled a generous list of bizarre statements. Some of them rival the windy pronouncements of the GOP's other equally unqualified candidate — no small feat. Carson tends to equate anything he doesn't like with Nazism or slavery, although it has never been quite clear whether his views on slavery more closely correspond with the brutal subjugation of his own race as dramatized in "12 Years a Slave" or the paternalistic, "You'se gonna catch your death of the damp, Miss Scarlett" variety featured in "Gone With the Wind."

He occasionally lapses into statements notable for sheer idiocy, such as "The United States would be Cuba if it weren't for Fox News." It's nice to retain a certain loyalty to your old employers, especially when they can be so useful imparting their fair and balanced spin to the careless and offensive statements that often prove to be dangerous potholes in roads trod by ambitious amateurs.

Dr. Carson has also managed to embellish his own biography with some ruffles and flourishes that suggest that he, too, may be so entranced with his rags to riches story that he never imagined anyone would dare question the Damon Runyon touches. He has written a couple of books that reassured conservatives that they are absolutely right about their "up by your bootstraps" philosophy, even if the odds of attaining great success in America for most black men born into poverty remain slightly less than winning the lottery and scoring a date with Rihanna in the same week.

In reference to the quote at the head of this column, it is a catchy line guaranteed to get conservative heads bobbing in wise assent like those things you see in the back window of cars. It would hardly be worth commenting upon except for two points. The first – and most obvious – is the fact that the story of Noah and the Ark is a Biblical allegory. I have a very uneasy feeling, however, that Dr. Carson sincerely believes that God told a man to build a huge boat and then load a pair of each animal in the world aboard in preparation for a global flood. He believes that actually happened.

He is right about professionals building the Titanic. The same people also built the Olympic which, except for some cosmetic differences, was exactly the same vessel. She transported hundreds of thousands of passengers safely across the Atlantic, carried tens of thousands of troops during the First World War, and eventually acquired the name "Old Reliable" before she was finally retired in 1935.

The professionals who built the White Star sisters had nothing to do with running one of them into an iceberg and opening 300 feet of her hull to the ocean. If blame has to be placed for the destruction of the Titanic, it should mostly rest upon the shoulders of the people who drove her to destruction, a role that Dr. Carson displays a genuine potential to assume for as far as the United States is concerned.

He is currently riding at the crest of the wave as far as disaffected Republican voters are concerned. These are the people who believe that the best qualifier for the office of President of the United States is to exhibit no qualifications at all. In that respect, Dr. Carson is a shoo-in.

— Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist


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