When Baltimore neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson handed President Obama his head on a platter at the recent National Prayer Breakfast, I can't say that I was surprised. I've been an admirer of Carson since 1998. I was a columnist for the Baltimore Sun then, covering a story about how the principal at a local high school suspended, en masse, most of the student body.
This sent the "our children are really sweet little dears" bunch into a frenzy. They didn't blame the students -- who refused to return to class after a fire drill -- for the suspensions. They blamed the principal.
Baltimore officials decided that the high school needed some kind of intervention. So they organized a rally to urge more parents to get involved with their children's educations. Former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke -- who went on to become dean of Howard University School of Law -- spoke at the rally, as did former Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy.
Actor Charles S. Dutton, a Baltimore native, also spoke. Schmoke, Jessamy and Dutton all gave cogent, commendable speeches. But the speaker that impressed me the most was Carson. When he was in high school, Carson told the audience, he made straight A's. His "peers" told him that he wasn't cool. Dressing in the latest fashions, they told him, was cool.
Carson bought into this nonsense, but only briefly. When his grades began to slip, he went back to making straight A's, to the displeasure of those "peers." They called him "nerd," "Poindexter" and "Uncle Tom." Carson brushed them aside and told them, "Let's see what I'm doing in 20 years and what you're doing in 20 years."
I felt that Carson and I -- who have never met -- were kindred spirits. For years I'd been excoriating black students who disdained getting good grades. Like Carson when he was in high school, I got called an Uncle Tom for my efforts. Later I learned of Carson's bootstrap story from when he was growing up in Detroit. A single mother raised him and his brother. She couldn't read, but she made darned sure her sons could.
She had them trek to the library, borrow a book, read it AND write a book report on it. She didn't use the fact that she and her sons were black and poor as an excuse for their not achieving academically. Her efforts paid off. Carson would go on to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon -- one that Obama, I'm sure, wishes had passed on speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast.
With the president sitting only a few feet from him, Carson criticized Obamacare. Then he let the president know how wrong his policy of overly taxing the rich is.
To bolster his point, Carson went straight to the Bible. (This might have been lost on Obama, who probably spent way too much time at the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Chicago church.)
"What we need to do is come up with something that's simple," Carson said. "God has given us a system. He didn't say, 'If your crops fail, don't give me a tithe.' He didn't say, 'If you get a bumper crop, give me a triple tithe.' So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality.
"You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10; you put in one dollar. But some people say, 'That's not fair because it doesn't hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made $10.' But where does it say that you have to hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot. We don't need to hurt him."
Indeed we don't. But you can bet Carson's message was lost on the leader of America's class warfare party.
Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.