It takes a pathological degree of self-obliviousness to be a white conservative guy like Jonah Goldberg and write this:
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson took a plausible stab at why Carson is popular. â€œThey like him, they like him,â€ he repeated, referring to conservatives in Iowa and elsewhere who admire Carsonâ€™s dignified and soft-spoken demeanor.
True enough; Carson has the highest favorables of any candidate in the GOP field.
But whatâ€™s remarkable is that at no point in this conversation did anyone call attention to the fact that Carson is an African-American. Indeed, most analysis of Carsonâ€™s popularity from pundits focuses on his likable personality and his sincere Christian faith. But itâ€™s intriguingly rare to hear people talk about the fact that heâ€™s black.
One could argue that heâ€™s even more authentically African-American than Barack Obama, given that Obamaâ€™s mother was white and he was raised in part by his white grandparents. In his autobiography, Obama writes at length about how he grew up outside the traditional African-American experience â€” in Hawaii and Indonesia â€” and how he consciously chose to adopt a black identity when he was in college.
Meanwhile, Carson grew up in Detroit, the son of a very poor, very hard-working single mother. His tale of rising from poverty to become the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital is one of the most inspiring rags-to-riches stories of the last half-century. (Cuba Gooding Jr. played Carson in the movie about his life.) He was a towering figure in the black community in Baltimore and nationally â€” at least, until he became a Republican politician.
Like I said, it takes a pathological degree of self-obliviousness for Goldberg to assume he is in any way qualified to judge “authentic” African-Americanism. But note what Goldberg is saying here — he’s complaining that the world isn’t perpetually commenting on Ben Carson’s blackness.
It gets better. Goldberg then descends into the Usual Whining about how everybody picks on Republicans, and if a Democrat were to be treated as shabbily in media as Carson is being treated — the New York Times has stopped calling him “Dr.” — “charges of racism would be thick in the air.”
Then there’s the crowing about Hey, liberals — we got us a black politician, too! How do you like them apples?
How strange it must be for people who comfort themselves with the slander that the GOP is a cult of organized racial hatred that the most popular politician among conservatives is a black man. Better to ignore the elephant in the room than account for such an inconvenient fact. The race card is just too valuable politically and psychologically for liberals who need to believe that their political opponents are evil.
Carsonâ€™s popularity isnâ€™t solely derived from his race, but it is a factor. The vast majority of conservatives resent the fact that Democrats glibly and shamelessly accuse Republicans of bigotry â€” against blacks, Hispanics, and women â€” simply because they disagree with liberal policies (which most conservatives believe hurt minorities). Yet conservatives also refuse to adopt those liberal policies just to prove they arenâ€™t bigots. Carson â€” not to mention Carly Fiorina and Hispanics Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio â€” demonstrates that thereâ€™s no inherent contradiction between being a minority (or a woman) and supporting conservative principles. And that fact is just too terrible for some liberals to contemplate.
Of course, that depends on what “conservative principles” one is talking about, but never mind.