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Ben Carson
Ben Carson
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A Problem Bigger than Ferguson


The international spotlight has recently been shining on Ferguson, Mo., after an 18-year-old black man was fatally shot by a white police officer. There was massive national and international media coverage, much of it engendered by the tantalizing thought that here was a clear-cut case of racism leading to police brutality and indicative of the evil inherent in American society. Violent demonstrations and riots ensued, with massive property damage and many outside agitators descending on the town, supposedly to guarantee justice as defined by mob mentality.

Perhaps it would be useful to examine the tragedy with the facts on the table rather than through the lenses of hypersensitized emotions stimulated by those attempting to exploit the situation.

Michael Brown was 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds. He had marijuana in his system and was purportedly involved in a strong-arm robbery prior to the shooting. He and a companion were walking in the middle of the street and obstructing traffic and therefore were admonished by a police officer to move to the sidewalk. Brown, who may have been pharmacologically impaired, became belligerent, and the ensuing struggle produced facial trauma and an orbital fracture of the police officer's face. The officer, who may have been dazed by a blow to the cranium severe enough to produce a fracture, attempted to apprehend the assailant, and shots were fired, six of which struck the suspect, resulting in a fatality.

Regardless of one's position on the political spectrum, we can all agree that this was a horrible tragedy and needless discarding of a precious life. How could this have been avoided? Two obvious answers: The officer could have ignored his duty and backed off when it became apparent that his instructions would not be followed, thereby avoiding a confrontation, or Brown could have complied with the officer's instructions, according to his civic duties.

If police officers generally adopted the first solution, chaos would reign supreme in all of our streets. If the populace generally adopted the second solution, there would be even fewer incidents of police violence.

Last year, 100 black males were killed by police in the United States. In the same year, 5,000 blacks were killed by other blacks, the vast majority being males. Could it be that we are erroneously being manipulated into making this incident a racial issue, when, in fact, it is a component of a much larger social issue?

Why are there so many young black men in the streets of America with defiant attitudes that frequently lead to incarceration or death? Could it be that a large number of them grow up without a father figure to teach them how to relate to authority and the meaning of personal responsibility? This is not to say that mothers cannot convey these important social lessons, as mine did. But in too many cases, these young unwed mothers have never themselves been exposed to personal responsibility and self-esteem, and the vicious cycle continues. As a society, we must concentrate on ways to break this tragic cycle that has produced a higher poverty rate in black communities across America with the increasing frustrations that underscore potentially explosive, tinderbox situations, as we have seen in Ferguson.

Once we get the most powerful economic engine the world has ever seen back on track with sensible economic policies, we should devote some of the tax revenues generated to child-care facilities that would allow many of those unwed mothers to get their General Education Development or higher degree and become self-supporting. There are also a number of programs across the nation that offer free classes that teach social and job skills, which would give many of the young men some different options.

We must concentrate on these kinds of programs because we cannot afford to lose large segments of our society to despair and underachievement in an increasingly competitive world. We have a social crisis brewing if we continue down the path we are on now, but we have the power to change our downward course with true compassion that allows people to rise and escape dependency.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book "One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America's Future" (Sentinel). To find out more about Ben Carson and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit




3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... What is Evil? I'm serious. If you have to ask, you will never know.
And it is still a serious question because to me, evil is using words undefined which will never be defined because they are infinites- as though everyone knows the meaning of these words, and takes for granted that they do so.
If you think about love, or God and you try to define these you will define these quasi concepts in a way entirely subjective to you. And the fact that ones quasi definition shares many attributes of ones cultural definition means only that the culture is subjective in its thinking, designing their Gods so to speak, in the image of themselves. Even our desire to humanize God is no less than our anthropomorphising of all of nature. God, or at least a definition of God- is in each of us. The inability to make a worm beside the ability to create Gods is farcial, but the fact that this situation is taken for granted and played upon is one that should end.
To say Evil, is flippant. No primitive believing as a nominalist that the name was the thing would ever invoke death by calling it by name. We use Euphemism. You know when you say Evil, you evoke a certain idea of Evil in the minds of your readers. You say: Coverage engendered by the tantalizing thought that here was a case of racisim indicative of the EVIL in American Society.
Do you think any of us actually feel that way, or is this obviously some crappy little predicate you can toss like the apple of discord because you know your side, the side with not much education or time for knowledge already think it true. Love it or leave it. I am waiting to hear it. How about I love, and you leave. When you level charges like this with absolutely no intention of defending only because your numbskulls take it as God's truth, I think that is certainly evil, my evil, my subjective definition of Evil. Think of the terms in which we are cast. Our coverage was engendered. Is your coverage engendered? Is your coverage engendered by some tantalizing thought? Are you writing an ariticle or a lingerie ad.
What would you think- of any one judging good people known to you as good- as evil? No one thinks they are living in an evil land with evil people, or one, and all would try to escape. Would you stay for mere money, and to have that, would suffer the presence of your definition of EVIL? If you can live with evil, your subjective definition of evil as a reality, then perhaps you may have sold out to the evil long ago.
There are many people not among us, not citizens, not anyone we should normally care much about who think we are collectively evil. There are many who see what this country does, how it is working, or rather, not working who see the immoral damage it does to the environment we all own, and the moral damage that it does to all who contact it, and think these not only specific evils, but particular evils practically defined by example. It is wrong to put this last group in with the former, and that is exacly what you have done, and it is EVIL.
It is misleading slander of whole groups of concerned people who are concerned about some remedy for this obvious and particular problem. It is no blanket indictment of America to say we have a problem with race. Good people all over this land do not have to come up with a worthless judgement of America to realize that in the light of what was once possible for free people we have fallen far short of, precisely because we are not free, and have never been free. We suffer a slave morality that is not moral at all, rather like youself. Like you, many of us find it impossible to relate even with those we should most easily relate to. Do you believe you will not be black, not be seen as black if you take up the white cause and deny your people?
This America is not the place I grew up thinking it was. A lot of people never escape their dream of America long enough to realize their dream is some one else's nightmare. If people are racist they will as often be unconscious of it, and they will not rush to charge anyone acting under racist motive. I do not think there was more at work in the death of this child in Misery than mutual stupidity. Whites killing blacks has a sort of sour taste in some mouths that is sweet to others. Just as you rush to judge the boy, others rush to justify. That is a sign it is time for talk, for compromise, or agreement and understanding. How much nearer are we today with this article?
Right out of the box you spit in the left's face as though the left should expect it. We are tantalized. But not by thoughts of evil, but of resolution. People have a right to their lives. The age of this idiot was obvious. He had done nothing to warrant death besides being black. No one told the officer he was an army of one. No one told him he had to kill the only witness. He made these choices which the blacks and much of the left disagree with. Let's talk this out.
Look at the sexual overtones in your comment about EVIL. I am certain this is as a matter of choice, and I disagree with murdering the language as much as with murdering citizens. I would argue that the right has ever been engaged in an attack against truth because denied truth, the people become slaves. Because I am more conscious of my language, I see when people are actually making an unsupported and unsupportable moral agument in the adjectives they choose. You could have either said out straight what you wanted people to believe for all to reject, or you could slip it in like a small knife in the back that only the initiated would recognize. I understand your choice. What is your motivation?
I get that you are working for them, the people who hate you, and distrust you because you are black. Is it money that has moved you so far from your natural center that you cannot relate even to human objections to murder? The kid had no choice. He had to be an idiot because he was born that way. He had no concept, even a quasi concept of death. The cop must certainly have been aware the the damage and death that come out of a gun. What in hell was the problem with backing off, and taking care of the problem later? Only an absolute ass shoots people, especially those they are sworn to protect and serve when that oath might mean helping rather than executing.
If you want to call the left something nasty you should just come out and do so rather than hiding your opinion inside a garbage predicate. Inside that garbage you can hide your hate while your loyals baaa, and agree. I am asking you to be a man, and not say what you cannot defend.
Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:39 AM
Sweeney, you say "What is Evil? I'm serious. If you have to ask, you will never know."

Sweeney, Sweeney, Sweeney, You asked it (What is evil), and then claim that those who have to ask will never Know. That is an admission that you will never know what evil is, because YOU asked what evil is.

Got that?

So you lost me right there. Carson spends most of this article asking questions. There is no evil in any of his words. It's not like he called Jews evil, the devil, vile, like StevieM did. Did Carson cut off someone's head? No. You are just demonizing an opinion you don't agree with. How charitable of you. How egalitarian of you. How certainly lefty of you, hate and demonize those you consider "in your way".

You asked because it is obvious that you will never know what evil is. Carson isn't evil and you know it. You just don't like his opinion. In Iraq they would chop your head off for disagreeing with them. Is that what you desire for Carson?

You wouldn't know evil if you watched a video of a man getting beheaded.

You had to ask.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Tom
Thu Aug 28, 2014 12:20 PM
Re: Tom;... I do ask, and I will never know; and that is the problem with infinite moral forms; that no matter how many examples we have, all we have is examples and no indisputable definitions. I certainly would not talk of coverage engendered by tantalizing thoughts. This is slander pure and simple, and if it were a single person slandered, they might bring suit, but since the victim is half the population of America, with perhaps not one of them looking at this event and the obvious brutality as indicative of the evil of our society. Who does he think this is, and why would our citizens consider us evil when they are so clearly a part of us.
His is an empty, stupid charge that poisons the conversation before it is even begun. It appeals to the prejudices of idiots, but that is nothing new on the right. How ever you define Evil, subjectively; isn't everyone against it, and if you define America as evil are you not against America? This pleads to the prejudice of fools who confuse the wanting to make America a better place with thinking this place and people are incorrigable. I would bet you a hundred dollars on even odds that you could find far more on the right who have given up on America as irredeemable, who have turned their backs on progress and justice, and have stuck their heads like ostriches in the sands of Christian mythology.
In this land that has little enough in common with the Puritans, one belief they held is shared by many on the left: That to be worthy of heaven, one must make the earth more heavenly. Is there Justice in Heaven? Then there should be so on earth. Do they let murderers of children walk among them beyond the pearly gates? Then why should we accept murderers walking among us just because they act under color of law?
Tom;... I don't mind a little inflamatory language from time to time; but I am a nobody. For these professional nobodies to hide such propaganda under the cover of rational dialogue is rotten bullshet. If you have something to say; then say it. If you have an opinion, defend it. Opening an opinion with a hash of incindiary garbage, and then walking away from that steaming pile like it is some one else's problem is minor league partisanship. It is slander on a grand scale. Think sir, of how much you would enjoy being around your wife if she fought that way, beginning with character assasination, and moving on to irrational nonsense? Is even one part of his predicate true?
Consider his point, that it was the officers duty to kill this young man for not doing his duty. I do not want to judge how well your mind was working at that age by how well it is working today; but it is common knowledge that young people's minds do not work well at all, and like most of us, they are seldom rational. Who was the adult in the room? Where was it written that he had to push this situation to a conclusion without back-up? Which one of these people was armed, and really capable of self defense? It is impossible to say what was on the mind of that over grown child, but until some one has actually been arrested, it is hard for them to know what is expected of them. In my humble experience, that officer with his gun, was the first line of defense of his community, and being armed, it was his duty to defend himself, and to keep his pistol out of the hands of criminals. His defense of self is his defense of us. I am not saying without the facts that this officer was not defending himself, but I know from experience that defense does not always have to be offensive. The inclination on the right to justify before the facts are in and to condemn without the facts is simply to reflexive to the right. I don't get it. Is the only time you on the right like law, and government is when it is executing blacks?
To suggest that it was some how, or way this police officer's duty to kill that kid is false on its face. In an example close to home, and schizsophrenic man was killed by police after he came out of his home that he had just torched, with a knife in hand. The family was madder than hell. Our father, this husband, was sick, and we called the police for help, and not to have him shot and killed. What actual threat was this lunatic to police who were all well armed? I will admit that the police would look more than a little silly with butterfly nets instead of pistols, but if they do not know when one is required more than the other, then they ought to be in the ranks of the civilians.
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:45 PM
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