5 Nov 2015

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Ben Carson Is Terrible for Black Americans | when an elected leader ignores testimony from 97% of the world’s experts, renowned physicists and the CDC, we have to question his decision-making abilities.

TIME columnist Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time NBA champion and league Most Valuable Player. He is also a celebrated author, filmmaker and education ambassador.  
Now that Ben Carson is the leading GOP candidate, the doctor is under a lot more pressure, not just as a candidate, but as a representative of African Americans. The lifelong burden of a minority is that they feel as if everything they do or say reflects not just on their own character, but also on how the rest of their group will be judged by the ruling majority. Jon Stewart satirized this truth on The Daily Show with “Is This Good for the Jews?” in which he assessed how news about prominent Jewish people reflected on all Jews.
Would President Ben Carson be good for African Americans?
Ben Carson is good for African Americans in that he is a deeply moral man who has done much good as a physician and now wants to upsize his good-doing on a national and global scale. His success story is the stuff the American Dream is made of and is motivation for others to follow his path. His accomplishments as a medical doctor are admirable and serve as an inspiration for young black men and women seeking a career in science. His measured, even groggy demeanor, commands attention and respect. Had he decided to dedicate his post-retirement life to promoting STEM education across the country, he would have been a model for the American ideal that anything is possible.
However, he chose to run for president of the U.S., and that’s bad for African-Americans. His repressive, muddled and pious policies and opinions often run against our Constitution—but his questionable proposals will likely, thankfully, be doomed by his lack of political expertise. His presidency would be marked by even worse gridlock while he wastes his time trying to impose his narrow and sometimes ill-informed morality on the other 319 million people in the nation. And it would definitely not be good for African Americans to have a president who flounders helplessly in office because it would perpetuate the stereotype that blacks can’t be effective CEOs, quarterbacks and leaders.
Although Carson is a celebrated physician, he has expressed several opinions that are contrary to scientific evidence and therefore call into question his logic—a quality crucial in a president. His claim that sexual orientation is a choice is remarkably unscientific. He has argued that “a lot of people” in prison change their sexual orientation. As many people have pointed out, sexual behavior is not the same as orientation. Plus, studies indicate the most significant causes of sexual orientation are genetics and in utero hormonal exposure. According to the American Psychological Association, “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” For a physician to ignore the preponderance of scientific proof in favor of his own religious beliefs is dangerous because is it justifies enacting laws that restrict human and civil rights. Carson has since apologized, but we should never forget that pseudo-science was used to prove blacks were physically and mentally inferior to whites and to justify slavery.
But Carson’s opposition to science doesn’t stop there. Global climate change is a major issue affecting the future of human life. International conferences take place in order to determine how quickly this process is proceeding, and studies show that 97% of actively publishing climate scientists conclude human activity has caused climate warming. Yet Carson says he has not seen “overwhelming science” that proves climate change is manmade. This head-in-the-sand approach could prove disastrous to the country’s survival, never mind the Earth’s. This comes on the heel of hisrefutation of the Big Bang theory based on the second law of thermodynamics; physicists responded by explaining that Carson misunderstood and misstated the actual law. His judgment as a man of science was also compromised last February when he blamed an outbreak of measles on illegal immigrants from South and Central America; the Centers for Disease Control concluded that the strains were genetically similar to those found in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Further, there was no way of knowing whether it came from an immigrant, legal or not, or from Americans traveling abroad or even just from here.

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