Carson speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013.
|Born||Benjamin Solomon Carson
September 18, 1951
Detroit, Michigan, United States
|Institutions||Johns Hopkins Hospital|
|Alma mater||Yale University
University of Michigan Medical School
|Known for||Separation of conjoined twins
|Notable awards||Presidential Medal of Freedom (2008)|
|Spouse||Lacena Rustin (m. 1975)|
|Children||Murray; Benjamin, Jr.; Rhoeyce|
Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson, Sr., (born September 18, 1951) is a columnist and retired neurosurgeon. He is credited with being the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head. In 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. After delivering a widely publicized speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, he became a popular figure in conservative media for his views on social issues and the federal government.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Medical career
- 3 Writer
- 4 Political affiliation, activities and views
- 5 Carson Scholars Fund
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Carson was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Sonya (née Copeland), a Seventh-day Adventist; and Robert Solomon Carson, a Baptist Minister. His parents were both from rural Georgia. At 8, his parents divorced and he and his 10-year-old brother, Curtis, were raised by their mother. He attended Southwestern High School in Southwest Detroit, and graduated from Yale University, where he majored in psychology. He received his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School.
Carson was a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics, and he was the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. At age 33, he became the youngest major division director in Johns Hopkins history, as director of pediatric neurosurgery. He was also a co-director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center.
According to Johns Hopkins Hospital literature, "Dr. Carson focuses on traumatic brain injuries, brain and spinal cord tumors, achondroplasia, neurological and congenital disorders, craniosynostosis, epilepsy, and trigeminal neuralgia. He is also interested in maximizing the intellectual potential of every child."
Carson believes his hand-eye coordination and three-dimensional reasoning skills made him a gifted surgeon. After medical school, he became a neurosurgery resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Starting off as an adult neurosurgeon, Carson became more interested in pediatrics. He believed that with children, "what you see is what you get, ... when they're in pain they clearly show it with a frown on their face or when they are happy they show it by smiling brightly. "
In 1987, Carson successfully separated conjoined twins, the Binder twins, who had been joined at the back of the head, making them craniopagus twins. The 70-member surgical team, led by Carson, worked for 22 hours. At the end, the twins were successfully separated and can now survive independently. As Carson wrote in his book:
|“||...they would always exsanguinate. They would bleed to death, and I said, 'There's got to be a way around that... I was talking to a friend of mine, who was a cardiothoracic surgeon, who was the chief of the division, and I said, 'You guys operate on the heart in babies, how do you keep them from exsanguinating' and he says, 'Well, we put them in hypothermic arrest.' I said, 'Is there any reason that – if we were doing a set of Siamese twins that were joined at the head – that we couldn't put them into hypothermic arrest, at the appropriate time, when we're likely to lose a lot of blood?' and he said, 'No way.' ...two months later, along came these doctors from Germany, presenting this case of Siamese twins. And, I was asked for my opinion, and I then began to explain the techniques that should be used, and how we would incorporate hypothermic arrest... And, my colleagues and I, a few of us went over to Germany. We looked at the twins. We actually put in scalp expanders, and five months later we brought them over and did the operation, and lo and behold, it worked.||”|
Carson figured in the revival of the hemispherectomy, a drastic surgical procedure in which part or all of one hemisphere of the brain is removed to control severe pediatric epilepsy. He refined the procedure in the 1980s, encouraged by Dr. John M. Freeman, and performed it many times.
In March 2013, Carson announced he would retire as a surgeon, stating "I'd much rather quit when I'm at the top of my game, and there's so many more things that can be done." His retirement became official on July 1, with Carson saying he would leave the decision of whether to go into politics "in the hands of God, but much can be done outside the political arena." 
Awards and honors
Carson is a member of the American Academy of Achievement, and the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. In 2000, he received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards. In 2008, the White House awarded Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. In 2010, he was elected into the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine. Carson has been awarded 38 honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations.
Carson has written six bestselling books published by Zondervan, an international Christian media and publishing company: Gifted Hands, Think Big, The Big Picture, Take the Risk, and America the Beautiful, and One Nation. The first book is an autobiography, and two are about his personal philosophies of success that incorporate hard work and a faith in God.
Carson's book titled Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story was released by Zondervan in 1992. A separate television movie with the same title premiered on TNT on February 7, 2009, with Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the lead role and Kimberly Elise portraying his mother.
Political affiliation, activities and views
Carson has said he is not a member of any political party. "If I were part of one, it would be called the 'Logic party', and it would be dedicated to commonsense approaches we all should be able to see." In his book America the Beautiful, Carson explained why he decided to get involved in politics: "I believe it is a very good idea for physicians, scientists, engineers, and others trained to make decisions based on facts and empirical data to get involved in the political arena and help guide our country." He also said, "… we [physicians] should be concerned not only about the health of individual patients, but also about the health of our entire society." Despite largely expressing conservative viewpoints, Carson has also expressed some views at odds with most conservatives, such as supporting banning semi-automatic weapons in large cities. He has also stated, "There’s a reason for the Second Amendment; people do have the right to have weapons."
Carson was the keynote speaker at the February 7, 2013, National Prayer Breakfast. During his speech, Carson commented on several social and fiscal issues including political correctness, education, the national debt, health care and taxation. On political correctness (PC), Carson remarked: "PC is dangerous, because you see, this country, one of the founding principles was freedom of thought and freedom of expression. And it [PC] muffles people. It puts a muzzle on them." On education, he compared current graduation rates with those 200 years ago: "In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville came to our country ... anybody finishing the second grade was completely literate." About healthcare: "Here's my solution. When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record and a health savings account, to which money can be contributed, pre-tax from the time you are born, to the time you die. When you die, you can pass it on to your family members." Carson spoke favorably of the flat tax system, which he prefers to call the "Proportional Tax" based on the biblical principle of the tithe.
The speech was magnified because Carson's views were generally interpreted to be politically conservative, and President Barack Obama was sitting ten feet away. Conservative commentators from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity and Neil Cavuto of Fox News praised the speech as speaking "truth to power." The Wall Street Journal had an op-ed titled "Ben Carson for President," which stated that Carson "may not be politically correct, but he's closer to correct than we've heard in years." Columnist Star Parker wrote in a column that "Ben Carson owes no apology for honest talk." Fox News contributor Cal Thomas, however, opined that Carson's remarks were inappropriate for the event and that he should apologize to President Obama. Liberal Fox News pundit Bob Beckel also found Carson's remarks inappropriate for the event, calling them "extreme right-wing talking points."
In an interview with Neil Cavuto, Carson defended himself by saying, "Somebody has to be courageous enough to stand up to the bullies." Carson appeared on the Fox News program Hannity on Friday, February 8, and was asked about a possible run for the White House. Carson responded: "If the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it, I would."
After the National Prayer Breakfast speech, Carson told ABC News: "I don't think it was particularly political... You know, I'm a physician. I like to diagnose things. And, you know, I've diagnosed some pretty, pretty significant issues that I think a lot of people resonate with." Regarding the policies of President Obama, he said: "There are a number of policies that I don't believe lead to the growth of our nation and don't lead to the elevation of our nation. I don't want to sit here and say all of his policies are bad. What I would like to see more often in this nation is an open and intelligent conversation, not people just casting aspersions at each other."
Writing in National Review, Jonah Goldberg compared Carson to legendary African-American leader Booker T. Washington. Meanwhile, in The Atlantic, David Graham compared Carson to Herman Cain without the "personal skeletons."
Following his sudden popularity among conservatives, Carson was a featured speaker at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on March 16, 2013 and finished tied for seventh in the Washington Times/CPAC 2013 Straw Poll with 4% of the 3,000 ballots cast. In the 2014 CPAC straw poll, he performed even better by coming in third place with 9%, behind Senators Ted Cruz of Texas (with 11%) and Rand Paul of Kentucky (with 31%). In April 2014, FoxNews reported that a SuperPAC called RunBenRun had raised $4 million in campaign contributions for a potential presidential campaign.
Views on marriage and evolution
Carson described his opposition to same-sex marriage on Hannity, saying: "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition." Carson's comments drew criticism for apparently lumping together gays with pedophiles and practitioners of bestiality, and a group of Hopkins students circulated a petition asking that Carson be replaced as the university's commencement speaker.
Carson told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that his comments were "completely taken out of context and completely misunderstood," and also asserted on CNN's "The Situation Room" that he loves all people, whether gay or straight. Carson withdrew as Hopkins's commencement speaker and apologized for the remarks, saying that "the examples were not the best choice of words, and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone," adding that the Bible "says we have an obligation to love our fellow man as ourselves, and I love everybody the same—all homosexuals." Carson also said, "I certainly believe gay people should have all the rights anyone else has. I was trying to say that as far as marriage was concerned, it has traditionally been between a man and a woman and no one should be able to change that."
Carson's views on evolution and creationism have also generated controversy. In a 2006 debate with Richard Dawkins, Francis Collins, and Daniel Dennett, Carson stated: "I don't believe in evolution .... I simply don’t have enough faith to believe that something as complex as our ability to rationalize, think, and plan, and have a moral sense of what’s right and wrong, just appeared." In 2012, nearly 500 professors, students and alumni of Emory University wrote a letter expressing concern about Carson's views in advance of his commencement speech, although no request was made to rescind Carson's invitation. In particular, they cited his quote in an Adventist Review interview where he said, "By believing we are the product of random acts, we eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior." Carson responded by clarifying his views, saying, "People who believe in survival of the fittest might have more difficulty deriving where their ethics come from. A lot of evolutionists are very ethical people."
Criticism of Affordable Care Act
On October 11, 2013, Carson spoke at the conservative Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., where he called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery." In his speech, Carson claimed that the entire push for the legislation originated with Vladimir Lenin and quoted Lenin as saying that "socialized medicine is the keystone to the establishment of a socialist state". (Lenin did not actually say this, although the purported quote appears on a number of conservative websites).) After being criticised for his comments, Carson wrote a Washington Times editorial on October 15 denying that he was "equating Obamacare with slavery" and criticizing the "PC police" for attempting "to discredit and … silence" him. Carson also acknowledged that there was controversy over whether Lenin used the "exact words" quoted and said that "the larger point is that [Lenin] and his followers certainly subscribed to the philosophy symbolized by these words."
Presidential draft effort
Carson's rise in the conservative movement and talks of a possible presidential run in 2016 have inspired a national movement to draft Carson for a presidential run for the Republican nomination, employing the catchphrase "Run, Ben, Run." The official organization is called the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, founded by John Philip Sousa IV. The movement has been following Carson's activities and presidential ambitions, and citing his performance in major polls of conservative candidates, particularly an online poll in February 2014 of 62,000 conservative activists, where Carson came in third with 77% (behind Rand Paul's 80% and Ted Cruz's 84%). It has also served as the primary fundraiser for a potential campaign, with Sousa reporting on April 12 that the movement had raised over $4 million, and that a potential campaign apparatus, from television ads to mailing lists, had already been set up.
Carson Scholars Fund
Carson and his wife started the Carson Scholars Fund in 1994, which gives scholarships to students in grades 4–11 for "academic excellence and humanitarian qualities." The fund began after they read a research study which said that out of 22 countries, the United States was next to last at #21 regarding science and math. Also, they noticed that many school display cases contained trophies rewarding the success of their sports teams, "while honor students only received a pin or certificate." Those who succeed are given "a $1,000 scholarship to be invested toward their college education, along with a recognition package, and an invitation to attend an awards banquet." The fund reports "five thousand seven hundred scholarships and counting."
Carson and his wife Lacena "Candy" Rustin met in 1971 as students at Yale University. They married in 1975 and have three sons: Ben, Jr.; Rhoeyce; and Murray. They are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- (2014) "One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future", Sentinel HC Publishing. ISBN 978-1595231123
- (2011) America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great, Zondervan Publishing. ISBN 978-0-310-33071-4
- (2009) Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Zondervan Publishing. ISBN 0-310-21469-6
- (2008) Take The Risk, Zondervan Publishing. ISBN 0-310-25973-8
- (2000) The Big Picture, Zondervan Publishing. ISBN 978-0-310-22583-6
- (1996) Think Big, Zondervan Publishing. ISBN 0-310-21459-9
- (1990) Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Review & Herald Pub., ISBN 0-8280-0669-5
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ben Carson.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Ben Carson|
- Dr. Benjamin Carson, from Johns Hopkins University website
- Carson's Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on YouTube from February 7, 2013
- Ben Carson interviewed on Conversations from Penn State
- In Depth interview with Carson, August 4, 2013