Another in an unscheduled series of short commentaries on current events
Setting the stage
Dr. Benjamin Carson ruffled some feathers with his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast a couple of weeks ago. You can’t blame the Left for being ruffled–the speech was a High Right Fastball under the chin. They didn’t like anything he said, and they didn’t like the way he said it. They didn’t like it that President Obama had to sit through it, and they really didn’t like the fact that it was delivered by a black man who had studied and worked and achieved his way up from the worst kind of poverty to become the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.
Some on the Right ignored both the message and the messenger and concentrated on the event, choosing to be offended by the fact that Dr. Carson delivered a ‘political’ message at the prayer breakfast. To mention just one example, Cal Thomas, writing in syndication and online, sniffed that Dr. Carson’s criticisms of the President’s policies had been “inappropriate for the occasion.”
“If Carson wanted to voice his opinion about the president’s policies, he could have done so backstage. Even better, he might have asked for a private meeting with the man.”
He was joined in his opinion by several other Conservatives of repute. Technically, they were right, but that’s the kind of technicality that has been relegating Republicans to ‘back row, right,’ in pictures of important political and news events since Ronald Reagan left the White House.
The inspiring idea I want to point out has nothing to do with the content of Carson’s remarks, accomplishments, or his life, inspiring as they were and are. His inspiration was to do just what Thomas and the entire Left say he shouldn’t have done–use an ‘inappropriate’ venue to deliver a conservative message.
I’ve beaten this dead horse into glue before: If nobody hears our message, we might as well not have one. We must make our statements in ways and places that can’t be ignored or marginalized. Had Dr. Carson followed Cal Thomas’ advice, nobody would have known about it. More important, nobody else would have heard his conservative ideas.
I may be wrong, but I’d bet that Dr. Carson has given the same speech to local groups before, yet nobody knows it. If you Google search for ‘dr benjamin carson,’ you get about 12 million hits. Of those, about 5.5 million are references to his speech at the breakfast. Draw your own conclusions, but I believe there are a lot of people who now know not only who he is, but what he said that morning and that there is more to the story than simply what the President and all his men tell us.
Further, millions more heard him and heard about him on television and radio, and had a chance to hear his message without a media filter. Perhaps even more important, millions of people heard or saw a non-political, highly educated, brilliant and talented professional black civilian deliver a speech promoting conservative values in a reasonable and thoughtful manner, and he didn’t grow horns or fangs, and after it was all over the MSM didn’t even try to rebut his words or reasoning, only his location. None of that would have happened had he chosen an ‘appropriate’ venue for his presentation.
The end justifies the means
Most conservatives don’t like that phrase and we tend to oppose the idea, but it really depends on how distasteful the means are and how vital the end is. Dr. Carson balanced the two and delivered a speech that may have broken some rules but which was covered by most of the popular press, and the only spin they could generate was that it was “inappropriate for the occasion.”
I don’t suggest that Dr. Carson had any of these strategies in mind. There’s no reason to believe he did anything other than deliver a speech that he thought was completely apropos, and he says so.
Whether he intended to make two kinds of statements that morning or not, he gave us an example that should be inspiring to Republicans, conservative or not. Get your message ready and when you deliver it, make it count by forcing the the MSM to both report it and report it accurately. The truth is always appropriate, but if it’s spoken in a manner, time, and place that the MSM is forced to report it, it’s even better.
Needed next: Ways to make this happen every week.
For another take on the Cal Thomas column, check out Chicks On The Right.