DAILY SIGNAL: Dr. Ben Carson Diagnoses American Schools’ Greatest Ailment as ‘Loss of Vision’
With the start of a new year, Dr. Ben Carson says he is concerned that America’s schools have lost their vision.
Americans have lost “vision of what education is there for,” says Carson, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development and renowned neurosurgeon.
“Education is there to teach you how to function successfully in a complex society,” he says, “and when you lose sight of that, then you start saying, ‘Oh, we’ve got to concentrate on what kind of pronoun you use, and whether you’re really a girl or a boy, and are you a victim?’”
With the start of the new Congress, Carson says, politicians need to prioritize not only education, but the economy, election integrity, lessening America’s dependence on China, and holding Big Tech accountable.
“If we can put a man on the moon, we can certainly come up with a mechanism that we have open, fair elections that are transparent, that are quick, that we have Election Day, not election season,” he says.
Carson joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss his road map for America’s success in 2023.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: Well, I think there’s no better way to kick off the New Year here at “The Daily Signal Podcast” than by sitting down and talking with the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson, thank you so much for being here today.
Dr. Ben Carson: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.
Allen: Dr. Carson, how do you begin your New Year every year? Do you set any New Year’s resolutions?
Carson: Well, I don’t necessarily do resolutions just on New Year’s. I do resolutions all the time, constantly throughout the year. I’m saying, “I’m not doing that anymore. More of that.” But I think it’s a good time to really stop sometimes and get overall perspective on the direction of your life and the direction of your environment, and whether or not you can make that environment better.
Allen: Absolutely. Dr. Carson, news broke at the end of 2022 that Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine in your hometown of Detroit, that they were going to remove your name from the title of the school.
Now, we all face adversity in our lives. We all face a lot of adversity, but many of us not as publicly, necessarily, as you have. How have you personally dealt with that, of a school who once honored you now saying that they essentially want to cancel you?
Carson: Well, cancel culture is pervasive throughout our society now, and it’s a shame when a school places political ideology above the goal of educating and inspiring students. Obviously, it’s going to be to their detriment. So, it doesn’t particularly bother me, other than the fact that it’s setting a terrible example for the students. And what happens to our society if we reach a point where anybody we disagree with, we try to cancel.
Obviously, that’s not going to be productive, and that’s why Jesus said it and Abraham Lincoln echoed it, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And that certainly seems to be the direction of our country, and I think it requires a lot of attention. It’s not something we can just say, “Oh, that’s a shame. That’s too bad.” We really need to deal with this because the United States is a very strong country and our enemies have known that. In fact, the Marxists wrote about it extensively.
The United States of America, they said, “Is too strong to bring down militarily, but we can bring them down internally by attacking their families and their faith.” And those are the things that are under great attack in our society as we spiral downward. We’re going to have to be smart enough to figure out that we’re being manipulated into believing that we’re each other’s enemies, just because we might think differently. If two people believe the same about everything, one of them isn’t necessary. So, we’ve got to get over this thing about unification of all thought processes and all speech. That’s what you see in totalitarian societies.
Allen: Does this situation at the high school remind you of a situation several years ago where the Southern Poverty Law Center branded you as an extremist?
Carson: That’s the same kind of ideology. If you don’t … Particularly if you’re black, for the left, a black conservative is the only thing that’s worse than Satan. I mean, they just cannot deal with the fact that you can think for yourself and come up with some original thoughts that are actually beneficial, logical, and make sense. But the Southern Poverty Law Center got so much pushback that they quickly rescinded what they did. And I’m sure Detroit school board’s getting a lot of pushback now. I know they are, but whatever they do, they ought to put the education and inspiration of the children first.
Allen: Well, I was encouraged to see that among the students they took a poll, and the students wanted to keep the name the same, which I think is encouraging to see that young people are recognizing what’s really going on here.
Carson: And the young people may be our salvation. It could be that the older people are too far gone. I don’t know. Well, let’s keep working on them, but they may be too far gone.
Allen: Dr. Carson, as you do think about the future of the country and, specifically as we’re headed into 2023, what do you think America needs most right now?
Carson: Well, there are several things that I think are very important that we need to focus on, and I hope the new Congress will focus on these things. All of us as a nation. First of all, the economy. The economy is in horrendous shape, and it’s self-inflicted. It doesn’t have to be in horrendous shape. What we’ve done is, we’ve basically thrown away the keys to our energy independence, and we’ve given them to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin. And that’s why he’s acting in such an aggressive fashion toward Ukraine. And if he can conquer that, that won’t be the last conquest.
We have to recognize that what we do has ramifications. So, we’ve been blessed with tremendous natural energy resources. We’ve learned how to extract them in a very clean way and to utilize them effectively. We used them to become energy independent. We were a net exporter of energy. We had the cleanest air and the cleanest water we’ve ever had since measurements were made, and we threw all that away. Well, of course, that raised the prices and, of everything, particularly things that have to be transported using energy.
And that’s had a dramatic, negative impact upon the average American family. That was not necessary. We’ve also continued with these giveaway programs, which have disincentivized people to work, and the work ethic was one of the real keys to the success of this country. That’s how we went from a bunch of ragtag militiamen to the pinnacle of the world in record time. We had that tremendous work ethic, and we created an environment that encouraged entrepreneurship and innovation. We have regulated those things to the point where it’s easier for people to take their manufacturing offshore now.
And that impacts us. We’re vulnerable now in terms of antibiotics and other medications that are made in China and places where other people can control our destiny. And unless we understand these things and do something about them, they’re destined to come back and to hurt us badly. We know all these things, but are we going to do anything about them?
You look at our southern border. There’s another area that we should be concentrating on, because who knows who’s coming across that border? We know that there are people like the Iranians who want to destroy us. Why wouldn’t they send their operatives to that southern border? Why wouldn’t they be studying the 13 key installations of our power grid into which all the others are hooked into, and be ready to destroy them and knock us back a century and put us at incredible risk.
We know these things, and yet we’re just like, “La, la, la, la.” … Just crazy stuff. And then look at the election system. We need election integrity. We need to really concentrate on that, because half the people in the country don’t believe in the system, and particularly the mail-in ballot. France, and a number of other countries, they abolished mail-in voting. France did it in 1975. They said there was just way too many ways to cheat, and you couldn’t control them.
And if we can put a man on the moon, we can certainly come up with a mechanism that we have open, fair elections that are transparent, that are quick, that we have Election Day, not election season. It doesn’t make any sense to have this early voting and then two or three weeks before the vote something happens that would change people’s votes. I mean, just crazy stuff that’s going on all the time.
And then education, the process of dumbing down our population. You see some of those men-on-the-street interviews sometimes, and they ask them simple questions about our history, or about our civics, or what countries border the United States, and they’ll say, “Florida and Cuba.” I mean it’s incredible stuff.
Allen: That’s discouraging.
Carson: John Adams said that our system was designed for a well-informed and educated populace, and if our people are not well-educated and informed, they become very easy to manipulate. And those who want to fundamentally change our society are certainly into manipulating people. And when we look at some of our inner cities, the schools in our inner cities, that are graduating people who are functionally illiterate and dumbing down our population, which makes them very easy to control and to manipulate, and we’ve got to change that.
When Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to study in 1831, because the Europeans were just fascinated how could this fledgling nation barely 50 years old, be competing with them on every level? One of the things he noted was the emphasis we had on education, and the fact that he could find a mountain man and the guy knew how to read. And the guy could tell him about the Declaration of Independence. That was pretty amazing and not something that you saw in many parts of the world.
And if you look at a high school exit exam, or even a sixth- or eighth-grade exit exam from the turn of the century, 18- to 1900, you’d be amazed at what kids were expected to know, compared to what they know today. So, these are things that I think we really need to be paying attention to.
And then something that really has emerged recently, the collusion between Big Tech and the FBI.
I mean, this really, you want to talk about something that threatens our democracy, and threatens our system, when government begins to collude with the business sector in order to be able to carry out things that it can’t constitutionally carry out itself, now you’re talking about fascism, and you’re talking about the destruction of the freedoms of the people of this country.
And this is very serious. We can’t wink an eye and say, “Yeah, yeah. OK, so who won the game?” I mean, we’ve got to get serious about this.
Allen: Dr. Carson, I want to loop back to some of what you mentioned about education and the state of education in America, because you have recently addressed this in a new book that you wrote called “Crisis in the Classroom.” You’re a doctor. If you were to diagnose what is really the core issue within our education system today, what would it be?
Carson: I would say it would be the loss of vision, of vision of what education is there for. Education is there to teach you how to function successfully in a complex society, and when you lose sight of that, then you start saying, “Oh, we’ve got to concentrate on what kind of pronoun you use, and whether you’re really a girl or a boy, and ‘Are you a victim’? And has somebody created a bad situation for me? Are you one of those bad people who created the bad situation?”
I mean, come on. You can get carried away with all that kind of stuff, or you can make sure that people can read the directions when they buy a new product and understand what it says.
Allen: Well, and when it comes to the role of Congress in all of this, you’ve mentioned so many areas where, in America, we’re struggling, where we need to pick up, really, the slack, and Congress plays a role in that. Now, we know that Republicans, starting today, have control of the House and of course, Democrats have control of the Senate. But in the House, Republicans have now the Oversight Committee. What do you think the role is of the Oversight Committee of Republicans to be holding the Biden administration accountable for some of the things that you’ve mentioned that we’ve seen over the past two years?
Carson: Well, they have to think about why they exist. They exist to make sure that our country is secure, that the people are safe, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And the things that threaten those things are things that they ought to be looking into, seriously.
I mean, just as an example, is the president compromised by China because of some of the things that Hunter Biden and others were involved in? That’s a serious question. That’s not something that you just brush under the rug. Because if the answer is yes, it puts us in great jeopardy. And if the answer is no, it’s good to know that, too, so you can move on. But it can’t be another one of these show trials, sort of like January 6th. It really needs to be something that has serious consequences, if in fact collusion is found. And certainly from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, it sounds like there’s real fire where the smoke is.
Allen: Dr. Carson, after you left the Trump administration, you started the American Cornerstone Institute, and I know that you all are addressing many of the concerns that you have raised today. Share a little bit about the work that you’re doing and what you all plan to do in this coming year in order to keep addressing these issues our nation is facing.
Carson: Well, I kind of thought after the 2020 election I could finally retire, because I failed retirement the first time. But looking at the direction of the country, I realized pretty quickly that I wouldn’t enjoy myself on the golf course, or cruising around the world sipping pina coladas. It wouldn’t be very helpful to me.
So, myself and some of the really outstanding talent that we had at HUD got together to form a think tank/do tank called American Cornerstone, which looked at those key cornerstone principles that allowed us to go from nowhere to the pinnacle of the world in record time. That was not a coincidence. It was because of those pillars like our faith, our Judeo-Christian values, what taught us how to relate to each other, to love your neighbor, not to hate your neighbor, not to cancel your neighbor, not to destroy your neighbor if they have a different yard sign than you do.
Those things are very, very destructive. And then liberty, the thing that people enter this country for from all over the world, this was the beacon of freedom. You could do things without the heavy foot of a government on your neck with all kind of mandates. And we need to make sure that we preserve that, and we need to recognize when our liberties are being threatened. Some people say, for instance, freedom of speech is not being threatened in this country because the government doesn’t keep you from saying things. Well, if Big Tech and the media can cancel you with the compliance of the government, it’s the same as if the government was doing it.
We can’t be asleep at the wheel. We need to be recognizing what’s going on. And also, people say that this is a horrible country that you live in. It’s a systemically racist place. It’s unfair to certain people. It’s caused all the problems in the world for everybody else. I mean, if it was that bad a place, why would all these people be trying to get in here? And when they got in here, why wouldn’t they just call all their friends and relatives and say, “Don’t come here. This is a horrible place.” No, just the opposite is going on. That tells you where the truth lies.
And then the cornerstone of community, the ability to work together, that’s what helped us to grow and to coalesce. We had little communities all over the country, 20 families, 50 families, 100 families, a hundred miles away from anybody else. Not only did they survive, but they thrived, because they knew how to take their various gifts and talents and work together for the good of everyone. It was harvest time, and Mr. Johnson broke his leg, everybody else harvested his crops, no questions asked.
That was a very important part of who we were as a nation. And then the pillar of life, from womb to the tomb, as we’ve lost our respect for life, we’ve become more coarse in our relationships with each other. So, all of our programs concentrate on those pillars. And then we added a pediatric component called Little Patriots, recognizing as the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.” You’ve got to get in there early and lay the foundational seeds.
It was Vladimir Lenin, one of the fathers of Marxism, who said, “Give me your children to teach for four years, and the seed that I sow will never be uprooted.” Well, they realized that. We’ve got to realize it, too. And so our Little Patriots program teaches those four cornerstone principles through various types of lessons.
We have a cartoon series called “Star-Spangled Adventure.” We hired some of the best talent from Disney and other places, who were non-woke, to create these beautiful cartoons that illustrate the lessons, and the workbooks that go with them and the exercises that can be downloaded, so that you learn the good, the bad, and the ugly about who we are, what our principles are, what our history is. And if you look at our history objectively, you’ll see there’s a lot more good than there is bad and ugly. And our children come out and they’re proud. And Littlepatriotslearning.com, you can go and look at it. First question you’ll ask us, “How much does this cost?” It costs absolutely nothing. It’s free of charge.
Not that it isn’t very expensive to produce, but we’ve gotten patriotic Americans to underwrite the program so that we can make it free, because it’s the inoculation to indoctrination. And then we have all kinds of other programs like our Executive Branch for America, also free of charge, which teaches people the fundamentals of how the executive branch of government works, how the president’s office is involved and policymaking and grants, how the various departments work. We have interviews with people who’ve headed up things like the Office of Management and Budget, public liaison, various Cabinet positions, all interviewed, and you can get their perspective.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the interviewer, and it’s really, again, a free tool to get people up to speed with how our government actually works. It’s particularly aimed at college students, congressional staffers, and professionals who decided they might want to go into public service. And this way, they can hit the ground running. They actually know how things work and how to get things done.
Allen: Yeah, those are excellent resources. For anyone listening or watching who wants to check those out. If you just visit americancornerstone.org and then you can click on the Programs tab, there’s a great drop-down [menu] that’ll take you to all of those pages. So many good resources.
Dr. Carson, thank you for your time today. We really appreciate your willingness to join us here at the beginning of the year, and get us all thinking about what our key priorities need to be personally and for the nation as we head into 2023.
Carson: Thank you. It’s been my pleasure. And if we can all just concentrate on the fact that the American people are not each other’s enemies, and let’s not let ourselves be manipulated, the rest of the problems we can solve.
Allen: Dr. Carson, thank you and Happy New Year.
Carson: Happy New Year.
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