Ben Carson: America must be virtuous to remain free

Dr. Ben Carson began — and ended — his speech on the evening of June 27 by referencing a quote attributed to the French political thinker and historian Alex de Tocqueville.

“America is great because she is good,” de Tocqueville said. “If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Spring boarding off that sentiment, Carson encouraged an audience of 700 at a fundraiser for Upper Room Christian Academy (lead by John Amanchukwu) to defend and renew virtue, civil discourse, and the free-market economy in the United States.

“Let us seize the opportunity to truly be good, so that we can hand off to our progeny a great nation,” Carson said.

Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, wowed the crowd gathered at the Raleigh Convention Center in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina.

The speech was the headline event for the URCA’s scholarship fundraiser, which generated $250,000 toward giving low-income students an opportunity to attend the private school in southeast Raleigh.

Carson leapt to conservative rock-star status in February 2013 at the National Prayer Breakfast. He advocated conservative policies and Christian values with President Barack Obama sitting just feet away. Many have floated Carson’s name as a potential presidential candidate in 2016.


A free society

During his speech last week, Carson criticized class warfare and big government and encouraged individual generosity in creating a free and vibrant society.

“Class warfare is the last thing that should be going on in America,” he said.

America was unique in the 18th and 19th centuries, Carson said, because it didn’t follow the pattern of Europe, where wealthy land barons hoarded wealth and passed it down from generation to generation. Instead, the wealthy in the United States created infrastructure, businesses, and jobs.

“That led to the most vibrant middle class the world had ever seen that propelled us to the pinnacle of the world,” Carson said.

A big part of that has been individual generosity. “Our founders understood that giving was the responsibility of the people, not the responsibility of government.”

“We are a generous people,” he said. “We are our brother’s keeper. We do have a responsibility to those around us. People have never starved on the streets of America because we have always taken care of our people and we always will.”


A compelling story

Carson was born in Detroit and raised by a single mother. Despite struggling to rear her two boys in a crime- and poverty-ridden area, Carson’s mother never became bitter.

“She never became a victim. She never felt sorry for herself,” Carson said. “What a difference it makes when you have a mindset of solving problems rather than blaming other people.”

As he grew older, Carson wanted to be a psychiatrist. But later, he changed his mind in favor of neurosurgery. At the age of 33, he became the youngest major division director in the history of Johns Hopkins.

He encouraged young people to pursue what they love and underscored the need for more interest in the hard sciences

“We ought to encourage our young people when they go to college to go for the hard core stuff — physics, engineering,” he said. “We have to prepare for the age of technology. Sometimes it seems harsh, but we have to deal with the realities of the times in which we live if we want to maintain our pinnacle status in the world.”