There has been no shortage of biographical profiles on Dr. Ben Carson, particularly since the former pediatric neurosurgeon has ranked first in the Republican presidential primary in two recent national polls. But today’s cover story in Newsweek is still a worthwhile read, if only to discover how Carson’s Johns Hopkins colleagues say the media image of Carson the Candidate stacks up against the surgeon they knew.
There are certain aspects of Carson’s remarkable persona that are old news around Hopkins. His rugged individualism, deeply held religious views, and skepticism of mainstream scientific theories have always been in evidence to people he’s worked with, according to the article.
“Ever since I’ve known him, he has been strongly in favor of the individual, individual liberties, individual responsibilities to be the best they can be,” Dr. Donlin Long told Newsweek. Long, who chaired Hopkins’s Department of Neurosurgery from 1973 to 2000, recalled Carson interviewing for a residency position. Long said Carson made sure he would have enough free time to visit inner-city school children and encourage them to strive for success.
Dr. George Jallo, who worked under Carson for 10 years, told Newsweek that Carson’s religious beliefs were always front and center. “He wasn’t afraid to talk about it, and he respected others, so they respected him for that,” Jallo said. “He’d pray with them if they wanted to pray with him.”
Long even defended Carson’s skepticism of mainstream science. “[T]he whole basis of science is questioning the basis of scientific principles,” he said.
It’s only Carson’s bigoted statements that have surprised and confounded his colleagues.
Dr. Henry Brem, director of Hopkins’s neurosurgery department, insisted that Carson has “no prejudice or bias in his own life.” Brem told Newsweek that, as a neurosurgeon, Carson has a history of “break[ing] barriers and bring[ing] people together.”
Long agreed, crediting the doctor’s humility with his “remarkable ability to bring…people together.”
That makes his divisive statements on homosexuality and Islam all the more troubling for Brem, who said the difference between the Carson he knows and the image of Carson on the campaign trail is “hard to explain” and “painful” to him.
The best Brem can figure, Carson winds up “trapped” in statements that don’t reflect his true feelings.
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