For the fourth time this week, Ben Carson finds himself embroiled in controversy. This time, he’s in trouble with the Left for declaring that, “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.” Before that, he caught flack for saying that people should rush mass shooters, that the loss of constitutional liberties is “more devastating” than a body with bullet wounds, and that not “every lifestyle is exactly of the same value.”
The list could go on — Carson has been touching off such online tempests for months.
Each time, the pattern is the same: Carson expresses his opinion — typically grounded in common sense and widely shared by the American people — the media declares that some people are “offended,” and he doubles down, restating his position again and again in the same calm, even tone.
Here he is, for example, addressing his comments about the Oregon shooting:
The media and the Left loudly proclaim that his remarks are “offensive” so as to avoid addressing his points. Does anyone really think that it would have been just as easy to oppress Jews in Germany and elsewhere if they’d been heavily armed? After years of watching mass shooters gun down innocent victims sheltering in place, do people really think it would be worse to rush the gunmen? Is anyone arguing that children from intact, mother-father households don’t do substantially better than those from broken homes?
#share#Carson’s response to the howls of the PC left is the right one: We’ll call it “apathetic conviction.” He’s not outraged by the outrage; he simply doesn’t care. The outrage bores him. And no response is better calculated to rob critics of their power than boredom. You’re offended by my comments? I’m trending on Twitter? Wake me when the shame-storm is over, and then let’s debate my arguments on their substance.
This is what sets him apart from Donald Trump. While Trump claims to disdain political correctness, he often tries to deploy it as a weapon against his opponents, demanding apologies and terminations when he feels offended:
People have been forced to resign positions for far less than @JonahNRO’s “tweeting like a 14 year old girl”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2015
#related#This isn’t escaping political correctness; it’s reinforcing outrage culture with more outrage. Both Carson and Trump are connecting with voters who are tired of cautious politicians, of “leaders” who head for the hills in the face of controversy. But Carson’s way is the better way, the way best calculated to not only drain the outrage merchants of their power but also to change hearts and minds. No wonder he has the highest favorability rating in the GOP field, and remains the only Republican candidate to consistently outpoll Hillary Clinton.
The Carson approach is replicable. Few people have the temperament or desire to follow the Trump model of answering shouts with more shouts. We can, however, ignore the outrage and articulate our convictions.
If a social-justice warrior screams on Twitter, and no one is there to hear him, does he make a sound?
— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.