Ben Carson, Christian neurosurgeon, endorses torture

We all turned off our TV’s Thursday evening after a strange but entertaining two hours with 10 people we had never met before but who were seriously presenting themselves as wise and experienced administrators, diplomats, leaders. Donald Trump seems to have dominated the campaign, the debate and the commentaries on the debate: his bad manners, his ego, his sexism, his admission that he has distributed cash to most of the other candidates on the stage and just about everyone in public life who was in a position to do him a favor—easily translated as “I bought them.”

But I felt strongly about only one other person on the stage: Ben Carson, M.D., the retired brain surgeon. Somehow the notion of a brain surgeon calls up awe, respect, judgment, someone of rare sensitivity. But it took only a few seconds, his answer to one question, to blow that awe all away. Megyn Kelly asked him if he would bring back water boarding. And he replied:


What we do in order to get information we need is our business and I wouldn’t necessarily be broadcasting to everybody what we’re going to do.... We’ve gotten into this mindset of fighting politically correct wars.... If we don’t tie [the generals’] hands behind their backs, they will [fight wars] extremely effectively.

In other words, limiting what we can do to captives if we want some information is no more than “political correctness,” a question of taste not morality. The end justifies the means. Outlawing stringing someone up naked and beating him is simply “tying the generals hands behind their backs.” Somewhere along the line his college and medical education never told him that all torture is against international law, water-boarding is not simply a question of taste, it’s against the law. Obviously he has not studied the literature on torture nor has he read the journalism on the Senate Report.

In an interview in The Christian Post (August 10, 2015) he explains how he became a Christian. As a teenager in Detroit he became angry about living in poverty and thought he would die young. The turning point came when he spent three hours locked in the bathroom one day and got to read Proverbs. He emerged cured, his temper was gone. He was also inspired by the story of Joseph in the Old Testament.

I too love the story of Joseph, which is above all a story of forgiveness; and I can’t imagine Joseph torturing anyone or allowing anyone else to do so.

Asked by the Christian Post about his lack of political experience he said that it was a “tremendous aid”—because he had other experience solving problems particularly in corporate America. He also spoke about his time at Yale when he feared failing the Chemistry exam; he prayed to God for help. The night before the exam he dreamed that he was alone in an auditorium and a “nebulous figure” appeared and wrote out all the chemistry problems on the blackboard. The next morning he went to the exam and there they were, the very same problems that had been solved in his dream. He “aced” the exam and promised God He would never have to do that for him again.

He should ask God to tell him what it means to torture another human being.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Bruce Snowden
4 years 4 months ago
I understand torture to be the inflicting of pain on another person, sometimes self, so as to achieve a beneficial result, deliberately wanted, or unwanted, individually, or collectively. Suggested examples may include, (1) pain felt during or following surgery, (2) pain experienced during or after medical inoculation. (2) pain willingly inflicted, individually or as a team, so as to excel in some sport such as boxing, or any other, religiously or secularly rooted. Theologically, what about the Doctrines of Hell and Purgatory, where pain however experienced, is inflicted by reason of personal misconduct, and personal choice, a choice ratified by God ? Are those two Doctrines violations of human rights? Of course I do not believe in torture for the sake of torture and would prefer to see it never used. However, I find it difficult to say that in all cases it may never be used, always of course in a benign and controlled way, in the interests of the common good. Having said this I find myself asking, who determines the common good? I do tend to agree with Dr. Ben Carson, a man well acquainted with the inflicting of pain on a fellow human being so as to achieve a beneficial result. Perhaps this is gross over-simplification on my part. One thing I feel certain about is the following. The reason for Mr. Trump’s “winning ways” despite his coarse behaviors is because Americans are so fed up with the Obama Administration’s emasculation of Uncle Sam that they are looking for someone to replace his lost “Family Jewels!" Trump knows, “he who yells loudest gets heard!” For me however, I’ll vote for Dr. Carson as the best one to “doctor” Uncle San back to good health through de-emasculation! Joking? Yeah … but maybe not!
Chris Miller
4 years 3 months ago
Bruce: Part of the problem of torture is that the one having the pain inflicted sees no positive benefits. I can tolerate surgery, because it fixes my bad knee or cures my cancer. For the one being tortured, they are merely a victim. They have no say about what happens...they may not even have the information desired, and they have no method of getting it to stop. So the victims will say ANYTHING that might make it stop. Waterboarding, some people will tell you, is not torture, because we put our own pilots through it in SERE school. But what our pilots go through is NOTHING like the waterboarding inflicted on those prisoners we put through it. In SERE school, the students know that 1. They are among friends, and those running the drill will not allow the process to get beyond strict limits. 2. THEY Are in control, because they have a duress signal that will immediately stop the process. The victim subjected to waterboarding in our black sites have no safeguards: They may not know where they are; their families don't know where they are, either, and thus, they are totally defenseless. They have no duress signal that will get them out of the situation. If they talk, they may get a brief break, but it may continue. One of the prisoners we waterboarded was waterboarded dozens of time in one night. Are you honestly trying to say that is not torture? You are having water forced down your throat; you literally feel like you are being drowned. They may allow you to vomit it all up; and then they do it again...and again. How many times in one night does waterboarding have to be inflicted before the prisoner hits total despair. (It's not 50 or more!) You put your argument in the context of a beneficient good. But the most common justification is the one of very short time; a la "24". But there is no way that anyone can count on a prisoner yielding operable intelligence that can be found within a few hours or a couple of days. Given that the prisoner will make up stories..say get the torture to stop, I guarantee that you can send any number of agents on wild goose stories throughout NYC that you won't find it in time. Then what? Pr Chris CDR, USN (Ret) - ret. intelligence officer


The latest from america

What is Peter's Pence and how is it used?
Colleen DulleDecember 12, 2019
The Psalms lengthen the moment, enlarge the experience and connect a private experience to those of other human beings. Wonder fades if we do not “back it up.”
Richard J. CliffordDecember 12, 2019
Dwight Eisenhower has risen in the rankings of presidents, writes Paul D. McNelis, S.J., and his ability to combine bold initiatives with fiscal discipline is needed today.
Paul D. McNelis, S.J.December 12, 2019
Join us as we offer daily scripture reflections for the entire Advent season.
Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 12, 2019