Ben Carson, retired pediatric neurosurgeon and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, rejected the claim made by the Rev. Jesse Jackson that the Michael Brown shooting and ensuing protests in Ferguson, Missouri, highlight an extreme racial disparity for blacks in America during a debate on "Fox News Sunday."
Carson, 62, argued that the killing of black citizens by police use-of-force and high arrest rates among African-Americans are simply issues of the environment and the way in which kids are raised, having nothing to do with the color of their skin.
"If you take race out of the issue all together and you take a group of young men and you raise them with no respect for authority, not learning to take on personal responsibility, having easy access to drugs and alcohol, they are very likely to end up as victims of violence and incarceration," Carson asserted. "Has nothing to do with race."
During the exchange, Jackson focused on the pattern of killings and how the "killers" are able to walk free. Jackson argues that the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 is only the latest in a line of many infamous police shootings and use-of-force incidents in the last few years where the officers were able to escape unpunished.
"It seems to me that when blacks kill whites, which is rare, there is swift justice. When whites kill blacks, and black on black, its a shrug of the shoulders and permissiveness," Jackson said.
Despite some reports that Brown had attacked and charged Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, Jackson believes his shooting was unwarranted. He also believes that when it comes to black assailants, police are too quick to act rather than acting upon justice.
"It seems to me that police act as judge, jury and executioner," Jackson said. "What I do know is that he was shot unarmed and shot six times and its a pattern. Whether it was the killing of Trayvon Martin, and the killer walked away free. The killing of [Amadou] Diallo in New York, shot 41 times by police, they walked away free. The Oscar Grant case in Oakland, or the case of Rodney King in L.A. At some point, we require and need to have a sense of justice."
Carson said he feels that protesters in Furgeson are focusing on the wrong issues. The black conservative leader pointed out that about half of all murders in America are committed by African-Americans; 91 percent of all black homicides are committed by other blacks. Also, murder by young African Americans is 14 times more likely than that of young Caucasians. The issue, Carson argues, is how young African Americans learn to handle their anger.
Carson drew on his own childhood experience: "I've seen a lot more situations where the police saved the situation. I'm not sure this is a police verses black community issue. As a youngster, I had anger problems also. But for the grace of God, I wouldn't be talking to you today. I tried to stab another youngster with a knife. Anger issues get in the way."
While those that concur with Jackson about racial policing will point out that of the 53 membered Ferguson police force, only three are black cops, Carson sees that issue as being one that questions the involvement of African-Americans in their own community.
"People in Ferguson and in all the cities need to get more involved in the process," Carson said. "What percentage of the people in Ferguson voted in the last statewide election? I think you will find that it was less than 20 percent of the black community. We need to get people involved in what's going [on]. Without question, that will make a huge difference in what goes on."
Although Jackson maintained his position that "there is a culture of racial harassment of black people," citing that African Americans have three times higher unemployment rate and are number one in shortened life expectancy and in mortality rate, his point may be seen as supporting Carson's arguent, that African-Americans need to take better personal responsibility.
"As a young person, the thing that changed me was my mother made me read books. I read books about people and accomplishment. And, what I came to understand is that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you in life is you," Carson said. "It's not the environment. Its not somebody else. Do those things play a role? They do. If you want to focus on them, you can have a life that is completely controlled by others. You can take control of your own life."
Although Jackson and Carson had differing views on the issue in Ferguson, Carson said they both, ultimately, want the same result.
"We want people to move up in our environment and not to be satisfied and not to be dependent," Carson said.