I find the controversy surrounding Dr. Regina Benjamin one of the most depressing in memory. She is the southern doctor chosen by President Obama to be the surgeon general. She sets up medical clinics for the poor, etc. She is an example of the humanitarian in medicine. And what they’re saying — they, the controversy-makers — is that she’s too fat to be the surgeon general. She will set a bad example. What idiocy, what stupidity…
… In preparing to write about this, I was looking at a news article, which had a photo of Dr. Benjamin. And I thought, “Hang on, I think I know this person.” I had forgotten her name. I had not forgotten her act. Some years ago, I was at a large conference, dominated by liberals. I was one of the handful of conservatives there. And, at a big plenary session, I made some statements about race: I said I thought the country was too soaked in race; that we could use a rest from race; that race-consciousness was killing us; that separate graduation ceremonies, and separate proms and so on, were heartbreaking and wrong; that we should not give up on the integrationist ideal; that we should cling to E pluribus unum; that we should not be black and white but Americans and human beings; etc. You know: my usual anti-racialist spiel.
These remarks fell pretty flat, I figured. And, when the session was over, I made a beeline out of the hall. And as I was leaving — racing — someone was chasing after me. Running, I think — in high heels, I think. It was a woman, and one of the few blacks in attendance. When I turned to greet her — not knowing what was coming — she said, “I just wanted to thank you. That was great. It really needed to be said.” Do you think I was touched?
And I realized, looking at the news article, that this was Dr. Regina Benjamin.