The Time Dr. Ben Carson Knifed Someone

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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The first person ever to go under Dr. Ben Carson’s knife … was stabbed by him in school.

That’s right, the famed pediatric neurosurgeon, turned conservative commentator, once tried to knife a classmate. And that’s just one of the surprising stories recounted in Carson’s new book, One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future.

Though he has talked about it before, in his new book, Carson recalls how he was minding his own business when “a classmate came along and began to ridicule me. I had a large camping knife in my hand and without thinking,” he writes, “I lunged at him, plunging the knife into his abdomen.”

During a recent conversation, Carson talked with me about the incident, and how it radically changed his life:

I had real anger issues. I would just fly off the handle and really become quite irrational and try to hurt people with baseball bats, hammers, whatever. In this particular case, I happened to have a large camping knife. And, you know, one of my friends angered me. And I just lunged at his abdomen with the knife. Probably would have seriously injured or killed him, but he happened to have on a large metal belt buckle under his clothing, upon which the blade broke.


And, of course, he fled in terror. But I was more horrified than he was, because I realized that I was trying to kill somebody over nothing — and that I would never realize my dreams of becoming a physician. And I would end up in jail, reform school, or the grave. And I just locked myself in the bathroom and started praying …

When I noted that his life could have turned out dramatically different — that he could have ended up in jail instead of becoming a doctor who helped people, Carson noted: “It’s very ironic. What could have ended a life for me, ended up being what gave life to thousands…a scalpel.”

Aside from the stabbing incident, One Nation is also interesting because it often contradicts the impression that Carson is a dogmatic right-winger. For example, Carson complains about how, as a doctor, he dealt with insurance companies who were more interested in declining procedures to save money than in making sure their clients (his patients) received appropriate care. 

And though Carson is a supporter of traditional marriage, he laments America’s “homophobia,” noting: “There has been a long and shameful history of gay bashing in America that thankfully is waning.”

He also identifies with Trayvon Martin, recalling: “I can remember times when I would be walking in a white neighborhood and in short order a police car would show up, undoubtedly summoned by a concerned onlooker.”

These are the nuanced opinions and positions of a thoughtful, if iconoclastic, commentator — not an ideologue. This book helps reveal the real Ben Carson — the guy most casual observers don’t really know.

Listen to my full conversation with Dr. Ben Carson here — and download the podcast on iTunes!

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Matt K. Lewis