Dr. Ben Carson, who made headlines earlier this year for calling out President Barack Obama during his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, withdrew Wednesday as Johns Hopkins University’s commencement speaker.
Students protested Carson’s planned address after the neurosurgeon’s recent comments on Fox News about gay marriage.
According to The Washington Post, Carson decided to step down so that he wouldn’t be a distraction during the graduates’ celebration.
“Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interests of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year,” Carson said in an email to the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Paul Rothman. “My presence is likely to distract from the true celebratory nature of the day. Commencement is about the students and their successes, and it is not about me.”
Rothman criticized Carson, head of the Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery, for grouping gays, pedophiles, and people who support bestiality together as opponents of traditional marriage.
“We recognize that tension now exists in our community because hurtful, offensive language was used by our colleague, Dr. Ben Carson, when conveying a personal opinion,” Rothman said in a statement issued Friday. “Dr. Carson’s comments are inconsistent with the culture of our institution.”
Carson did apologize for his comments but in his letter to Rothman he described himself as a victim of political correctness.
“Someday in the future, it is my hope and prayer that the emphasis on political correctness will decrease and we will start emphasizing rational discussion of differences so we can actually resolve problems and chart a course that is inclusive of everyone,” Carson said in his email to Rothman.
This is not the first time Carson has ruffled feathers over a commencement speech. Last year, Emory University professors complained about Carson’s disdain for evolution. Despite his advancements in pediatric medicine, especially his work with conjoined twins, the Emory faculty felt his Christian beliefs disqualified him from addressing the school’s graduates. Carson gave the speech anyway.
Carson plans to step down from his position at Johns Hopkins later this year, fueling speculation he might consider a new career in politics.