The American Medical Association Falls to CRT
“The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.” This well-known quote is a liberal translation of Antonio Gramsci popularized by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, which renders “In this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear” as “Now is the time of monsters.” Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist leader and theoretician who is considered the forefather of Critical Race Theory, had probably no idea that, a century later, such an accurate insight into his time would prove to be incredibly prophetic of our own here and now. Today the monsters -- or morbid symptoms -- are among us as neighbors, colleagues, and friends accept and embrace the Critical Race Theory and its ramifications in the many fields of human life and scientific research.
One of these fields -- perhaps the most unthinkable -- is that of medical science and practice. Things have meaningfully changed since on June 25, 2021, White Coats for Black Lives (WC4BL), a national organization led by medical students, published its statement of “vision and values.” The organization, which boasts 75 chapters at medical schools across the country and was called to action by the Black Lives Matter movement, “aims to dismantle racism in medicine and fight for the health of Black people and other people of color […]. Our job is two-fold: 1) dismantling dominant, exploitative systems in the United States, which are largely reliant on anti-Black racism, colonialism, cisheteropatriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism; and 2) rebuilding a future that supports the health and well-being of marginalized communities.” WC4BL also focuses on “dismantling fatphobia,” embracing “Black queer feminist praxis (theory and practice),” “unlearning toxic medical knowledge and relearning medical care that centers the needs of Black people and communities.”
As if that was not enough, WC4BL calls for the end of both prisons and police and proposes to “destigmatize and decriminalize drug use,” “decriminalize sex work,” offer “universal” access to abortion, and “advocate for the bodily autonomy of trans and non-binary people by removing medical gatekeepers from the process of accessing gender-affirming healthcare (such as requirements for therapists' letters prior to accessing gender-affirming surgery).”
On top of that, the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) recent guide to anti-racism planning suggests that universities develop a scorecard “similar to the White Coats for Black Lives’ Racial Justice Report Card.” A very important endorsement! Similarly, the October 30, 2021 “Guide to Language, Narrative, and Concepts,” a collaboration between the American Medical Association (AMA) and the AAMC Center for Health Justice, offers “a guidance on language for promoting health equity, contrasting traditional/outdated terms with equity-focused alternatives,” explores “how narratives (the power behind words) matter,” and provides “a glossary of key terms, defining key concepts, and whenever possible acknowledging debates over definitions and usage.” Terms such as “Caucasian,” for instance, should be avoided. Conventional phrases such as “Low-income people have the highest level of coronary artery disease in the United States” and “Native Americans have the highest mortality rates in the United States” should be changed respectively into
“People underpaid and forced into poverty as a result of banking policies, real estate developers gentrifying neighborhoods, and corporations weakening the power of labor movements, among others, have the highest level of coronary artery disease in the United States,”
“Dispossessed by the government of their land and culture, Native Americans have the highest mortality rates in the United States.”
The guide also includes the ideas that “individualism and meritocracy” are “malignant narratives” that “create harm,” and that “race-based medicine leads directly to racial health inequities.”
Quite predictably, several mostly conservative researchers and lawmakers with ties to the medical profession rejected the “woke” guidelines as potentially dangerous. Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research, warned that the guidelines further inflame racial divisions in the U.S. “One of the first thoughts that came into my mind is that this is a violation of the Hippocratic oath which says all physicians must do no harm,” he told the Washington Times.
Sally Satel, M.D., a practicing psychiatrist and lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine who also works at the American Enterprise Institute, writing in the Australian online magazine Quillette, argued that “indoctrinologists” were distracting medical professionals from their rightful purpose. “Physicians cannot -- and should not -- ‘dismantle racism and intersecting systems of oppression’ as part of their clinical mission,” she wrote. “To imply that such activity falls within our scope of expertise is to abuse our authority. Doctors can reasonably lobby for policies directly promoting health, such as better coverage for patient care or more services, but we will lose our focus and dilute our efforts to care for patients if we seek to address the perceived root causes of health disparities.”
“Integrating these ideas into medicine,” five professors and practicing doctors told the Washington Free Beacon, “would be a catastrophe, resulting in under qualified doctors, missed diagnoses, and unscientific medical school curricula.” The guidance won’t just influence the way doctors talk, these practitioners said, but also what they know and how they treat patients. “It could even make them unwilling to screen racial minorities for serious conditions -- including many types of cancer -- that they are more likely to inherit, on the mistaken belief that genes play no role in racial health disparities.” “They’re trying to superimpose social science onto medical science,” said Jeff Singer, a general surgeon in Arizona -- a huge cultural achievement not only for Antonio Gramsci but also for Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and the whole Frankfurt School that created Cultural Marxism. Not by chance the AMA-AAMC guide touts Critical Race Theory as a means of reaching “equity” in the medical field and practice. It also cites the organization Race Forward’s document on how to defend CRT, titled, “Guide to Counter-Narrating the Attacks on Critical Race Theory.”
Matt Bai, a columnist for the Washington Post, rightly called the guide “Orwellian” in a piece titled “Paging Dr. Orwell. The American Medical Association takes on the politics of language.” He wrote,
Let’s leave aside for the moment the obvious question of why it’s the AMA's business to lecture anyone about what counts as acceptable language. As far as I know, the folks at Fowler’s Modern English Usage have never issued a guide to performing thyroid surgery.
Be that as it may, the country’s most powerful medical associations have decided that the “dominant narratives” of inequality in health care must be “named, disrupted and corrected,” according to an introduction that reads like it came from Mao’s “Little Red Book.”
And that’s all, for now, from the “woke” medical front line.
Samuel Robert Piccoli is a blogger and the author of the books Being Conservative from A to Z (2014) and Blessed Are the Free in Spirit (2021). He is Italian and lives in the Venice area.
Image: American Medical Association