Bari Weiss finds that a number of doctors are speaking out about the problem.
I’ve heard from doctors who’ve been reported to their departments for criticizing residents for being late. (It was seen by their trainees as an act of racism.) I’ve heard from doctors who’ve stopped giving trainees honest feedback for fear of retaliation. I’ve spoken to those who have seen clinicians and residents refuse to treat patients based on their race or their perceived conservative politics.
Some of these doctors say that there is a “purge” underway in the world of American medicine: question the current orthodoxy and you will be pushed out. They are so worried about the dangers of speaking out about their concerns that they will not let me identify them except by the region of the country where they work.
“People are afraid to speak honestly,” said a doctor who immigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union. “It’s like back to the USSR, where you could only speak to the ones you trust.” If the authorities found out, you could lose your job, your status, you could go to jail or worse. The fear here is not dissimilar.
When doctors do speak out, shared another, “the reaction is savage. And you better be tenured and you better have very thick skin.”
“We’re afraid of what’s happening to other people happening to us,” a doctor on the West Coast told me. “We are seeing people being fired. We are seeing people’s reputations being sullied. There are members of our group who say, ‘I will be asked to leave a board. I will endanger the work of the nonprofit that I lead if this comes out.’ People are at risk of being totally marginalized and having to leave their institutions.”
While the hyper focus on identity is seen by many proponents of social justice ideology as a necessary corrective to America’s past sins, some people working in medicine are deeply concerned by what “justice” and “equity” actually look like in practice.
“The intellectual foundation for this movement is the Marxist view of the world, but stripped of economics and replaced with race determinism,” one psychologist explained. “Because you have a huge group of people, mostly people of color, who have been underserved, it was inevitable that this model was going to be applied to the world of medicine. And it has been.”
“Wokeness feels like an existential threat,” a doctor from the Northwest said. “In health care, innovation depends on open, objective inquiry into complex problems, but that’s now undermined by this simplistic and racialized worldview where racism is seen as the cause of all disparities, despite robust data showing it’s not that simple.”
“Whole research areas are off-limits,” he said, adding that some of what is being published in the nation’s top journals is “shoddy as hell.”
And here’s an example of what she’s talking about:
The editor-in-chief of the prestigious medical journal JAMA will step down June 30 following backlash after an editor at the publication made controversial comments about racism in medicine, the Chicago-based American Medical Association (AMA) announced Tuesday.
Dr. Howard Bauchner has been editor-in-chief of JAMA and JAMA Network since 2011, but he’s been on administrative leave since March when comments about structural racism made by another editor on the publication’s podcast, and a tweet promoting the podcast, sparked outrage.
“I remain profoundly disappointed in myself for the lapses that led to the publishing of the tweet and podcast,” Dr. Bauchner said in the announcement. “Although I did not write or even see the tweet, or create the podcast, as editor-in-chief, I am ultimately responsible for them.”
Dr. Edward Livingston, a deputy editor at JAMA — who is white — said structural racism no longer existed in the U.S. during a Feb. 24 podcast, The New York Times reported.
“Structural racism is an unfortunate term,” Dr. Livingston, said during the podcast, according to The Times. “Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. Many people like myself are offended by the implication that we are somehow racist.”
In a now-deleted tweet promoting the podcast, The New York Times said the journal wrote, “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care?”
Livingston later resigned, the Times reported.
Over 9,000 individuals have signed a change.org petition following the podcast and accompanying tweet calling for a review of Bauchner’s leadership as well as changes in the editorial process to ensure a more inclusive publication.
“The podcast and associated promotional message are extremely problematic for minoritized members of our medical community,” the petition, created by the Institute for Antiracism in Medicine, says. “Racism was created with intention and must therefore be undone with intention. Structural racism has deeply permeated the field of medicine and must be actively dissolved through proper antiracist education and purposeful equitable policy creation.”
In place of the now-deleted podcast is an apology from Bauchner.
“Comments made in the podcast were inaccurate, offensive, hurtful, and inconsistent with the standards of JAMA,” Bauchner said in the minute-long audio clip. “Racism and structural racism exist in the U.S. and in health care.”