The New Fascists Among Us, Part II: The American Medical Association

The tweet above is the smoking gun that proves the attitude toward freedom of thought, opinion and expression in the American Medical Association, a group that most Americans believe is dedicated to the area of expertise of its members: health and medicine. The tell-tale words of the fascist are right there: “harmful podcast and tweet,” because words that challenge the required orthodoxy must not be allowed, and “We are taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” meaning intimidation, punishment, indoctrination, and censorship. These are the tools of those who fear free speech, and who demand compliance with mandated beliefs.

Once the damning tweet was exposed by, among others, Campus Reform, the American Medical Association took it down. There is no reason to do this unless the group realizes that it reveals too much. This tweet, however remains:

That tweet exposes the AMA for what it is: a political ally of an ambitious rights-repressive regime, and an organization that is abusing its perceived authority and the public trust. As with a similar recent proclamation by the CDC, firearms and the Second Amendment are not the proper concern of the AMA. Using the power of a collective professional organization to lobby publicly or privately for restrictions on American rights unrelated to medicine is an abuse of power and a misrepresentation. (The American Bar Association, and many, many others, engage in the same insidious mission creep. It is why I refuse to belong to the ABA.)

In past posts on this topic, I have noted that if my doctor started questioning me about whether there is a firearm in my home (there is), I would a) end the discussion, b) leave the office and c) find a new doctor, just as I would if he quizzed me about how fast I drove or what kind of dog I owned. Physicians are authoritarian by nature, and I suppose it is to be expected that they would gravitate toward totalitarian government and its methods. Expected, I say, but not tolerated or excused, at least by me.

Nobody else should tolerate or excuse it either.

But returning to the deleted tweet: The American Medical Association issued a statement that it was “deeply disturbed” and “angered” by a recent Journal of the American Medical Association podcast that “questioned the existence of structural racism.” Though JAMA supposedly has editorial independence from the AMA, the association made certain that JAMA Editor-in-Chief Howard Bauchner asked for and received the resignation of podcast host and deputy editor Dr. Edward Livingston. Why? Livingston was punished because , in the words of the statement, his podcast and tweets about it were “inconsistent with the policies and views of AMA” and “structural racism in health care and our society exists and it is incumbent on all of us to fix it.”

“Fix it,” as was completely predictable once this rhetorical scam first raised its fascist head, of course means, above all else, demanding that everyone agree, or at least never utter disagreement in public or in private (for someone might report you.)

The statement is an embarrassment for what is supposed to be a profession devoted to science, facts, and the advance of human knowledge. The CEO of the AMA, James L. Madara, MD, wrote,

“To be clear, structural racism exists in the U.S. and in medicine, genuinely affecting the health of all people, especially people of color and others historically marginalized in society. This is not opinion or conjecture, it is proven in numerous studies, through the science and in the evidence.”

Check the links. The New England Journal of Medicine article that the”studies” link goes to even states in its second paragraph, “There is no “official” definition of structural racism — or of the closely related concepts of systemic and institutional racism — although multiple definitions have been offered.” If you can define a term however you wish or whatever way is convenient to achieving a particular policy objective, then it cannot be objectively “proven.” Madara’s statement is a lie, a political assertion being masked as science and scholarship. His later assertion of “evidence” links s to an article in The Lancet that begins,

Despite growing interest in understanding how social factors drive poor health outcomes, many academics, policy makers, scientists, elected officials, journalists, and others responsible for defining and responding to the public discourse remain reluctant to identify racism as a root cause of racial health inequities. In this conceptual report, the third in a Series on equity and equality in health in the USA, we use a contemporary and historical perspective to discuss research and interventions that grapple with the implications of what is known as structural racism on population health and health inequities. Structural racism refers to the totality of ways in which societies foster racial discrimination through mutually reinforcing systems of housing, education, employment, earnings, benefits, credit, media, health care, and criminal justice. These patterns and practices in turn reinforce discriminatory beliefs, values, and distribution of resources. We argue that a focus on structural racism offers a concrete, feasible, and promising approach towards advancing health equity and improving population health.

By no stretch of the imagination or the English language is such an article “evidence.” It is advocacy. Advocacy can be and often is rebutted, and that is how progress is made. Fascists, however, are unwilling to risk losing an argument, so instead they prevent ideas and the communication of them that might threaten their ideology, plans and allies. That’s what the AMA is doing. Many in their complicit, totalitarian-minded membership, College Reform reports, applauded.

“Glad to see some concrete steps here after the #racist physician tweet/podcast,” wrote University of Minnesota medical professor Betsy Hirsch. Is one editor really enough to review all publications for #racism? I bet that is more than other journals have though.” The term “racism” has been made into such an effective weapon that it now can justify censorship of almost any point of view or speech: if you argue that a problem isn’t caused by racism, you are obviously enabling racism, and thus YOU are a racist, disqualifying you from public discourse, Prof. Hirsch brings this fascist version of intellectual restraint to medical students.

“Here is the AMA response to the ‘no physician is racist’ tweet and associated podcast,” added University of Southern California clinical pediatrics professor Michael Cosimini. “I remain very curious what the review process was before they released this piece and how it could have been let through.”

In other words, those “in the right” have to cut off dissent before it is uttered.

Individuals are often, indeed usually, weak, reticent, wary of direct confrontation and desperate for approval. Organizations like the AMA mass them to create the illusion of authority and virtue, and are increasingly using their perceived expertise and consensus to drive mandatory and oppressive political measures under the pretense, or perhaps the delusion, that such measures will achieve beneficent, sophisticated and well-planned societal policies.

You know…like “fix it.”

Part I is here.

16 thoughts on “The New Fascists Among Us, Part II: The American Medical Association

  1. AMA members kill over 500,000 Americans yearly. They should be treated as the major threat they are. They routinely kill far more Americans than Covid, firearms, and total military deaths each year. As the third leading cause of death of Americans, NRA safety wing should be allowed to regulate physicians as the NRA has experts in the proper safe handling of dangerous weapons. The AMA members should not be allowed near schools, on federal property, on airplanes without prior permission and proper precautions, or in crowded places like movie theaters. The federal government should license AMA members and may require paperwork for them to travel across state lines.

  2. A separate topic. Medicine is not a field of science. Neither is engineering. Medicine is to science as plumbing is to metallurgy. Plumbing uses metallurgy and plumbers understand some metallurgy, but they are different. Medicine uses science but physicians are not scientists. Physicians memorize things, they do what they are told, and very few understand what they are doing.

    It wasn’t that long ago that physicians used to give people a big glass of mercury to drink because it would ‘flush everything out’ and that is healthy! They also promoted cigarettes because the elevated heartrate and blood pressure were ‘like exercising’ and therefore good for you. Physicians lately have been shocked to find that if you put someone on opiate painkillers for a few years, even at the recommended doses, that they patient becomes addicted! Currently, physicians are encouraging the use of experimental vaccines on children despite little benefit to the children as well as encouraging the use despite the warnings in the vaccine’s own literature. Remember, lots of physicians still prescribe antibiotics for conditions they know are viral in nature. Covid causes blood clots, but few physicians are promoting blood thinners for Covid patients. Many physicians are refusing to see patients in person or are refusing to see patients who are sick.

    • Do you think “The statement is an embarrassment for what is supposed to be a profession devoted to science, facts, and the advance of human knowledge” is incorrect then? Isn’t the profession of medicine supposed to be that, with the human knowledge being specifically aimed at preventing and treating disease and physical maladies?

      The key word is “supposed.” Should I have written, “a profession devoted to profit power, and convention”?

      • Perhaps “devoted to maintaining and controlling a monopoly on the delivery of vital medical care” is a better mission statement for the AMA.

        • I stopped believing the physician competency, even for specialties when both a specialist and ER doctors wanted to amputate four toes because of a bad fungus. It was exhausting to have to argue to keep toes on both feet.

  3. I rewatched the Winter Soldier last night, and so all that comes to mind is… “Heil Hydra!”

    Rather ironic now that the Red Skull has been recast as Jordan Peterson. Because telling young men to make their beds, hold their heads up, and not to be a victim is obviously coded Nazism.

  4. Oh God. I am tempted to reiterate my favorite Stalin quotes, but will not.

    The AMA would be much more responsible if they finally stopped protecting their members from malpractice rather than engaging in left wing politics.

    I don’t want to have to care about my doctor’s politics, but perhaps I should. Would his treatment of me be affected if we differed on politics, or because since I have not suffered ‘structural racism’ I am somehow more responsible for my own ailments???

  5. The CEO of the AMA, James L. Madara, MD, wrote,

    “To be clear, structural racism exists in the U.S. and in medicine, genuinely affecting the health of all people, especially people of color and others historically marginalized in society. This is not opinion or conjecture, it is proven in numerous studies, through the science and in the evidence.”

    He should be beaten over the head with this statement with merciless abandon! If structural racism exists in medicine, why hasn’t he fixed it? What is his plan? How is progress toward fixing it going to be measured? At what point will his leadership of this organization be deemed a failure for his inability to fix this problem he has declared? When will he resign for his inability to correct structural racism in a field for which he is the CEO of its Professional Association?

    -Jut

  6. Your comment on doctors asking about guns reminds me of my middle child’s last well child visit. My pediatrician (whom I trust) has informed me that she is required to ask about firearms in the home and give gun safety lectures. Her approach is, “you know the gun talk?” I respond, “I’m ok.” She responds, “checked off.” But whenever we have a student shadowing her, as we did in March, we have to have the gun talk. My standard response when asked prying questions about firearms is, “Any guns my children may come in contact with are being handled in a responsible manner. In addition, my children are being taught that guns are always loaded and pointing them at anything means that you have killed it.” I still have to listen to the stupid lecture, but I refuse to answer whether or not I’m armed in the car or at home. Medical errors kill more people than guns and if someone wants to make a big deal about that, I think I can make a stink.

    As a mostly unrelated note, I find that weapons training varies greatly by location. Safe weapons handling, where I am, means learning that there are two safer ways to hold a gun, either barrel up or down. It is emphasized in safety classes that pointing a gun toward the ground is significantly more dangerous than pointing the firearm angled into the air. While it is very rare for a spent shell to fall on a person, ricochets off of the ground are extremely dangerous and far more lethal. However, people in different (and probably more populated) areas seem to be taught the opposite. Certainly city kids seem not to be taught to never point even a nerf gun at another person where country kids like me are taught that even a nerf gun should be treated like a real gun so as not to confuse ourselves when we go out shooting the more lethal version.

    With how guns are handled, I believe we will all have to talk to our doctors (or for you big city folk, find other doctors) about not getting involved with racism at doctors visits soon.

    • I’ve not yet had the pleasure of getting Institutional Propagnda from my medical provider yet, but I’ll be glad to listen to it once that provider has completed safety lectures around vehicles, trampolines, swimming pools, 5-gallon buckets, bicycles, poisoning, choking hazards, and everything else more statistically hazardous.

      Poor or incomplete advice on any of the topics in progression is gronds for ending the lecture.

      • WallPhone,

        This may be a scary thing to hear, but the public health department in my town (that you have to go through to get certain types of necessary medical and developmental assistance that one of my children requires) does actually require lectures on all that you mentioned, except the five gallon buckets. I have had to sign paperwork saying that I had read and listened to the talks on trampolines (and other accidental and/or fall hazards), poisoning (repeated at least once a year), choking hazards (refresher courses required), water safety with emphasis on lakes, rivers, and ponds (the only swimming pool in town makes you sign a waver that you understand appropriate pool safety at least once a year), and before you can even leave the hospital with your kid (first or subsequent), you must watch a video, read a treatise, and listen to a nurse lecture on safe driving habits and appropriate car seat treatment (including never putting a kid in a car seat with a coat, even if it is -40 outside before wind chill). Not only is child safety covered, but so is road rage. In fact, to get out of the hospital with even something as small as stitches on a two-year-old, you must sign off that you have had the “quit tobacco” discussion, even if you have never lit a cigarette or chewed in your life. I think we’re well into medical practice as behavioral control.

  7. I also am not a fan of the professional organisations I belong to spouting off about one thing or another. That said, membership is voluntary and leadership is elected. Just as I won’t be leaving my country because of the inane positions its leadership sometimes adopts, I remain with these professional organisations to do the work I want to and motivate the change I want to see.

    Unfortunately, I’m not yet brave nor professionally secure enough to REALLY push back on the types of things discussed in this post.

  8. Ἰατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν, Iatre, therapeuson seauton Physician heal thyself. Does the AMA recommend sliding scale fees for services? NO. Does the AMA recommend uniform fees whether one is insured or not? NO.

    If health outcomes for certain classes of patients are unequal it is because the doctors failed their patients and their patients failed themselves. There is no system that does not include those affected by it because they are the system.

  9. I repeat this every time someone talks about “gun-related” deaths:

    Two of every three “gun-related” deaths in the U.S. are suicides, where the use of a firearm is largely irrelevant to the act itself. If a gun is not available, the individual will use any of a thousand other means – overdose, carbon monoxide, jumping off a cliff, jumping off a building, stepping in front of a truck – nine hundred ninety-five to go…

    So that leaves us with ~13,500 gun-related deaths among ~330,000,000 people in the US. If I do the math right, that’s .004% of the population that died of an non-intentional, non-self-inflicted gunshot wound. So 99.996% of the US population is not killed by a gun.

    If the average person in America lives 75 years (I don’t know the exact number but for this point, it’s close enough), then 1.5% of the US population dies every year of all causes, or 4.95 million people this year that will die. In a non-leap year, that’s 13,562 people per day. Guns (used in some non-suicidal way) account for 36 of those daily deaths.

    All the non-suicidal gun deaths in the US add up to 1 day’s total of the yearly total. 1/365.

    Instead of suggesting that it be harder for lawful gun owners to maintain their 2nd-Amendment Rights, the AMA should maybe concern itself with what’s killing people the other 364 days of the year.

  10. As with a similar recent proclamation by the CDC, firearms and the Second Amendment are not the proper concern of the AMA.

    This had been going on since at least the 1990’s.

    the NRA actually criticized these organizations, telling them to “stay in their lane”.

    http://www.vox.com/first-person/2018/11/12/18087262/doctors-guns-thousand-oaks-nra

    This is not to write that doctors have no business opining about general issues of public policy, no less so than plumbersm, electricians, or waitresses.

    Professional organizations are a different matter, for they erode trust when opining about subjects outside their expertise.

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