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.