“Whole areas of research are off-limits. Top physicians treat patients based on their race. An ideological ‘purge’ is underway in American medicine.”
These are the words of Katie Herzog, who penned two bombshell exposés last week about the gangrenous spread of wokeness in America’s medical industry. She published them at the Substack account of Bari Weiss — one of several editors to quit the New York Times last year over its hostile work environment and narrowing viewpoint diversity.
The Katie Herzog piece which received the most attention was about a Yale lecture delivered by Dr Aruna Khilanani. Quotes from this New York doctor set social media platforms alight: she was recorded scorning all white Americans as evil and bragging about her fantasies of killing white people.
“There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil,” Dr. Khilanani told her audience at the Yale event. “I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step.”
(Ironically, it has since come to light that, though she refers to herself as “black”, Dr Khilanani is the daughter of two Pakistani migrants who are both doctors. Khilanani grew up in a middle-class suburb in Michigan and graduated from Detroit Country Day School, which has an annual tuition of US$34,000. In addition to her medical qualifications, she immersed herself for two years in Marxist theory and critical race theory at the University of Chicago).
One deranged and mis-careered psychiatrist does not a crisis make. But Herzog’s other piece, “What Happens When Doctors Can’t Tell the Truth?” examines a deeper problem. In a field like medicine, wokeness threatens more than reputations, relationships and careers: “it is threatening the foundations of patient care, of research, and of medicine itself,” she warns.
Her 4,500-word report makes for a harrowing read. Most of the medical professionals she interviews remain anonymous, but she clarifies that they are not “secret bigots who long for the ‘good old days’ that were bad for so many”. Rather, she explains, “they are largely politically progressive, and they are the first to say that there are inequities in medicine that must be addressed.”
Herzog tells of doctors who were reported to their department for “racism” because they criticised residents for being late, and other medical personnel who “refuse to treat patients based on their race or their perceived conservative politics”. She quotes a doctor who immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union, who painted a bleak picture: “People are afraid to speak honestly… It’s like back to the USSR, where you could only speak to the ones you trust.”
What Herzog uncovered about the impact of wokeness on medical research was most concerning. A doctor from the Pacific Northwest told her that:
Wokeness feels like an existential threat… In health care, innovation depends on open, objective inquiry into complex problems, but that’s now undermined by this simplistic and racialised worldview where racism is seen as the cause of all disparities, despite robust data showing it’s not that simple.
The case of Dr Norman Wang makes this abundantly clear. Dr Wang is a cardiologist from the University of Pittsburgh who published a paper in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA). His conclusion, after analysing 50 years of data, is that affirmative action and “diversity” initiatives have neither improved patient outcomes nor increased the participation rate of black and Hispanic clinicians in the field of cardiology. On this basis, he argued in his paper that race-neutral policies were the way forward for medicine.
Herzog recounts that at first, Dr Wang’s paper passed largely unnoticed. “But four months after it was published, screenshots of the paper began circulating on Twitter and others in the field began accusing Wang of racism,” she explains. In a classic case of cancel culture, an online mob formed — led by medical professionals — using the hashtag #RetractRacists.
The editor in chief of JAHA ultimately retracted Dr Wang’s piece and issued an apology. But it went even further. The American Heart Association (AHA), which publishes the journal, denounced Dr Wang’s paper in a statement. AHA’s accompanying tweet said that the work of Dr. Wang
does NOT represent AHA values. JAHA is editorially independent but that’s no excuse. We’ll investigate. We’ll do better. We’re invested in helping to build a diverse health care and research community.
.@JAHA_AHA article by @Norman_C_Wang does NOT represent AHA values. JAHA is editorially independent but that’s no excuse. We’ll investigate. We’ll do better. We’re invested in helping to build a diverse healthcare and research community. See how here. https://t.co/JjvCWB2Yx7
— American Heart Association (@American_Heart) August 4, 2020
Herzog searched out how frequently JAHA has retracted research in the past. She found that it had only occurred in one other case: a paper written in 2019 that linked heart attacks to vaping, where the findings were ultimately exposed as in error. In the case of Dr. Wang’s research, no such errors were found. AHA simply denounced “the views expressed in the article” as “contrary to our organisation’s core values and historic commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in medicine”.
As MercatorNet’s editor Michael Cook rightly observes, “in the world of medicine, the ability to speak truthfully is quite literally a matter of life and death.” We can whinge about wokeness in many corners of society, but in medicine, it may well end up costing lives far beyond Dr Khilanani’s delusional fantasies.