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The American Medical Association is the biggest, oldest, and most influential doctors’ association in the country. It was founded 174 years ago, has an annual budget of $300 million, and over a thousand employees. And it has just gone certifiably insane. When it comes to training doctors, it wants us to throw out the “malignant narrative” of merit and hard work, and select people on the basis of “intersectional oppression” instead. It also wants to turn the country upside down to fight “racism” and bring about “health equity.”
Here’s its brand-new “Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity.” It’s not joking about “equity.” In 86 pages, it uses the word 454 times. On the cover are ideal doctors of the future. Ten are women, four are men, and one I would call indeterminate. Am I mistaken, or does the lady on the lower left have a beard? The guy I want for my doctor is the one in a turban.
The “strategic plan” opens with an incoherent call to worship: “We acknowledge that we are all living off the taken ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples for thousands of years. We acknowledge the extraction of brilliance, energy and life for labor forced upon people of African descent for more than 400 years.” (p. 4)
The first blacks showed up in 1619, so if slavery lasted “more than 400 years” they’d still be slaves. On the same page, the strategic plan says doctors must have “the consciousness, tools and resources to confront inequities and dismantle white supremacy, racism, and other forms of exclusion . . . .” (p. 4) Doctors are also supposed to fight poverty, lack of good jobs and good housing, and *perceived* powerlessness. They’re going to be busy.
But it’s all in the name of equity, so what’s that? It’s *not* equality. “Where equality is a blunt instrument of “sameness,” equity is a precise scalpel that requires a deep understanding of complex dynamics and systems.” Treating people equally is a “blunt instrument.” It’s so 1960s. But equity is a precise scalpel for treating people differently. (p. 12)
So, who are the people with a “deep understanding of complex dynamics” who know how to cut one way and not another with that precise scalpel ?
Surely, one would be the AMA’s very own Chief Health Equity Officer, Aletha Maybank, whose staff wrote the report. She was appointed in 2019, and here she is, in Essence Magazine, bragging about “A Historic Day for Black Women, A Historic Day for the AMA.”
So what’s guiding those scalpel cuts? The report says it’s all about the “marginalized” and “minoritized.” Who are they? Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, other people of color, women, LGBTQ+. Who’s missing? It would be so much simpler if the report just said, “Straight honkies cause all our problems.”
So, what does Aletha want the world of medicine to look like? Back to page 12, where we learned that equality is passe. The strategic plan itself highlights in blue the words of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg. “People ask me sometimes, when do you think it will be enough? When will there be enough women on the court? And my answer is when there are nine.” In other words, when they’re all women. So, when will there be enough “marginalized” and “minoritized” doctors? Is Aletha telling us it will be when there’s not one heterosexual white man left?
To get to that point, we’re going to have to get rid of standards for doctors, but Aletha’s ready for that. Back to page 12, where she writes we have to repudiate “the myth of meritocracy. [Because] It is a narrative that attributes success or failure to individual abilities and merits.” Can’t have that. So we will choose doctors on the basis of equity, not competence.
The “strategic plan” rabbits on about “anti-racist praxis” “white patriarchy,” “racial capitalism,” “intersectionality of systems of oppression,” and “reimaging our collective narratives.”
It includes nifty graphs of the waxing and waning of “structural violence” – whatever that is – against blacks and Indians. Stop the video and take a look. There are identical sine waves of “structural violence” for LGBTQ+, Asians, and Hispanics.
The strategic plan agonizes over AMA’s own deep racism and promises to: Quantify impacts of AMA’s policy and process decisions that excluded, discriminated and harmed — [and] Launch a multi-year restorative justice initiative (p. 51)
*Quantify* the evil? I imagine the unit of measure will be US dollars. This is “restorative justice,” after all. Here’s Aletha herself talking about this, interviewed by the AMA’s Chief Experience Officer, whatever that is. “You know – repair that.” 11:22 – 11:38.
What awful things did the AMA do? Somebody went back through 147 years’ worth of papers and proceedings and found the very worst. They are in Appendix #9: AMA’s historical harms. Harms, plural.
Here are all four harms in the “General” category.
171 years ago, the AMA published a paper on the cranial capacity of skulls of different racial and ethnic groups. Unlike what this says, it never mentioned phrenology. What’ll that be worth in restorative justice? Half a million? The second “harm” is a 161-year-old paper that “can be described as proto-Eugenic.” The third is a 1907 report on improving public health in Panama so people digging the canal wouldn’t get sick. And the last one, from 1930, was a debate over whether it was fair to let European doctors immigrate if American doctors couldn’t practice in Europe. Pretty awful stuff, huh? So how much will the AMA have to pay?
I’m sure we’ll find out. And as you can see, Aletha has all these people working for her. Nine of them have the word “manager” or “director” in their title, so they probably have staff under them, too.
This is not just a colossal waste of time and money. It means incompetent doctors who will kill people. Because, despite all this newfangled idiotic jabber about “structural violence” and “racial capitalism” the fundamental insanity in this strategic plan isn’t new.
Some of you old timers remember Patrick Chavis.
He went to UC Davis Medical School in 1973 under a special program to let in blacks with low grades and test scores. It was “equity” before its time. A white applicant who was rejected, Allan Bakke, sued, claiming racial discrimination. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that racial preferences are legal.
Chavis became a doctor and was touted as a great success for affirmative action – on TV, in The Nation, and in a cover story in the New York Times Magazine in 1995. The next year, Senator Ted Kennedy called him “the perfect example” of how affirmative action is supposed to work. But, the year after that, the state of California suspended his medical license, saying he had an “inability to perform some of the most basic duties required of a physician.” He had been sued 21 times for malpractice. After he bungled an operation on Yolanda Mukhalian, he hid her in his house for 40 hours, where she lost 70 percent of her blood. Miraculously, she survived. He used his “precise scalpel” on Tammaria Cotton, and then left her to bleed to death.
They were black women – intersectional victims of “systemic racism.” But then, as now, black lives didn’t matter unless there was a white man to blame. Patrick Chavis never accepted responsibility and *always* shouted about “racism.” Nineteen years ago, he was shot to death, age 50, near Los Angeles. Robbery? Carjacking? Angry former patient? No one seems to know.
I wonder if our friend Aletha has ever heard of Patrick Chavis. It would serve her right if the next Dr. Chavis operated on her.