Doctors warn 'Wokeness feels like an existential threat' to medicine

(AP Photo/Robert Ray)

Earlier today Bari Weiss published the first in a series of stories about the spread of woke ideology in the field of medicine. The piece was written by reporter Katie Herzog who co-hosts a podcast with Jesse Singal, another critic of cancel culture. The piece opens exactly the way some previous pieces on this topic have opened, with a group of about a dozen people who meet regularly on Zoom to discuss what they see happening in their own workplaces. The only difference is that these people are doctors.

As Herzog describes it, none of these people would be mistaken for political conservatives. They are generally progressive and believe that racism has created problems within their field, both in the past and in the present. And yet, they are concerned by the illiberal ideology they see taking over the field.

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.

If you recall the hoax on grievance study journals perpetrated a few years ago by James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian, then you probably won’t be shocked to learn that some dubious social justice medial research is already appearing in medical journals.

“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.”

“It’s some of the most shoddy, methodologically flawed research we’ve ever seen published in these journals,” the doctor in the Zoom meeting said, “with sensational conclusions that seem totally unjustified from the results of the study.”

In particular, he was referring to a study which was widely reported last year. But anti-racism goes beyond research and sometimes impacts how the younger generation of doctors practice medicine. For instance, the group White Coats for Black Lives has chapters all over the country which, among other things, demand that hospitals cut off all connections with police. Then there are the doctors themselves:

an ER doctor on the West Coast said he sees providers, particularly younger ones, applying antiracist principles in choosing how they allocate their time and which patients they choose to work with. “I’ve heard examples of Covid-19 cases in the emergency department where providers go, ‘I’m not going to go treat that white guy, I’m going to treat the person of color instead because whatever happened to the white guy, he probably deserves it.’”

The whole thing is worth reading if you have time. I’m looking forward to part two.