Back in 2000, the psychiatrist Sally Satel published PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine. It is a coruscating attack on the tendency, then in its early days, to subordinate medical decisions to the “indoctrinologists,” activists who put “ideology before patients” and enlist medicine in a left-wing campaign of putative social reform. The book is a brilliant call to arms but seems, when read in the context of current realities, almost tame. Consider, to take just one example, the latest news from the University of Minnesota Medical School, where students this summer took an oath to “promote a culture of anti-racism.” Like Macbeth, Satel had “supp’d full with horrors.” But how much worse things have become in the last couple of decades!
The occasion on which the students proclaimed this oath was denominated a “white coat ceremony.” But it will come as no surprise that said white coats were castigated as a “symbol of power, prestige, and dominance,” all of which, you understand, are bad things. We were surprised, since this ceremony took place at a medical school, that sickness bags were not distributed. So far as we could determine from the video, none was available. “We commit to uprooting the legacy and perpetuation of structural violence deeply embedded within the healthcare system,” the students chanted, though they had nothing to say about committing themselves to mastering the diagnostic or therapeutic skills that would enable them to fulfill that other more traditional oath, the one named for Hippocrates.
We won’t tax our readers’ attention—or upset their stomachs—by reproducing the entire oath. But here are a few representative passages. Be sure you are sitting down and have the windows open. “Our institution is located on Dakota land,” we learn. “Today, many Indigenous people from throughout the state, including Dakota and Ojibwe (ooh-jib-way), call the Twin Cities home; we also recognize this acknowledgment is not enough.” Of course it isn’t. Nothing ever is. But here is what these tender medical shoots promise:
We recognize inequities built by past and present traumas rooted in white supremacy, colonialism, the gender binary, ableism, and all forms of oppression. As we enter this profession with opportunity for growth, we commit to promoting a culture of anti-racism, listening, and amplifying voices for positive change. We pledge to honor all Indigenous ways of healing that have been historically marginalized by Western medicine.
Forget about that mri or cardiac ablation. Get hold of a certified shaman who knows about the laying on of hands and ancient tribal spells, and above all knows how to play the race card without blushing.
As with the invasion of political correctness and identity politics into the humanities, this repellent spectacle was no isolated phenomenon among medical schools. Nor is the University of Minnesota Medical School a backwater. It is consistently ranked as one of the top medical schools in the country. But like many, perhaps most, medical schools, it has eagerly embraced the “woke,” politically correct policies and attitudes that have subverted other areas of higher education. It has, for example, signed on to the strictures outlined in a program called “Anti-Racist Transformation in Medical Education.” According to this document, “medical education and biomedical research have been shaped by a legacy of racial injustice,” a legacy that must be undone by subordinating medical knowledge and practice to the dictates of a racially charged program of “social justice.”
Sally Satel did us all a service by describing the first harbingers of this poisonous onslaught. As is true elsewhere in the educational and corporate establishment of America today, the pathology has only gotten worse and more thoroughly entrenched.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 41 Number 3, on page 2
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com