Overcoming my hard-earned animus towards the network, I muted the commercials and watched chunks of the ACC-Big 10 challenge on ESPN and its sister networks this past week. I trust basketball fans will understand why this long-suffering Purdue alum permitted himself this particular indulgence.
Historically, the one cause I never begrudged ESPN was its work with the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. The foundation, started in 1993 by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jimmy Valvano, has since awarded nearly $300 million in research grants. Those who have not seen the dying Valvano’s speech at the 1993 Espy Awards need to. Not since Lou Gehrig has a sports figure made such a stirring farewell.
If I thought, however, that not even ESPN could taint a cause as noble as the Jimmy V Foundation, I underestimated ESPN. During the games the announcers proudly discussed how money donated to the Jimmy V Foundation would be funneled to research designed “to close the gap in cancer disparities experienced by minority patients.“
What shocked me was not that ESPN execs would waste donor dollars on such woke quackery, but that they would brag about it. Although not a doctor, at least not the kind that matters, I know something about the subject. I recently edited a book by a real doctor, a brave one, on the effect of critical race theory on the medical profession. The situation is far more ominous than people think.
Today, the word “disparity” and its derivatives drive the medical profession. If there is a disparity in applicants to medical school, educators solve the problem by lowering the standards, not for “minorities” in the classic sense, but for “UiMs” — underrepresented in medicine. This category does not include students of Asian origin, as they are not underrepresented, but it does include Blacks and Hispanics.
Once they achieve “equity” in a recruitment class, educators are under tremendous pressure to preserve equity all the way through to graduation and beyond. As a result, the attrition rate in medical school is nearing zero. One way educators have managed to achieve something like equity in grading is to sacrifice classes in hard sciences in favor of classwork in social justice.
Consider, for instance, the programming at Geisel Medical School of Dartmouth College, a name that just barely survived the purge of all things Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. “Dr. Seuss.”
The school’s “social justice curriculum” includes a minimum of 55 hours of content, 30 hours of which are for classroom work and 25 hours for “experiential learning.” The latter involves such time-wasting adventures for would-be doctors as “volunteerism, community outreach, and scholarly research relevant to social justice.” Dartmouth is not an outlier. Far from it.
In 2021, the American Medical Association issued a frightening, 86-page master plan titled, “Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity, 2021-2023.” The AMA recommends five strategic approaches “to advance equity and justice.” Among them is this: “Foster truth, racial healing, reconciliation and transformation for the AMA’s past.” One way for the medical establishment to atone for its “past” is to provide research grants to young physicians allegedly trying to eliminate disparate health outcomes among races.
For many of those who have gotten their M.D. on equity points, “scholarly research relevant to social justice” is a lifeline. Insecure about their ability to perform real life-saving medicine, they find refuge in doing research that may be pointless at best, but that is largely immune to criticism from a wary, largely White leadership class.
Once they achieve “equity” in a recruitment class, educators are under tremendous pressure to preserve equity all the way through to graduation and beyond.
That class has reason to be wary. Howard Bauchner, former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), learned the new rules the hard way. In February 2021, a deputy JAMA editor, Dr. Ed Livingston, hosted a podcast on the subject of “structural racism.” Acknowledging disparate outcomes between Black and White patients, Livingston suggested the disparity was not the result of physician bias but of societal inequalities.
“The use of race for any sort of transactional activity was made patently illegal by the civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s,” said Livingston. “Given that racism is illegal, how can it be so embedded in society that it’s considered structural?”
Livingston explained that he grew up in a Jewish household that “reviled” racism. “Yet, I feel like I’m being told I’m a racist in the modern era, because of this whole thing about structural racism.” People, he said, “are turned off by the whole structural racism phenomenon. Are there better terms we can use? Is there a better word than ‘racism’?”
The woke medical community went bananas. Fearing for his job, Bauchner groveled: “Comments made in the podcast were inaccurate, offensive, hurtful, and inconsistent with the standards of JAMA. Racism and structural racism exist in the U.S. and in health care. After careful consideration, I determined that the harms caused by the podcast outweighed any reason for the podcast to remain available on the JAMA Network.” Bauchner only proved that there is no appeasing the Left. Apologies never work. Livingston was forced to resign and, finally, so was Bauchner. The pious authors of the AMA master plan called the airing of this podcast an “egregious, harmful error.”
It is in this environment that the honchos of the Jimmy V Foundation will make their research grants. They will inevitably choose researchers whose goal is to identify systemic racism as the source of all disparate outcomes. To maintain the fiction, these researchers will slight or deny outright obvious cultural, environmental, and even biologic differences among races.
Having tracked down a new supremacist variant, they will offer as remedy more forced re-education of medical professionals and the hiring of more UiMs like themselves.
One day, not too far in the future, some truly clever researchers will pin the disparate outcome caused by Sickle Cell Anemia on physician bias. Let’s hope the Jimmy V Foundation is not the organization doing the funding.
Jack Cashill’s latest book, Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply, is now on pre-sale. See www.cashill.com for more information.