Some people, even anti-Semites, almost ridiculously go out of their way to get medically treated by Jewish doctors or legally represented by Jewish attorneys. Not having any other leads or referrals, especially if uncomfortable navigating Yelp recommendations, those individuals believe that, when you get a Jewish doctor or lawyer, you are getting someone who probably had to work extra hard and learn extra well to earn their “equal” way through the system.
In one memorable episode of All in the Family, Archie Bunker wants to bring a lawsuit stemming from a traffic incident. To find a suitable attorney, he has his son-in-law, Mike the Meathead, read aloud names of law firms listed in the Yellow Pages. (Remember those books?) As Archie listens to one firm’s name recited after another, he lights up when Mike reaches “Rabinowitz, Rabinowitz, and Rabinowitz.” Archie decides then and there: That’s the law firm for him. Predictably for that show’s comedy style, the firm actually sends a non-Jewish lawyer to the Bunker residence because that particular Queens neighborhood is known to be anti-Semitic, so they want the Bunkers to have a lawyer they will be comfortable with — their “House Goy.” But Archie wants nothing to do with it. “Send me a Jew!” he exclaims, as he throws the other guy out of his home.
Jews had that reputation in those days. Jews would win the Westinghouse awards for science projects. Jews won spelling bees. Jews worked harder because we knew we would not be given an even break in those days in many fields of endeavor, but we could break through barriers if we demonstrably excelled and proved too valuable to reject. Alternatively, we would just have to start our own medical practices or law firms or go into private practice — or create our own industries.
In today’s world, America’s Asian community has stepped into that role: discriminated against because “too many” are too excellent to admit them all. Just as universities and graduate schools once did not want student populations in which Jews were “over-represented,” now they keep out “too many” Asians. Those Asian-descended candidates throw the “affirmative action” quotas into a tizzy. Therefore, many exceptionally qualified Asian Americans are cut out. It really is disgraceful. And it is un-American.
Asians today face the prejudice and bigotry, the discrimination in higher education that once targeted Jews.
In the old days, a targeted group like Jews could be cut out more straightforwardly. “We don’t take Jews.” Period. Or, “We already have too many Jews here.” Open and shameless. But the zeitgeist of the woke era does not allow for forthright acknowledgment of bigotry and discrimination. So the prejudice against Asians is more subtle and nuanced. “It’s not that we are limiting Asians, just that we want diversity and inclusion (except in ideas).” Or, “We aim for equity (not equality), with superimposed equal results, not equal opportunities.” Or, “We want students who are more personable.” Uh-huh. Or, “We want students who have broader interests than just excelling academically.”
And, yet, here’s the paradox: Even woke people prefer not to die in the name of those three letters — D…I…E. Diversity. Equity. Inclusion.
Their unspoken credo: “Sure, go ahead and promote wokeism and prejudicial ‘affirmative action’ all the way! But make sure my Liberal/Progressive White Privileged kid gets admitted anyway, either because I will donate a dorm building or because I have just made arrangements for my kid to be on the rowing team even though she would not know an oar from an either, or a row from a column. And, while it is ‘affirmative action’ all the way — hey, not in the emergency room, at least not when I am the patient.”
Maybe the woke are ready to die for affirmative action — but not from it.
To get into a good college historically, you needed good grades in high school, solid extracurricular activities, and good SAT scores. And all the more so when it came to graduate schools. Certain groups, though, still had a subtle advantage in getting in. If your parents donated a ton to the school, you could get in although mediocre. Or, if some of your extended nuclear family had attended, then you could get in as a “legacy” admission. (Think academic superstars — not — like Al Gore and George Dubya.)
Immigrants had no legacy short cuts. Few had family endowing the school. So they had to get in on their own merits. And if they were members of a group that faced particular discrimination, then you knew that only the strongest candidates among them got in. Those were the doctors and lawyers you wanted.
It was like that for Jews until the 1970s and 1980s. All the Ivy League schools in the Northeast and the Stanfords in California and other such places had quiet numerus clausus policies — quotas limiting how many Jews they would allow in. Therefore, if you went to Jewish doctors and Jewish lawyers, you knew no one had conferred on them their certificates on a silver platter. They had gained their licenses by bucking a prejudiced system and proving so excellent that closed doors ultimately had to open to them.
That is not really the case today for Jews. Rather, today’s equivalent are America’s Asian population.
One hates to generalize about people, and one does so only at one’s peril of being proven wrong by countless examples to the contrary. But Asians today — and also many from American families hailing from India — face the prejudice and bigotry, the discrimination in higher education that once targeted Jews. This happens for reasons similar to what Jews encountered. If you come from a culture that stresses intense book learning, supplementary classic cultural experiences like playing the violin, and no-nonsense studying for exams while other kids are goofing off, you will have a better chance of succeeding academically. That really is America: Work hard — even harder than hard — and there will be a payoff, because, in a capitalist society, the cream will rise to the top. But then, when “too many” in that group all follow the rules that America proclaims as the ticket to success, the bigots and the woke ally to close doors to countless qualified applicants, to make room and leave space for others whom woke society favors regardless of merit.
More and more news accounts now report the shift to wokeness in America’s medical schools. The law schools already are hopelessly woke, and their cancel culture now keeps out all but a token conservative law professor or two per faculty, usually untenured adjunct or shunted off to purely business law courses like International Taxation and Mergers and Acquisitions. But when medical schools go woke, that is a matter of particular life-and-death concern.
Ironically, the bigotry of “affirmative action” also disadvantages highly qualified professionals who are members of those advantaged “affirmative action” groups because, when it comes to life-or-death medical care, most people throw woke ideology out the window and decide that, as in the NFL and NBA, suddenly merit is all that matters. And if you cannot figure out who is merit-qualified to be a great doctor, and you need to guess blindly, you just know that no one gives candidates from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and India an equal opportunity. On the contrary, deans of admission keep their numbers limited, citing any excuse they can — like lacking enough personality or being too singularly book-focused. So, if they have obtained the professional degree, they must be good.
Ever since my May 20 lung transplant, my address book has been expanding with all kinds of new friends: pulmonologists (lungs), a cardiologist (the heart can be impacted by a lung replacement), a nephrologist (a medicine I now take can do a job on the kidneys if one does not drink a river), a dermatologist (another fun med can make one more susceptible to skin cancers), a gastroenterologist (with all those meds fighting for shelf space in one gut), an otolaryngologist (a vocal cord got paralyzed during one of the medical procedures, but this specialist ENT injected it with a filler that, by G-d’s grace, miraculously has given me back my voice), an audiologist (an antibiotic from Hell, amikacin, left me 50 percent deaf, so I now have — matching! — hearing aids), etc.
So, this is not just theoretical but personal. When push comes to shove, patients in medical circumstances know that what is woke will not necessarily keep them awake the next day. Few people want to be treated by an affirmative action doctor. And if one has to wait a bit longer to see someone top-notch, then wait until you are sure you are getting quality behind that stethoscope. Don’t rush. That’s why they call you “Patient.”
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