May 11, 2023
Whatever you had planned to do for the rest of the day, please drop it and read this right now: Heather Mac Donald’s new book, When Race Trumps Merit: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives.
It seems that in the hysteria that followed George Floyd’s death in 2020, we agreed to destroy all of Western civilization — law, music, art, education, policing, science and medicine — to make up for black people not doing well on standardized tests.
Mac Donald cites not hundreds but thousands of institutions that have flung aside standards in order to more fully dedicate themselves to the sole, driving purpose of our nation: boosting black people’s self-esteem.
To consider just one arena, I don’t think you’re going to like the medical care you’ll be getting under the new regime. Just like in the wildly successful Soviet Union, science must be subordinated to politics, specifically “racial justice.”
The American Medical Association, the American Association of Medical Colleges and the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) have all agreed that medicine is racist.
The New England Journal of Medicine “presents a nonstop stream of articles on such topics as the ‘Pathology of Racism,’ ‘Toward Antiracist Allyship in Medicine,’ and ‘How Structural Racism Works — Racist Policies as a Root Cause of U.S. Racial Health Inequities,'” Mac Donald writes.
And “Scientific American produced a ‘special collector’s edition’ on ‘The Science of Overcoming Racism.'”
(It’s fantastic that scientific organizations are finally dedicating themselves to something important like racism, and not something boring, like cancer or Alzheimer’s disease — Unpack your privilege!)
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) aired a podcast in 2021 in which the deputy editor, Edward Livingston, suggested that inequities in medical care be addressed without accusing doctors of “racism.” Both he and JAMA’s editor in chief were promptly denounced and fired, the editor replaced with a black woman.
Black leaders now head the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, the University of Pittsburgh Division of Medical Hematology/Oncology, the Wake Forest School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Pharmacy, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the Massey Cancer Center at VCU, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Department of Medicine at UCLA’s medical school.
What could go wrong? Most of America’s largest cities have black mayors, and everything is fine.
But at least your doctor will be able to diagnose your disease correctly and you won’t die on the operating table, right? … RIGHT? (Anybody else remember the affirmative action doctor who took Allan Bakke’s place at the University of California Medical School at Davis and ended up killing his patients?)
In 2021, Mac Donald writes, “the average score for white applicants on the Medical College Admission Test was in the 71st percentile … The average score for black applicants was in the 35th percentile — a full standard deviation below the average white score.”
Naturally, therefore, medical schools responded by dropping the MCAT for black and Hispanic students, offering them admission on the basis of their “strong appreciation of human rights and social justice,” as the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai puts it.
Things don’t get better at medical school, where black students again score a full standard deviation below white and Asian students on Step One of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). This is the test given after the second year of medical school to evaluate students’ knowledge of anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology and so on. It is multiple-choice and graded by computer.
Conclusion: The computer is racist. In January 2022, the USMLE dropped grades for Step One altogether and converted it to pass/fail.
On one hand, no one will get a bad grade. On the other hand, there will be no way to distinguish one medical student from another, whether black, white or Asian. Research laboratories, residencies, hospitals and medical centers, like the Mayo Clinic, will just have to roll the dice. (Playing hide-and-seek with the most promising scientific minds should turbo-charge medical discoveries!)
Luckily, learning to identify and treat disease isn’t such a big deal at today’s medical schools, anyway. Instead, the faculty are charged with teaching about “systems of power, privilege and oppression.” More than half of the top 50 medical schools now require students to take courses in systemic racism, Mac Donald notes. I’m sure that will be a huge relief when doctors miss your brain tumor.
In 2021, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced that it would spend $2 billion … to find a cure for brain cancer? Parkinson’s disease? Heart disease? NO!!! The $2 billion would go to promoting “diversity and inclusion in science.”
In 2022, the National Cancer Institute, funded by you, taxpayer, decided to change its mission from conquering cancer — and really, who cares about that? FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS! — to guess what? Yes!!! Promoting diversity! Instead of Outstanding Investigator Awards being granted solely on the basis of merit, the gender and race of the researchers would have to be considered.
All this has done wonders for the morale of doctors. Mac Donald quotes one cancer researcher: “It’s the end of the road for me as a Jewish male doctor.” A UCLA doctor told her that the smartest undergraduates in science labs are saying, “Now that I see what is happening in medicine, I will do something else.”
In response to this dystopic future, Mac Donald asked an oncologist, “When would white and Asian male scientists fight back? How much longer would they continue to allow their hard work and accomplishments to be disparaged and sidelined?”
He emailed back: “We value our jobs. We need our jobs. Our peers will turn on us. Speak out, lose job forever, be quickly forgotten and abandoned.”
That’s why, Mac Donald says, it falls to the rest of us to never shut up about the tearing down of standards, to put forth “unapologetic defense(s) of color-blind standards,” and to “relentlessly provide the data that explain the lack of racial proportionality in meritocratic institutions.”
To paraphrase Orwell: If there is hope, it must lie in the uncancelable.