URLs du Jour


  • Is there an ideology-free doctor in the house? Maybe not, if this trend reported by John D. Sailer takes off: ‘White Coats for Black Lives’ and the Transformation of Medical Schools. It's a full-spectrum infection:

    On June 25, 2021, White Coats for Black Lives (WC4BL), a national organization of medical students, published its statement of “vision and values.” The “dominant medical practice in the United States has been built on the dehumanization and exploitation of Black people,” the document read, and WC4BL exists to rid the medical system of this allegedly pervasive racism. Doing so requires not only “dismantling anti-Black racism, white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, and cisheteropatriarchy,” but also “dismantling fatphobia,” embracing “Black queer feminist praxis,” and “unlearning toxic medical knowledge.”

    Terminology aside, WC4BL is no fringe organization. It boasts more than 70 chapters at medical schools across the country, including at such top institutions as the University of North Carolina, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin. In 2020, when physicians around the country participated in George Floyd protests, their rallies took the organization’s name. Now the group hopes to keep the movement going by injecting the concepts of identity politics into the practice of medicine.

    WC4BL seeks to transform the U.S. medical system. White supremacy, according to the statement, “permeates every dominant American institution, including healthcare.” Part of the reason is the current credentialing system for medical doctors. “Physicians have utilized violence to oust women and femme healers” primarily through “the professionalization of the medical field,” the statement reads. “The power and prestige given to medical doctors in the U.S. today is not a direct result of scientific advancement or service to the larger community, but the intentional and often violent consolidation of power.”

    If you get a doctor who's "dismantled fatphobia", does that mean you won't get nagged about losing weight? I see potential upsides there.

  • Still on my get-at-library list is The Constitution of Truth by Jonathan Rauch. But Arnold Kling warns of some problems: Jonathan Rauch and the Knowledge Problem.

    If Rauch has a blind spot, it is that he overlooks the deterioration that has taken place within twentieth-century institutions. He is unable or unwilling to recognize institutional decay.

    As one trivial example, Rauch quotes Lisa Page in one place and Peter Strzok elsewhere to buttress minor points. Rauch refers to each only as “a former FBI agent.” In fact, they were infamously lovers who boasted to one another in text messages about their intentions to bring down the Trump Presidency. When this was revealed, their superiors felt it necessary to take punitive action. Rauch mentions none of this, not even in a footnote. For me, this is equivalent to quoting Michael Milken on financial institutions without mentioning that he served time in prison for insider trading. As a professional journalist, if you view the accusations against Page and Strzok (or Milken) as overblown, then you owe it to the reader to say so, rather than going on as if their records were unblemished.

    Arnold recommends Rauch's book on balance. And has a selection of others on the same general topic of (more or less) practical personal epistemology. I'm putting the ones I haven't read on my list (two at Portsmouth Public Library, one at the University Near Here).

  • The GOP needs a Colonel Nicholson moment. Gerard Baker has a New Year's wish: To Save America, the GOP First Has to Save Itself.

    Democrats have spent a year trying to re-engineer the U.S. economy, redraft the nation’s social compact, and remake its political and legal institutions, all on the back of an imaginary electoral mandate. They’re going to spend a good deal of time in 2022 telling us how the Republican Party poses an existential threat to America as we know it.

    We should take a moment to step back, admire the chutzpah and deride the hypocrisy. Many of us have devoted a good deal of time in the past year to pointing out the darkly illiberal direction of modern progressivism and the cant that sustains it. But if we want to find the path back to national renewal, conservatives should resolve to acknowledge that the challenges to democracy come not exclusively from one side.

    The country’s future won’t be secured by shrill appeals to partisanship or by “owning” your opponent. It’s true that, thanks to the extremism and ineptitude of the Democrats, Republicans have a historic opportunity to redeem the nation. But to convert a mere electoral victory in midterms into genuine progress toward national regeneration will require persuasion—especially of the large numbers of Americans with grave doubts about the modern Republican Party. That will require a more thorough repudiation of the illiberal tendency in their own ranks.

    It took me a while, but I've begun to notice the general theme of "democracy is doomed" porn on the left. Mainly their argument seems to be "Ignore our incompetence and arrogance, or say goodbye to democracy."

    If you didn't get the headline reference above, I have a movie suggestion.

  • Anyone remember "Love, American Style"? Well, this might make a pretty good TV series: Free Speech, America-Style. (Okay, it's Kevin D. Williamson's Tuesday column.)

    It is not the case that Canada, Western Europe, and Australia are authoritarian hellholes where illiberal rulers trample mercilessly upon the civil rights of their hapless subjects. But it is the case that American-style free-speech protections, as enshrined in the First Amendment, do not exist in these places. And that matters. It matters in those countries, and it matters in the United States, where the legal protection of free speech faces the threat of being suffocated by social pressure on both private and public actors to suppress speech that is deemed — almost always opportunistically and vindictively — dangerous.

    It is likely that, as a matter of global consensus, one set of rules is going to prevail: the American model or the European model — or, rather than “European,” the model that more closely resembles the narrower practices in most of the liberal democracies outside the United States.

    Consider the case of Australia, where courts have ruled that there is no personal right to free speech, in spite of the country’s notional protections for freedom of political communication. In one important case, a worker in the national government’s immigration agency was fired for criticizing the agency’s performance in the matter of offshore immigration-detention facilities. She used a pseudonym, did not advertise her connection to the agency, made the posts on her own time from a personal device, etc. There was no real employment issue — she was simply fired for saying what she thinks, in private life. In another high-profile case, a high-court judge described free-speech rights as “still not yet settled law.” No doubt the judge is correct — but such rights should be settled law. These are fundamental things.

    One of the things to be grateful for, Americans: even "free" countries have more ways to punish you for saying stuff than we do.

  • This is why I'm not a movie critic. Astral Codex Ten is way more perceptive and insightful than I was when he watched Don't Look Up. And it's also hilarious (with, be aware, plenty of spoilers).

    Don’t Look Up is primarily a movie about existential risk, and many great people have already reviewed it as such. I’m going to be less virtuous and use it as a springboard to talk about politics.

    But first, the plot in a nutshell: Male Scientist and Female Scientist discover a comet will hit Earth in six months. They contact the relevant authorities, Black Scientist and Asian Scientist, and go to meet the President (who, despite being a woman, is Donald Trump). The President says scientists are always doomsaying, if people get too panicked she’ll lose the midterm election, and she’ll get around to dealing with this later.

    (the Earth, at this point, has five months and however many days left)

    In desperation, Male Scientist and Female Scientist finagle their way onto a big TV show. But all the subsequent press is about how sexy Male Scientist is and how shrill Female Scientist sounds. Still in desperation, they go to the New York Times and get an article about the comet. In response, the President has Asian Scientist (who is head of NASA) announce there’s nothing to worry about, and the Times drops their story and accuses the scientists of making them look bad.

    The moviemakers have claimed it's a climate change allegory. ACT points out that the movie is an utter failure to make sense on that score.