Do No Harm is grateful to Health Affairs for two reasons.
First, the prestigious medical journal which calls itself the “bible of health policy” ran our advertisement in its latest issue. The ad asks, “What is anti-racism?” and asks readers to contact Do No Harm if they’ve seen the discriminatory and divisive policies that anti-racism demands. It’s good for Health Affairs readers to encounter ideas that aren’t steeped in woke ideology, and it’s unusual for a publication or institution committed to “anti-racism” to allow the presence of a dissenting opinion.
The second reason we’re grateful is this: Health Affairs has clearly admitted its subordination of science to politics.
Alongside our ad, the journal ran a long note from its editor, Alan Weil, explaining why Health Affairs accepted an ad it finds “objectionable” and defending the racialist approach his journal has taken to scientific publishing. Much of the statement is a repetition of hackneyed, empty slogans such as declaring the Journal’s “commitment to being anti-racist and dismantling systems that disadvantage certain populations.”
Dr. Weil asks what our goal is at Do No Harm. Our answer is an equitable society – one committed to the values of liberalism and equality, not “anti-racism.” An equitable society is not one in which fellowships such as the one Health Affairs offers are only for people of a certain skin color (contrary to the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of the civil rights laws). It is not one where the skin color of authors and reviewers is collected for whatever purpose.
Dr. Weil asked us for proof that Health Affairs had brought “race and other non-academic factors into the peer review process.” We supplied his own article to support that claim. The link speaks volumes. In that article, he states that it is his duty to “advance equity in scholarly publishing” and he acknowledges that he is recruiting authors and reviewers simply because of their skin color and not because of their expertise.
The example he then provides is of requiring a Native American to review a scientific paper about Native American health – a deep corruption of the scientific enterprise, and one that will undermine the essential nature of the peer review process, whose purpose is to ensure rigor, impartiality, and excellence.
We’ll continue to sound the alarms when Health Affairs or any other organization accuses the entire medical field of “systemic racism,” “implicit bias,” or any other broad-brush attack against the decency and integrity of tens of thousands of health care practitioners in this country who care for the sick with no regard for the color of their skin. Making “anti-racism” a pillar of healthcare means making racial discrimination, demoralized clinicians, politicized standards, and patient mistrust the pillars of American healthcare.
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