Woke activists have infiltrated nearly every institution of American life. From academia to Hollywood, the radical left has successfully marched its way to power.
Most dangerously, the left has infiltrated an institution where people’s very lives are at stake: health care.
Woke health care “just goes against medical ethics,” Dr. Stanley Goldfarb says. “The tradition in medicine is to give treatments to patients who need them. And if you had to make a decision based on scarce resources, you gave it to the patient who would benefit the most from it.”
Goldfarb, a kidney specialist, is chairman of the board at Do No Harm, a national association of medical professionals that, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, pushes back against woke activists in the health care system. He also is author of the new book “Take Two Aspirin and Call Me by My Pronouns: Why Turning Doctors Into Social Justice Warriors Is Destroying American Medicine.”
Goldfarb joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss the consequences of woke ideology in medicine and how we can bring health care back from the cliff.
We also cover these stories:
- A whistleblower reveals that the FBI has launched several investigations into parents who protested or spoke out against their schools’ education policies.
- Seven protesters dressed as characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale” march around a cul-de-sac where Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett lives.
- The governors of Virginia and Maryland call on the Justice Department to provide better security for Supreme Court justices in light of ongoing protests in front of their homes.
- Amid record-high gasoline prices, the Biden administration cancels three planned oil and gas lease sales.
Listen to the podcast on The Daily Signal or read the lightly edited transcript:
Doug Blair: My guest today is Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of the board at Do No Harm, a national association of medical professionals pushing back against woke activists in the health care system, as well as author of the new book “Take Two Aspirin and Call Me by My Pronouns: Why Turning Doctors Into Social Justice Warriors Is Destroying American Medicine.” Dr. Goldfarb, thank you so much for joining me today.
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb: Well, thank you very much for having me.
Blair: Yeah. I want to start with a question that might have some unpleasant implications for people who are going through the American health care system. How does wokeness and social justice in medicine impact the care that patients are receiving?
Goldfarb: Yeah, and I think that’s a very important question because it does, I think, illustrate really how this problem may evolve in the future. So, there are at least two really good examples that I can give you where it speaks to this issue.
The first one is a little bit historic now, and it has to do with the fact that some of the treatments for COVID-19 were very scarce when they first were made available. And decisions were made by several institutions, states—even New York state, for example—that individuals who came from what were called traditionally oppressed minority groups would get preference for access to some of these scarce treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, simply on the basis of their skin color.
It didn’t matter whether they really were high risk from a medical perspective, they were seen to be high risk because of historical problems in the community.
So this was an example where there really was the possibility for a white patient who actually qualified and needed a medication would not get access to it if there was a black patient who didn’t necessarily need the treatment, but who had a higher standing because of an algorithm that gave certain points based on individual skin color.
So you got two points out of the three or four that you needed to get the treatment if you were the right racial group. And obviously, this just goes against medical ethics. It goes against, I think, what most people would think makes any sense. The tradition in medicine is give treatments to patients who need them. And if you had to make a decision based on scarce resources, you gave it to the patient who would benefit the most from it.
Another example has come in the way that patients are admitted to the hospital. So, several years ago, about three or four years ago, one of the Harvard hospitals did a study, which claimed that black patients were being admitted to different parts of the hospital for the treatment of heart failure compared to white patients. And they decided that this must be on the basis of racial bias. And they decided that they would offer only to black patients the opportunity to pick which part of the hospital they want to be admitted to.
Now, it turns out the study was really flawed because, in fact, the reason that patients were being admitted to differential places in the hospital was because of their underlying medical conditions, not because of their race. And it made much more sense to send the patients to the units that they sent to patients.
The white patient who had this heart condition, heart failure tended to have needs that were best served in the cardiology floor. Whereas the black patients who tended to have their heart problems on the basis of their kidney disease, these were dialysis patients who needed fluid removed because of their inability to excrete fluid. They were served much better … on a general medical floor where the dialysis treatments could be more easily coordinated.
So this was another example [of] a flawed study in a group of individuals who had this idea that they were going to see everything through a racial lens. And in doing the study, the investigators even said they were using critical race theory as the lens in which to operate. This led to a differential treatment of patients based on woke principles. And critical race theory, to sort of sum it all up, was with Dr. Ibram Kendi’s idea that past discrimination requires future discrimination. And this was going to be an example of future discrimination.
So here are just two examples—and there are others that I could cite where this has actually become ingrained in the health care system and has real, very unfortunate consequences.
The last one I’ll mention is that the federal government has published a proposal and it’s actually a final rule in Medicare that Medicare physicians will get a bonus if they install anti-racism practices in their practice. So in other words, if they come up with a plan for treating patients differential based on their skin color, they will actually be benefited.
Now, these are examples that I think most people would find really outrageous—is the only word for it—and not based on medical needs, but based on ideology, really, is the basis for these kinds of initiatives.
Blair: Do we see that this was something that was brewing a long time ago or was it spurred on by events like the death of George Floyd, some of these other Black Lives Matter events that might have spurred this type of thing on?
Goldfarb: I go into this in my book to a certain extent. It really traces back almost to [Karl] Marx’s principles that were developed back in the middle of the 19th century.
It had its full flower after World War II when there was a sociologist priest, Ivan Illich, [who] wrote a book called “Medical Nemesis,” where he sort of talked about many of these issues—about the way that modern medicine wasn’t dealing with prevention enough, wasn’t dealing with community health enough, was focused more on treating illness rather than prevention.
What grew out of that was sort of a movement, kind of a new age movement that we should train doctors more on how they interact with people, how they communicate, rather than on these treatments of illnesses with scientific principles, because these kinds of communication approaches and preventative approaches would be more effective for communities. And they are important, but what the real role of the physician is is to treat the individual patient who has an individual problem.
So it arose at that point, but it was quite clear that George Floyd’s killing led to this tremendous outpouring of sentiment about these issues. And many hospitals and academic medical centers, medical schools declared that, in fact, they had been racist in the past and they needed to expunge any racist tendencies that they may have. They’ve now embarked on all sorts of programs to have physicians take anti-bias training.
And so I think … that event, George Floyd’s killing, certainly led to an outpouring of interest in these kinds of initiatives.
Blair: Obviously, in the title of your book, you mentioned that doctors are turning into social justice warriors and how that is destroying the concept of American medicine. Can you expand a little bit on how doctors themselves are becoming more like social justice warriors?
Goldfarb: Well, that’s what’s being proposed more and more in medical education, that medical students who are the future physicians become advocates for these various social initiatives. And the reason I think it … poses such risk to American health care is because, in fact, physicians don’t know anything about these issues that they’re being asked to be advocates for.
We’re not trained to be social workers, which is really what this is about. We’re not trained to improve housing. We’re not trained to improve transportation issues for people living in poor areas. We’re not trained to change the availability of foods in various neighborhoods. We’re not trained to deal with the consequences of fossil fuel utilization by people as their energy source.
So we’re spending more and more time in medical curricula on these topics, but the impulse to do this is not so much that they really influence anyone’s health in a direct way that physicians can act on, but rather, I think it would be useful for the people that advocate for many of these social issues to have doctors as part of their advocacy core.
When someone walks out there with their white coat on and their stethoscope and starts talking to you about the dangers of climate change, that changes the discussion about climate change. And I think that’s really been the motivation to try to generate more social activity on the part of physicians.
Blair: Right. You talked a little bit about critical race theory is something that might be being taught to medical students. I guess, does that impact the care that they’re giving in person? I know we talked a little bit about some of the things that like state and local governments have done specifically during the pandemic, but are we seeing that the actual care that patients are receiving—like the medications they’re receiving—are impacted by the fact that their doctors are going through these types of programs?
Goldfarb: I would, again, I point back to the COVID story where you’ll see this when there’s scarcity. When there’s scarcity, then we start to see decisions being made now based on some of these racial issues, as opposed to the pure medical sort of issues.
So I think that was the most egregious example of it, but I think what the real concern here is sort of what kind of trust are patients going to have in the health care system if they’re told that the system is racist?
Are black patients going to be willing to go see white doctors if they’re told or go to academic medical centers that just announced their anti-racism practices in order to combat the racism that they’ve been manifesting in the past? Are they going to lose trust in the health care system because of that?
And I think what we’ve seen with the hesitancy of black patients to take the COVID vaccines has been part of the manifestation of the endless drumbeat about racist practices that have been present in the health care system.
And so I think the dangers of this are predominantly changing the healthcare system into one in which there’s going to be an emphasis on these racial characteristics of patients and a treatment differential that’s going to go on because there’s been such an emphasis on these kinds of practices.
So I think it’s a future risk more than a present risk, but again, ever since the George Floyd killing, there’s been such an increase in training medical students in these areas that I think is going to become more and more manifest as time goes by.
My institution, the University of Pennsylvania, just appointed one of the physicians to be the associate dean for health equity. Well, health equity in the wokest sort of terminology really means we’ve got to make sure that the outcomes are equal. And the only way we’re going to get the outcomes to be equal is if we give black patients some sorts of advantages over white patients in order to make up for past discrimination.
So I think we’re early in what the impact of all this is going to be. I’m hoping that we’re early in the impact of where all this is going to be because I’m hoping that we can prevent this from undermining American health care.
Blair: Now, it’s not just race that is being kind of inappropriately highlighted in these new sort of woke medical dictionaries and woke medical ideology. It’s also gender ideology. So, in the title of your book, obviously, you mentioned “call me by my pronouns,” which references a lot of this gender ideology that we’re starting to see infiltrate into medicine. How has that impacted the way our health care system treats patients?
Goldfarb: Yeah, well, this all really began about, oh, maybe 10 or 12 years ago when health care had the capacity to block the development of puberty. And this whole question really revolves, not so much around whether individuals have a choice to become transgender, to change their gender as adults. I mean, this is something that people have a right to do if they want to make such a decision and they have the resources to do it.
The question has been what to do with children and to children who express some so-called gender dysphoria, where they aren’t convinced that they’re of the right gender. This is a very common sort of and fleeting feeling that many children have. And then it disappears. Should these children be exposed to drugs that might influence their sexual development and their reproductive capacity as future adults?
And I think that’s where the real danger is in this new movement because it’s advocating for children to make decisions about this that they’re really unable to make. And it’s even putting parents in a very difficult position because those of them that decide that their children really should receive these agents are taking a great risk.
And so, as an individual and as my own particular view of it, is that’s really the danger point. We just don’t have enough information to know which children might actually benefit from such treatment. There may be children that would benefit from such treatment, but clearly there’s been an explosion in the use of these drugs. And it isn’t at all clear whether the data underlie that.
What needs to be done are studies that explore whether in fact there’s a greater risk of self-harm, of depression, of suicide in children that are not given these medications and allowed to transition to another gender when they have this gender dysphoria.
And it’s a very controversial point. European countries have been very, very hesitant. And in fact, many of them have decided that physicians should not be given the opportunity to use these drugs on children to prevent puberty from developing so that they can decide whether they want to actually become transgender individuals as they reach adulthood.
So that’s really where I think that the area may impact American health care in a great way, is whether children are going to receive these medications or not. And I think it’s a very controversial area that needs a tremendous amount of study to clarify it.
Blair: Now, as we begin to wrap-up here, I want to know, is our system able to recover from this? Can we … salvage the sort of health care element out of this and get rid of the woke stuff? Or is it too far gone? Do we need to start looking at what we can do to kind of bring it back from the brink?
Goldfarb: I think it’s early. I’m very hopeful. We’ve started this organization Do No Harm as well. I mean, part of my reason for writing the book was to try to raise awareness of some of these issues. And our organization is a member organization. We have a website, donoharmmedicine.org, and its goal is to really alert physicians, alert patients that these issues are starting to develop in academic medical centers and medical schools.
I don’t think it’s too late. I think there’s real opportunity. I think some of these governmental initiatives, like I mentioned before this extra payment for anti-racism protocols, these are early in development.
And I think that raising awareness about these issues, having a public debate about these issues, making sure that people understand the ethical basis for some of these decisions, or the lack thereof, I think will go a long way.
I think that politicians will start to become aware of these issues and start to introduce legislation that will make it clear that we should not treat people in a discriminatory fashion. We should not have racial discrimination in health care, whether it benefits white people or benefits black people, it should not occur. And I think it’s not too late to prevent it from taking a real foothold in American medicine.
Blair: That was Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of the board at Do No Harm, a national association of medical professionals pushing back against woke activists in the health care system, as well as author of the new book “Take Two Aspirin and Call Me by My Pronouns: Why Turning Doctors Into Social Justice Warriors Is Destroying American Medicine,” available now wherever books are sold.
Dr. Goldfarb, very much appreciate your time.
Goldfarb: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.
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