Harvard issues most self-abasing antiracist statement ever

April 10, 2021 • 12:00 pm

Not enough time has passed for us to understand why the tide of “progressive” political excess has risen so quickly. Yes, it accelerated after the death of George Floyd, but there are reasons why Floyd’s death unleashed what was already waiting to happen. I myself don’t really understand the phenomenon of “Wokeness”, and why so many people seem to have been driven mad.

Nobody wants to think of themselves as racist, but now we are told that not only are we all racists, but that we’re unconscious of that fact, and that the very structures of government, politics, and universities have racism embedded in their bones and sinews. And in this we’re all complicit. Some of this is true, as the voting rights bills suggest, and it behooves us to find the truth in all the shouting around us.

But the excesses—the shaming, the demonization, the self-abasement, the rush to judgment in every act, the drive to efface the past—often make me despair of the whole enterprise of antiracism, at least as conducted according to the Tenets of Critical Race Theory. It’s not so easy to separate the genuine inequalities that need to be fixed with the cries of the “progressive” left that we need to tear down the whole system and hand over political power to them.

But we can pretty much brush off extreme cases of self-abasement, so common in university “declarations” like the following. Harvard’s Medical School has a Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, and its goals are admirable: to extend what progress the “first world” countries have made in surgery to what they now call “the global South”: those countries with lower standards of living and insufficient medical care. Here are the program’s goals:

The Program in Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) is a collaborative effort between Harvard Teaching Hospitals, the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital and Partners In Health (PIH).

Our strategy is two-fold:

  1. Global surgical systems strengthening through Research, Advocacy, and Implementation Science, using the framework of the Lancet Commission on global surgery. You can learn more about the Lancet Commission on global surgery on the PGSSC Resources page.
  2.  To produce leaders in Global Surgical and Health Systems through Research, Advocacy, and Care Delivery. Through the Paul Farmer Global Surgery Fellowships and research associate positions, it aims to empower surgeons, surgical trainees and medical students around the world with the skills they need to improve the health of some of the world’s most impoverished people.

That is all well and good, but then the Program got mixed up in the anti-racism business, and in a pretty strident way, and issued this statement, which I reproduce only in part.

Racism murders. Racism destroys. Racism dehumanizes. We live in a racist world and all play active and passive roles in perpetuating racism: the system of prejudice and discrimination based on the ambiguous social construct of race backed by unequal and unjust power dynamics. Racism is inherent to every aspect of our lives; it is woven into the fabric of society and consequently its effects interface with our work as the research associates, fellows, and faculty at the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change. Therefore, the absence of conspicuous racist actions is not enough. We must be actively anti-racist. We absolutely, unapologetically denounce our wretched racist system and its proponents without exception.

Racism systemically places higher value and opportunity in the hands of a specific race, and as a direct consequence disadvantages another racial group. It is this benefiting of one group to the detriment of another that has led us to focus on anti-racism. The work of antiracism is allied to that of anti-discrimination and the evaluation of inequities based on gender, sexual orientation, caste, religion, ability, tribal affiliation or socioeconomic status. However, given the distinct relationship of racism, colonialism, and global health, we in the global health community have a moral imperative to shine a bright light specifically on racism within our sphere.

Racism is inherently linked with colonialism. Our work in global health is rooted in colonialism, which provided power to white Europeans through subjugation and exploitation of others. Colonialism subsequently allowed for the creation of the construct of race to justify the dehumanization of those the colonizers exploited. This practice has lived on in global health through the racist belief that those same colonial powers possess medical knowledge that is superior to that of the cultures they denigrated. Consequently, global health is built on a foundation that, at its core, is antithetical to the principle of shared human dignity and respect. Affirming our commitment to anti-racism also affirms our commitment to being anti-colonial.

Academic institutions in high income countries are complicit in and the product of centuries of historic institutional colonialism and racism with over-representation of white voices that are heard on a global scale. We interact with a diverse group of international partners, but cannot truly be equitable partners until we acknowledge and address the place of power and privilege from which we operate.

Here we see the familiar denouncement of racism (seriously, is there any rational person who doesn’t already denounce it?), the chest-beating and self-abasement, and the accusations that all of us are complicit in perpetuating systemic racism. And, like Ibram Kendi, it argues that it’s not enough to refrain from being racist, but we must all actively work, and work in a certain way, to be “antiracists”. Whoever is not antiracist, says Kendi, is racist. It is as if there is only one issue in the world on which we should be working.

Now eliminating global inequality in medical care is an excellent goal, but I fail to see how these kinds of statements will help solve the problem. What we need is the kind of recognition of moral deserts that got Dr. King and his associates the civil rights laws they sought. Why shouldn’t we be helping others who are human and suffer in ways we understand? What we get instead is annoying hectoring, coupled with the strange declaration that promoting global health in Harvard’s way is racist because the practice of medicine in First World Countries is more advanced than in underdeveloped countries. (The fellowships given out by Harvard’s programs are, after all, spent learning at Harvard.)  I call your attention to goal #2 of the program given above:

To produce leaders in Global Surgical and Health Systems through Research, Advocacy, and Care Delivery. Through the Paul Farmer Global Surgery Fellowships and research associate positions, it aims to empower surgeons, surgical trainees and medical students around the world with the skills they need to improve the health of some of the world’s most impoverished people.

This is the exportation of Harvard-style medicine to other countries. Isn’t that the conscious promulgation of “superior medical knowledge”?

This is, of course, a species of medical colonization, for who determines what skills medical workers in poorer countries need? It’s not colonization in the sense of taking advantage of poorer nations, but it’s colonization in the sense of believing that one indeed has “medical knowledge superior to that of the countries they  [once] denigrated.”

There’s a lot more, as well as three subsections swearing what Harvard will do to promote antiracism in various areas, including “People,” “Culture”, and “Civic Engagement”, which itself has two sub-subsections, “Academia” and “Economic Injustice”.  Here’s the Academia part.  I reproduce it because I think it’s misleading about the degree of racism in academia, at least in my experience:

AcademiaWe acknowledge the role that academia plays in perpetuating structural racism. Academic excellence requires equity, yet despite statements denouncing prejudice, many academic systems are fraught with biases. Notably, it is often Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who are expected to be, and inevitably are, the most engaged in issues of structural racism in academia. This engagement results in activities and efforts leading “diversity, equity and inclusion” initiatives that are not traditionally valued in academic promotion criteria. This reality highlights the need for a paradigm shift in two ways – who shoulders anti-racism efforts, and how anti-racism work is valued and supported institutionally to ensure that personal and professional goals are being met. We will engage in the broader academic system, outside of our specific purview of global health, to catalyze meaningful change in the culture of academia.

Anybody familiar with academia will sense the tension in this statement.  And I’ll finish by adding that inequities (differential representation of groups) in academia does not constitute prima facie evidence for structural racism present in academia now.

47 thoughts on “Harvard issues most self-abasing antiracist statement ever

  1. ” This practice has lived on in global health through the racist belief that those same colonial powers possess medical knowledge that is superior to that of the cultures they denigrated.”

    Let me guess, all the authors of this statement have first-rate health insurance paid for by Harvard, giving them access to world-leading “Western” healthcare, and would be horrified if they, personally, had to make do with “indigenous ways of knowing” healthcare.

    PS If a belief in the superiority of the medical knowledge of one culture is supported by double-blind trials, is that belief still “racist”? (For that matter, is placing store in double-blind medical trials a “white supremacist” notion?)

    1. Yes, and the Paul Farmer program aims to bring medical/surgical knowledge from Harvard to other countries and not the reverse.

    2. And one of the great propagandists of Ayurvedic Medicine, Mr Mohandas Ghandi aka. Mahatma , no less, chose Western Medicine (read surgery) when he had appendicitis.
      Maybe not as bad as the evil “Mother Theresa”, who denied her victims patients medical care or even analgesics*, but went to top medical centers for her own ailments. Not as bad, but still pretty bad.

      *’suffering brings them closer to Jesus’.

    3. As a whitey, having married into an Asian and later into an African family, I can solemnly swear that racism is not limited to ‘whites’.
      I have no patience with (although I do not deny they have some points here and there) proponents of “critical race theory’. My main objection is that ‘critical’ race theory is not critical at all. And that it’s champions remind us of the Red Brigades.

    4. Here’s a related question I’d like to drop here: Is a statement racist if it’s factual? I’m thinking of this as related to slander or libel. In other words, a statement is not libel if it’s true. In a similar way, to state, for example, that in the USA African-Americans have the highest percentage of single-parent families and Asian-Americans have the lowest percentage of single-parent families is not racist, simply a statement of fact. Likewise, to say that Western medicine is superior to Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine is not racist.

      1. “to say that Western medicine is superior to Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine is not racist.”
        No, it is not, and any honest Indian or Chinese would concur.

        As far as Neanderthals go: genetics learn most of us have about 5% of Neanderthal genes (I guess in places where genes can vary).
        I hypothesize these Neanderthal genes were brought in by Neanderthal men raping ‘modern human’ females. I do not see a ‘Modern’ raping a Neanderthal woman (she would beat the hell out of him).
        Now there may have been some sexual contacts other than rape of course. That gives us the rosy picture of Neanderthal and Modern romance . Any takers there?

        1. Hey, man, maybe it was merely a coup de foudre situation between Neanderthals and modern humans — you know, like between a Montague and a Capulet.

        2. One of the significant hypothesised contributions to the several % of Neanderthal DNA in AMHs (Anatomically Modern Humans) is hypothesised to be from the adoption of AMH or Neanderthal infants and juveniles into tribes of the other (species or race), which by the point of puberty and mate selection would have made it a question of personal characteristics and attractiveness.
          I tried, and failed, to resist the temptation to refer to the Neanderthals populating the sports ground in modern schooling. It is unkind to Neanderthals.
          Given the common occurrence of exogamy in AMH societies, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t significant non-crisis cross-adoption between tribes who shared (to some degree) territories. AMH societies continue with the habit because swapping genes with outgroups remains popular. There was a genetics program on the box a few days ago (fronted by the extremely “Luton Airport” tones of Stacy Dooley) tracing the US family of a mixed-race British child of the war years – a not-rare occurrence. With family photos of a probably-Caribbean antecedent from the 1870s-or-so, the maritime branch of my family very likely appreciated the basic fact of travel abroad – that humans are not reproductively isolated.

        3. This tangential thread reminds me of the 30-year-old Earth’s Children series of books written by Jean Auel. The AMH heroine, Ayla, is taken and impregnated by a Neanderthal man, and her resulting mixed-subspecies son becomes the motivation for several of her adventures. The first book of the series, The Clan of the Cave Bear, was made into a forgettable movie starring Daryl Hannah as Ayla.

      2. There is a similar pattern of family structures varying by race in the UK, and a correlation with educational and employment outcomes. The CRED report (comment #3) is criticised for laying (some) of the blame for racial inequalities at the door of such familial disparities, despite going to great lengths to say that children from single-parent families can, with the right support, do equally well.

        The issue of absent fathers (and that is usually, but not always the case, of course) is equally detrimental to children of all racial backgrounds, especially when the family is also economically disadvantaged (as it is more likely to be). Thus it applies as much to a white working-class child in the north east of England/Virginia as to a black inner-urban kid in London/Detroit, but acknowledging this simple fact, and proposing recommendations to address the issue regardless of race, is one of the reasons why anti-racist activists have sought to discredit the CRED report.

  2. ‘Yes’ to Coel’s queries above. The elite practitioners of medical science at one of the world’s ultra-premier research institutions are declaring that rationality, hypothesis-formation followed by experimental/clinical pressure-testing, and the scientific method in general, are indeed racist. This seems to be what we’ve come to in the faux-progressive West: insane doublethink.

    1. Yeah, gravity is a social construct. [Reminds us of Dawkins’, “show me a pomo at 10,000 feet’.]
      Who are these, pardon my French, idiots?

      1. Peut être on va nous informer des mots “specials” de votre langue natal – tu as dit que ton héritage est Afrikaans, n’est-ce pas?
        I’ve now got to try to work out what the Swahili or Russian for “pardon my French” is.

        1. Non, mon héritage n’est pas ‘Afrikaans’. L’Afrique du Sud est mon pays d’ adoption. J’ai vécu ici depuis ’99.

  3. “but now we are told that not only are we all racists, but that we’re unconscious of that fact” – I’ve got a nasty feeling that “we all” only applies to white people, in the view of many. Although to be fair, the much-maligned Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred) report published in the UK recently explicitly states that all ethnic groups are capable of racism. (The report has been heavily criticised by activists and columnists e.g. in The Guardian – I’m currently on page 137 and am finding it much more nuanced than its critics seem prepared to acknowledge. Assuming that they’ve actually read it, of course – most of the points they’ve made seem to relate to sentences in the report’s Introduction.)

    Anyone interested can download the pdf here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities

    1. Do you expect that journalist actually have time to read more than the table of contents and introduction of any report?
      Seriously – it was one of the things my journalist friends complained about regularly. Deadlines simply do not permit such investment. It is why they generally tried to get interviews with $REPORT$’s authors. Much more time efficient.
      Also, dense blocks of text really upset advertisers.

      1. Of course not, but if they haven’t bothered to read the whole thing they should be transparent and say so in order that I can ignore their views with a slightly clearer conscience! (Paddy O’Connell on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House last Sunday trying to get a critic of the report to give a straight yes or no answer to whether or not she had read the full report made me laugh. Inevitably, he had to settle for a “I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then”!)

        1. Since firstly, the main point at issue was the existence or otherwise of ‘institutional racism’ in the UK and the Report had been commissioned by Munhir Mirza who denies its existence at the behest of a PM who denies its existence and headed by David Sewell who denies its existence; secondly, the right wing press has declared the Report a clean bill of health for UK race relations; and thirdly, several of the alleged contributors have denied any involvement, you’ll forgive me for thinking the benefits of reading it are nugatory.

  4. Your “medical colonization” point is a good one. It really shows how Woke principles, if applied consistently and universally, would likely undo many of their good works and, ironically, still not do much to cure racism. Drawing attention to such conundrums is an important weapon in the battle against Wokeism. It seems as if they’ve lost perspective in their rush to get onboard the anti-racism bus. Perhaps considering such things will make them think twice about it.

    1. “Perhaps considering such things will make them think twice about it.” 
      They won’t, because it is a religion. Don’t hold your breath.

      1. That depends on whether Harvard Medical School really believes in this crap or was motivated to publish this by fear of being the only medical school not to issue such a statement and being called racist as a result. The fear factor is significant. My guess is that a lot of people who sign onto these statements privately hate being forced into it. If so, I wish they would show more guts but they rightly decide that you issue the statement and move on.

  5. I am not sure that telling others they are racist is a good way to make your points. Whatever racism there is in any one of us is different than anyone else. You are the only one who knows his own conscience so having some other person explain yours probably will not go too far. Just tell them you are going to work on the racism problem within your medical plan or establishment. Making exaggerated claims about your cause is also not likely to impress many. Before taking on the global problem it also might be a good idea to concentrate on your own country or even your own neighborhood.

  6. “This practice has lived on in global health through the racist belief that those same colonial powers possess medical knowledge that is superior to that of the cultures they denigrated. Consequently, global health is built on a foundation that, at its core, is antithetical to the principle of shared human dignity and respect.”

    Zounds! a perfect specimen of wokeism. Skip over the jargon, and it is an apology for the fact that the scientific revolution (in medicine inter alia) occurred in Europe and not in Africa, New Guinea, or Tenochtitlan. This strange passion of self-abasement comes from a familiar reflex of
    the vulgar Left: take a conventional right-wing meme and, without analysis, just turn it upside down.

    There are earlier examples. Proponents of the US intervention in the Vietnamese civil claimed that Ho Chi Minh was the devil: the vulgar Left responded that Ho was an angel. Conservatives used to assert that capitalism is “natural” like gravity. The response of academic ignorami was to embrace a post-modernist fantasy that Physics (including gravity) is a social construct, like capitalism. The old conservative dictum was that conventional gender roles were biologically determined. The now ubiquitous woke dictum is that nothing is biologically determined. Finally, racists used to
    assert that the towering discoveries of science demonstrate European virtue; the vulgar Left responds, as in the quoted Harvard statement, that the discoveries of science exemplify European evil.

    We can only hope that the Wokies move on to the logical next stage: perpetual apology for Homo sapiens as a whole, due to its speciesist eradication of Homo neanderthalensis

    1. Will nobody think of the Denisovans?
      Or the Floresians?
      Or the Naledis?
      Or the Luzonians (which were reported a few months ago). Or …

      1. Them too, it goes without saying. We look forward to self-flagellating statements from Paleontology departments and societies, beating metaphorical breasts over the ancient sins and the ongoing implicit speciesism of H. sapiens.

        1. Vertebrate paleontologists, maybe. Most palaeontologists don’t deal with bones at all – and possibly half of the industry’s income comes from examining microfossils.

  7. Two quick points.

    1) The choice between treatment based on western scientific “medical knowledge” and that derived from (presumably) “other ways of knowing” is a no-brainer.

    2) In the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) in 2020, 46.1% of doctors (and around 40% at the more senior level of consultants) were from ethnic minority backgrounds, according to page 115 of the CRED report I mentioned above at #3. Given our racial demographics, it’s hard to see any structural racism in those figures. That said, there’s a very long-running complaint that the UK poaches talented medical staff from other countries rather than investing in training up its own population to fill the necessary roles.

    1. There is a small proportion (but I happened to share a flat with an example, in my youth, during which time I knew about 8 medics in various years) of people who cynically use the UK’s medical training schools and NHS work-experience system to get their “ticket”, then emigrate to the USA with the explicitly stated goal of making as much money as possible.

  8. For a statement so eager to curry favor with the easily offended, I am surprised it includes such a truly offensive term like the “global South”, as if this were a homogenous group of backwards countries.

    1. I think “global South” is a trap to “out” those who point out that it includes New Zealand and Australia, thereby making themselves complicit in historical genocide

  9. This engagement results in activities and efforts leading “diversity, equity and inclusion” initiatives that are not traditionally valued in academic promotion criteria.

    Why are diversity, equity and inclusion in quotes?

  10. I myself don’t really understand the phenomenon of “Wokeness”, and why so many people seem to have been driven mad.

    I feel this was discussed many times before.

    ONE: Most people want to be seen as morally good, and that is expressed since about 2009 also on social media. They know that “progressives” of previous eras are seen as virtuous and positive, leading to how they resist the bigotry of their times, because that’s how they think they’ll enter history in some small way. Social media is a kind of Jacob’s Ladder, and it is a big deal that ordinary people now document their own lives.

    TWO: Social media was also a new frontier, with lush landscapes up for grabs. Pioneers set the tone, and jockey for influence. This could be measured in followers and retweets, which are building blocks for cults, and opinion leaders alike. If you want to rise above peers, you must be more original, attention grabbing, or controversial in the right way. Diviseness is perfect when it splits some community in a way that more land on your side, and you are the new “expert” on the controversial matter. Warring communities can engage and drive attention for a long time.

    THREE: Tumblr was the pioneer platform of social media, a microblogging site famous for its lgtb+ and special fandom communities. These groups have a much higher occurence of mental health problems, and the new online format might have selected even more people with such problems.

    FOUR: Social media replaced and dissolved traditional media. The media houses reacted by becoming more like social media, which entailed in my theory to hire people with social media expertise and give attention to people with lots followers, that is, Very Online People with a statistical propensity to use social media as described above in a divisive manner.

    FIVE: I mentioned mostly a few structural and historical reasons, why this ideology? I believe in the social media Wild West, where people began using their real identity, the best Colts are calling people racist, sexist, misogynist and transphobic. This eleminates competitors and virtue signals at the same time. You do this often, and you climb Jacob‘s Ladder as a morally superior person who was stunning and brave in the face of bigoted times. That‘s at least the narrative, and why everyone cofabulates this story (also why woke people ironically have no awareness of true minority pioneers, and think that whatever was last thursday was a groundbreaking Rosa Parks moment).

    SIX: A host of social dynamics make wokeness such severe. It was once proudly dubbed “callout culture” by proponents. The incentive was on calling out, and piling on. There is no reward in casting doubt on accusations. The effect is that accusations gets generalised, exaggerate quickly, and can never be dialed down. Add a few unhinged actors, and you get the woke effect. Another dynamic is probably “costly signalling” — when everyone can show their conviction with a cheap retweet, you must do more to rise up, burning bridges and former allies to show one’s true moral superiority. This might also be divisive in the right way (see 2nd).

    SEVEN: I suppose that the experts and cool kids in Tumblr fandom, and then “social media experts” have a degree in literary critique, media studies, or that pioneer opinion leaders in lgtb+ commities have a base in gender or queer studies and suchlike. I see this as an opposite to the typically male-centric and anonyous side of the older anarchic internet of message boards or reddit. This divide between “dudebro edgelords” vs “sjw” seems to be, at first, about different subcultures of nerds, one more lgtb tumblr fandom, and liberal arts, the other more comic book and gaming nerd with a STEM degree. I think this, together with social media, has introduced the “science wars” style features into this clash. Not only can academics discuss across disciplines, but students can duke it out, too.

    I could name even more, like the rise of Critical Race Theory that seems to fit the social and psychological needs, but these should give an idea why this is going on.

    1. By 2009, AOL had stopped sending out installation CDs with practically everything. The trends you note long pre-date that years.
      There’s a lot more than Tumblr. I don’t know if anyone I know has an account (not that I would know – not clear how you would know?)

      1. Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter all went online around 2006, but it took some time until it all came together. 2009 was the first “callout culture” war, known to the internet as “Racefail 09”, where all the usual woke things appear.

  11. What SCREAMS here in this pandemic of First World “self-abasement” – from both sides, the POC excoriaters and the guilt stricken bastions – is the hypocritical cant.
    First, there is not one world about far worse identity abuse [by race and gender etc] today in most non “West” parts of the world.
    So what about BL in Africa?!
    Second, there is not one word that for all the horror of its race stained gestation the “West” is the FIRST political model in c5000y of recorded history which is brazenly identity blind, by race / place / gender / religion.
    Yes reactionary throwbacks in the “West” indulged in wholesale slavery – not least the US!? – but yes it is the “West” which openly outlawed it.

  12. My mom was a schoolteacher, and had to get a degree in “education studies” in order to qualify for a state teaching license. She would come home from classes and tell us what she’d learned in “ed school” that day, and some of the stories were exceedingly thought-provoking. The last one she told us, before she graduated and got her license, was very disturbing.

    It seems that after Stalin took over the USSR, he called together all the good communist intellectuals in Russia and asked them how to further The Revolution in the rest of the world. What those intellectuals told him was that the communists must take over the schools in other countries so as to raise a generation of educated people who would want to further communist goals. In order to do this, in a lot of countries (including the US) they had to infiltrate schools of education themselves, so they could reach communist ideals to the next generation of teachers. To all observations, they succeeded — and are still at it.

    Among the things they taught were what later came to be known as “The Red Tactic” — that was to deliberately increase conflicts between economic classes, to make things worse for the “oppressed”, so that they’d react by becoming communists and agitating for Stalin’s type of revolution. If economic classes didn’t hate each other enough, the next choice was to exploit racial, religious and ethnic groups to set them at each other’s throats. The infamous Marcuse was one of the big pushers of what he called “critical theory” — which Kendi and other post-WWII Marxists changed to “Critical Race Theory”.

    It really is a longstanding communist plot!

  13. The medical establishments of the U.S. and Europe did not lead the world in investigating repurposed drugs for early treatment of Covid-19. The lead was taken by countries, states and local governments in the Global South. The sclerotic response of the CDC, NIH, AMA, and most university medical centers in the U.S, including those of the Ivy League, is not a model that any rational lower-income country should wish to emulate. What arrogance from Harvard!

  14. The need for a paradigm shift?  Engage in the broader academic system? Catalyze meaningful change? Did I miss the part where they explain how they’re going to do that and pay for it? (Like slash top administrator salaries, etc?)

  15. (I am South African, Afrikaans first-language): Wie is hierdie idiote? As in English, it has similar literal and figurative meanings. Being mindful of our host’s injunction to be civil, I will refrain from expanding that theme 🙂

    Slightly off-topic, but related to the value of indigenious medical science, read Wikipedia’s take on the South African traditional healers (colloquially referred to as sangomas and inyangas) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_healers_of_Southern_Africa#Relationship_with_bio-medical_medicine

    A few quotes:
    ” Traditional healers are consulted by approximately 60% [36/60 million] of the South African population, usually in conjunction with modern biomedical services.” A little like the religious who pray for healing but then nonetheless have that highly specialised brain operation. But what do I know, god guided the surgeon’s hands.

    “However, there are no traditional medicines in South Africa that have clinically been proven to be effective in the treatment of HIV/AIDS”

    “A conclusion from a review by UNAIDS in September 2000, regarding collaboration with traditional healers in HIV/AIDS prevention and care, found that modern and traditional belief systems are not incompatible, but complementary”

    “Fraudulent sangomas and scam artists” I have difficulty distinguishing between scam charlatans and “true healer” charlatans”, just as I have that same dilemma when it comes to priests, reverends, tarrot card readers, astrologers, etc, and the “real” ones, to wit, as an example, Jimmy Swaggart. The tele-evangelists seem to have really perfected the art of relieving their followers of the contents of their walllets.

    Some notes:
    * I do not pronounce on the the *cultural* values of these practices. But medically, not much evidence for it. Also keeping in mind the placebo-effect (in a broad sense).

    * I am aware that several plant/herbs (or extracts thereof) are being tested as useful medicines. However, in the global medicine business, these are miniscule.

    * Of course, South Africa is not unique in its practices of traditional healing/healers/shamans.

  16. In answering the question of why wokism is spreading unstoppably, steadily like a huge wave across the entire Western hemisphere, could it not simply be seen as a social hysteria? A hysteria like the witch mania that swept through the countries of Europe in the Middle Ages?
    Wokism as a modern, non-religious form of social mania that ensures its advocates and proponents the possibility of power-sharing or at least the goodwill of mainstream discourse ?

    1. Yes, I think wokeism is some kind of moral panic. The problem is there ARE actually racist people (though a declining breed, elderly, and by the psychological studies, lower IQ), and differential problems with race (the War on Drugs, for eg).

      There’s nothing more destructive than a moral panic with a tiny core of truth.

      And it is one that allows for all sorts of virtue signaling and halo polishing (looking at you Harvard Med – that excerpt from PCC(E) is embarrassingly stupid).

      1. Here’s my take on Wokeism. A bunch of academics in departments whose names end in “Studies” realized that most people in the US can’t tolerate being called racist. The fear of being singled out as a racist is much, much stronger than their dislike of actual racism. So the academics weaponized this fear and it gave them power. It has very little to do with fighting racism.

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