by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It is a popular sport among those on the progressive left to dismiss conservatives’ concerns about the spread of “woke” ideology (such as Critical Race Theory and “antiracism” training) in public education and corporate culture. Parents are scolded for suggesting that seeing the world through the “lens of CRT” or the factually challenged posturing of the 1619 Project might be harmful to their children’s education, and employees are chastised for questioning the effectiveness of new mandates on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The implication is that only a racist would resist the new “antiracism.”
And yet, there is one arena in which woke thinking is not merely politically polarizing, but deadly. As Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a nephrologist and associate dean for curriculum at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, writes in Take Two Aspirin and Call Me By My Pronouns, the “quiet woke revolution” that had been going on in medicine for some time “erupted in spring 2020 into a full-blown revolution”—one with ongoing negative consequences.
That year, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the ensuing protests, and amid a global pandemic, doctors and medical students began going well beyond their remit as physicians to embrace the role of social justice activists. “Led by a cadre of woke administrators who embraced the tenets of critical race theory, the medical establishment was committing itself to a misguided focus on anti-racism and equity in all aspects of the health-care system,” Goldfarb writes.
Groups of physicians organized under names such as White Coats for Black Lives, and issued manifestos that were little more than crypto-Marxist argle bargle: A June 2021 statement outlined the group’s mission of “dismantling dominant, exploitative systems in the United States, which are largely reliant on anti-Black racism, colonialism, cisheteropatriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism,” for example.