AMERICA DIDN’T BECOME GREAT BY ACCIDENT.”
July 26, 2020
David Puro, M.D., F.A.C.C.
HEARTHEADED – One doctor’s healthcare (among other) rants and musings.
HOW IDEOLOGY CLOUDS THINKING
I did something I’ve never done before: called in to a radio show twice within the same broadcast. It’s a good, local show hosted by Dave Congleton. Dave is a liberal, not a Leftist, and a capable and generally fair interviewer. I caught the end of his discussion about whether the leader of the Black Lives Matter protest in San Luis Obispo that ended with the group blocking traffic on the 101 freeway should be charged and/or jailed. My brief suggestion at the end of the segment was to reverse the cause (i.e., make it about, say, anti-abortion or “build the wall”) as a test to demonstrate how much political ideology was influencing higher brain function.
In the next segment, David interviewed the head of a local San Luis Obispo intersectionality group who was making the argument for systemic racism. The discussion included references to County Sheriff Ian Parkinson’s recent speech that angered many, in which he acknowledged the presence of racism but didn’t see it here in SLO. The main thrust of the guest speaker’s “evidence” for systemic racism turned out to be the disparate outcomes socioeconomically of people of color that are universal, even in SLO. While Dave suggested “attitudinal racism” (what I call personal or individual racism) as potentially operative, this guest insisted both were in evidence.
I called in with the following counter-arguments: the election of President Obama, twice, the fact that 2 million blacks have emigrated to the U.S. over the past 50 years, and the fact that race relations seem to crop up as an issue every 4 years, just prior to a presidential election.
In addition, I argued, disparate outcomes alone do not, a priori, prove the existence of systemic racism and I pointed out that black fatherlessness has rocketed from about 10-15% of families to about 60-70% since the 1950s, while only increasing to ~40% in white families, and that well-intentioned policies have encouraged this sad state of affairs within the black community (one of many contributory etiologies for the socioeconomic disparities). I suggested that reflexively pointing to systemic racism as the cause was a narrowly focused analysis. I expressed distress that this narrative is being used to destroy a great country at the time of the least systemic racism in history, and is turning the most color-blind generation in history into one that is highly race-conscious.
His answer? Unsurprisingly he didn’t refute anything I said or even try to support the view of a systemically racist country. He tacitly assumed the concept of systemic racism needed no further buttressing, acknowledged the issues and facts I brought up without refutation, and stated that he wanted things to progress “faster.”
Prior to our interaction, he did cite one study to support his contention: Reportedly black students are cited for infractions at 3 times the rate of white students. There are data here to support disparate outcomes. (For data regarding more serious issues, such as white on black police shootings, please refer to prior rants.) It is arguable whether this should be interpreted as systemic or individual racism, or to what extent racism is playing a role. But I don’t believe the rules and regulations in this day and age explicitly target people of color, and, like everyone I know, would oppose any such attempts.
I must admit that despite the predictably underwhelming counter-response, I was surprised (and encouraged) that such a weak argument was espoused for systemic racism by someone regarded to be in a position of expertise.
The lack of knowledge, and wisdom, is striking and sad. We should all stand shoulder to shoulder to snuff out any residual policies or activities contaminated by racism, which will likely exist “attitudinally” as long as we walk the earth as flawed humans. We should also unite in defense of a great country and a great system that should not be deconstructed because of misdirected anger.