Heather Mac Donald: The Public-Health Profession is More Committed to Social Justice than to Sound SciencePosted: October 22, 2014 | |
Infected by Politics
For City Journal, Heather Mac Donald writes: The public-health establishment has unanimously opposed a travel and visa moratorium from Ebola-plagued West African countries to protect the U.S. population. To evaluate whether this opposition rests on purely scientific grounds, it helps to understand the political character of the public-health field. For the last several decades, the profession has been awash in social-justice ideology. Many of its members view racism, sexism, and economic inequality, rather than individual behavior, as the primary drivers of differential health outcomes in the U.S. According to mainstream public-health thinking, publicizing the behavioral choices behind bad health—promiscuous sex, drug use, overeating, or lack of exercise—blames the victim.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Communities Program, for example, focuses on “unfair health differences closely linked with social, economic or environmental disadvantages that adversely affect groups of people.” CDC’s Healthy People 2020 project recognizes that “health inequities are tied to economics, exclusion, and discrimination that prevent groups from accessing resources to live healthy lives,” according to Harvard public-health professor Nancy Krieger. Krieger is herself a magnet for federal funding, which she uses to spread the message about America’s unjust treatment of women, minorities, and the poor. To study the genetic components of health is tantamount to “scientific racism,” in Krieger’s view, since doing so overlooks the “impact of discrimination” on health. And of course the idea of any genetic racial differences is anathema to Krieger and her left-wing colleagues.
Local public-health programs are just as committed to “social justice.” The National Association of County and City Health Officials promoted a seven-part PBS documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick?, to trigger community dialogues about health equity. NACCHO’s Health Equity and Social Justice initiatives seek to…(read more)
Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
- More on misguided Public Health agencies and political correctness (junkscience.com)
- CDC Is Awash in Social-Justice Ideology (americanpowerblog.blogspot.com)
- CDC Is Awash in Social-Justice Ideology (realclearpolitics.com)
- the HAES files: We Only Think We Understand Health Inequities (healthateverysizeblog.org)
- Wonkbook: The rising global costs of fighting Ebola (washingtonpost.com)
- The Political Economy of Ebola (revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com)