JAMA Editor Fired After Questioning Structural Racism

We have been discussing efforts to fire professors who voice dissenting views on various issues including an effort to oust a leading economist from the University of Chicago as well as a leading linguistics professor at Harvard and a literature professor at Penn. The cancel culture has also extended to museums, book publishers, and other forums for intellectual exchanges. Now the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has fired podcast host and deputy editor Dr. Edward Livingston, who raised his own concerns and doubts in a podcast over claims of structural racism.

While JAMA is supposedly independent from the American Medical Association (AMA), the AMA wrote in a statement that it was “deeply disturbed” and “angered” by the podcast and declared that “this tweet and podcast are inconsistent with the policies and views of AMA.”

The conservative site The Daily Wire has a copy of the since-deleted podcast. During the episode, Livingston reportedly asked Dr. Mitchell Katz the following question: “Given that racism is illegal, how can it be so embedded in society that it’s considered structural?”

Katz then explained how structural racism can manifest itself. Livingston then followed up by noting

“I feel like I’m being told I’m a racist in the modern era because of this whole thing about structural racism, but what you’re talking about, it isn’t so much racism as much as that there are populations, it’s more of a socioeconomic phenomenon, that have a hard time getting out of their place because of their environment. And it isn’t their race; it isn’t their color; it’s their socioeconomic status. It’s where they are.”

Katz appeared to agree with the socio-economic point.

There is much there to unpack and people of good faith can disagree with the socio-economic perspective. That is the point of such forums to allowing different viewpoints and a debate on issues facing society. I disagree with the comments and I would be interested in an exchange on the issue. There was a time when such controversial discussions were welcomed as a platform for discussion. This is not that time.

The podcast triggered the usual demands for termination and condemnation.  Rather than simply present arguments against the socio-economic point, critics wanted Livingston fired. What is most disconcerting is that the loudest celebrating the termination were professors who rejoiced in the notion that someone can be fired for expressing an opposing viewpoint.

As reported on Campus Reform, University of Minnesota Professor Betsy Hirsch“Glad to see some concrete steps here after the #racist physician tweet/podcast.”  For his part, University of Southern California Michael Cosimini demanded to know how such viewpoints could ever have been allowed to be posted.

We previously discussed how commentators and corporations often call for a national dialogue on race. However, those with opposing views of underlying causes and controversies are subject to cancelling campaigns. The result is closer to a diatribe than a dialogue. If we are to have a meaningful discussion about race, we have to tolerate opposing views.  Indeed, the statements made on the podcast would offer a great opportunity to confront such views directly and to challenge the socio-economic claims. Canceling Livingston only reinforces the already overwhelming pressures on faculty members and others not to voice such dissenting views.

117 thoughts on “JAMA Editor Fired After Questioning Structural Racism”

  1. You know how BLM keeps calling white people evil racist oppressors whose goal is to keep blacks down or outright murder them? The founder of BLM, the person who originated the hashtag Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, just bought a $1.4 million home in Topanga, in a mostly white community.

    Hmmmm, if she really thought whites were evil oppressors dangerous to her personal safety, and interfering with her success, would she have used the riches gained from BLM activism to move to a white neighborhood? Millions upon millions of dollars have funneled into BLM. These people aren’t monks sworn to living a sparse life. Patrisse Khan-Cullors has signed a deal with Warner Brothers. People are getting rich off of BLM. The only people whose lives seem to have been improved are BLM would be criminals, who now have a lot freer rein to prey upon innocents in their communities.

    This lady calls herself an “abolitionist” on her bio. If this was 1835, would a former slave working on the Underground Railroad want to live among white slave owners? I think not. People like Khan-Cullors have gotten rich and famous making suckers out of people through BLM.

    Pay attention to what activists do, more than their words.

    1. I think Rev Wright and OJ did the same. Probably true of Jackson and the rest of the race hustlers.

    2. She’s wrong in principle and with language. Abolitionist, she is not. A stand stand against diversity, no. It’s redistributive change. A civil racket. Some, Select [Black] Lives Matter. An ostensibly “secular” Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, relativistic (“ethical”) religion.

  2. I’ve heard nothing but accolades about Livingston…and that he is a liberal. They’re eating their own now.

    1. They’ve been eating their own. Bret Weinstein, Steven Pinker, and J.K. Rowling are all liberals (to name just a few) who’ve been attacked by the woke mob.

  3. Discrimination and racist opinions are fully provided by the U.S Constitution.

    Freedom of Assembly INCLUDES Freedom of Segregation.

    If people cannot freely segregate, people cannot freely assemble.

  4. The psychological intimidation of academics is now so intense, when one such academic denounces the viewpoint of the next, it’s hard to know if it is sincere, or merely defensive virtue signalling. You would think academic leaders (Unoversity Presidents and Provosts/Deans) would use their power to instill a culture of honesty, but many have already been intimidated. Winning back the confidence to speak one’s mind is going to take steel-spined leadership, or these great institutions will soon be surrendering to leftist mob groupthink.

    1. pbinca: “or these great institutions will soon be surrendering to leftist mob groupthink.”
      ***
      Many have already surrendered and joined the torch bearing mobs.

      I think a lot of the problem has come from the ‘studies’ departments that have filled the faculty senate and lounge with not very bright radicals. Imagine universities run by AOC and her like.

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised if AOC has a higher IQ than you do, Young.

        Faculty Senates aren’t “filled” with faculty from “‘studies’ departments.” Have you ever worked at a university and really looked at the distribution of faculty across departments?

  5. I suspect ‘structural racism’ was invented because they ran out of the real thing and the fake hate crimes [Smollett and the the rest] can’t keep up with the demand.

  6. Race matters at the race track. I went to the horse race track often as a kid and was able to bet money. Speed was all that mattered. Horses weren’t judged by brown, black, red, white fur color.
    The biggest disgrace to the human race is when your boomerang won’t come back.

  7. “We Don’t Ask Questions Like That Here”

    During a guest speaker’s presentation to graduate students (the topic is unimportant), some grad students I knew asked the speaker pointed questions. The students were respectful. Their questions illustrated inconsistencies and contradictions in the speaker’s arguments — and he became clearly flustered by his inability to answer their intellectual challenges.

    At that point, the seminar host stood up and reprimanded the students, admonishing them: “We don’t ask questions like that here.”

    The message was clear: The speaker is a Higher Authority. You will shut down your mind, blindly accept his “wisdom,” and bow. If you don’t, you will be silenced — and at UVA’s medical school, you will be expelled from the university.

    Kieran Bhattacharya, then a second-year medical student at UVA, had the temerity to question a speaker’s concept of “microaggressions.” Here are some of his questions: “Exactly how do you define marginalized and who is a marginalized group? Where does that go? I mean, it seems extremely nonspecific.”

    For the “crime” of challenging a Higher Authority, UVA first demanded that he be subjected to psychological counseling, then it expelled him. His 1A suit is pending.

    https://nypost.com/2021/04/08/virginia-student-can-proceed-with-lawsuit-over-panel-confrontation-judge/

    The reason I mention those two cases is because the culture is diseased with an epidemic of Higher Authorities. Our Woke Masters, and their protected classes, are the Higher Authorities. Challenge them — and prepare for a barrage of personal attacks and smears. Question them — be cancelled. Point out inconsistencies and contradictions — pitchforks. Present counterarguments — you’re a “violent extremist.”

    It takes a tremendous amount of self-confidence and courage to stand up to such psychological bullying.

    1. It takes a tremendous amount of self-confidence and courage to stand up to such psychological bullying.

      Good post Sam. The primary purpose for government is to secure the rights of it’s citizens. This fundamental principle has been lost on the citizens. At best, they don’t know what their rights are, or worse, they don’t care, as long as those higher authorities permit them to live a relatively comfortable life. I believe this is our fundamental divide today. On one side are those ignorantly willing to be slaves to their government masters and on the other side are those fighting for the security of those natural rights of life, liberty and property. A culture of dependence vs one of self-reliance. Isn’t it ironic that those accepting the critical race theory narrative are pushing the hardest for the Master/slave relationship.

      1. Thanks, Olly.

        “Isn’t it ironic that . . .”

        It’s positively sickening. They have no concept of individualism or of individual rights. To them, one’s racial tribe is everything. And the only two choices they see are: Sacrifice one’s self to others, or sacrifice others to one’s self. One thing is glaringly obvious: Their goal is *not* to eradicate racism.

        I agree that there is a political aspect to this Higher Authority mania. (AOC’s a prime example.) However, fundamentally it’s much broader than just politics. It’s an Enlightenment issue. The West is rejecting its Enlightenment heritage — and with it, respect for rational discourse, scholarly debate, civilized argument.

        “Fix reason firmly in her seat” is being replaced with: “Shut up and obey — or else!” That, of course, is a prelude to dictatorship.

        1. The West is rejecting its Enlightenment heritage — and with it, respect for rational discourse, scholarly debate, civilized argument.

          I always go back to Kant’s description of self-incurred tutelage. It’s the antithesis of enlightenment. We’re on a tragic trajectory, that if we don’t turn it around now peacefully, will only result in having to turn it around later violently.

    2. Speakers should always deal with sincere, on-topic questions, as long as there is time and the Q and A isn’t being dominated by one questioner (preventing others with questions from asking them).

      That said, there’s no way for anyone here to know what actually transpired in your “We don’t ask questions like that here” anecdote, as you present no documentation of the full exchange.

      Re: the med school incident, here’s the case docket, which has more details than NYP article, though unfortunately many of the documents have to be purchased through PACER –
      https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/16202997/bhattacharya-v-murray-jr/
      To be clear, the school required a psych evaluation (also improper), not counseling, and he wasn’t expelled primarily for his questions during the panel discussion. Based on the evidence I’ve read, UVA certainly has some inappropriate procedures (e.g., allowing faculty to submit Professionalism Concern Cards without notifying students about them or discussing the concerns), but the expulsion may still be appropriate.

      FWIW, Bhattacharya seems to have a weak understanding of the role of anecdotal evidence in qualitative research. That’s not uncommon, but should be addressed more effectively by the med school.

  8. I took nine years to finish my my first post high school degree.
    Life was too interesting to just learn a single operation.
    The next three degrees took three months — I just couldn’t work on a single idea.

    I took a short vacation when I was called up ti Vietnam. One of my whimsy classes gave me
    experiences qualified me for First Responder evaluations. FYI I finally kept my ass in a chair
    and spent the next 20+ years designing software..

  9. Young,
    Yes, that is what it stands for. I took what the person said to mean the test may not be particularly accurate at assessing intelligence. That is an interesting question. If the test is not accurately measuring intelligence, then that should be explored. Does it just more accurately measure knowledge and processing speed? Perhaps someone is very intelligent but is a snail when it comes to test taking. Or, is there something about intelligence that is not getting measured by the test because the test itself is insufficient in some way. I have not read much about intelligence since college, so I am curious. Guess I’d better explore this rabbit trail now, too. 🙂

    1. Prairie Rose– I am sure it is complicated. Richard Feynman who won the Nobel Prize in physics and was clearly a brilliant man said his IQ score was 120. It is probably hard to say much about an individual from his IQ score, The Bell Curve says as much, but on average people with higher IQ scores do better at academics and many other things than those with lower scores so scores do have predictive value for large cohorts.

      The quasi-legal assumption that different outcomes for whites and blacks can only be due to disparate impact from racism is likely wrong when outcomes more closely parallel IQ scores. Culture likely also plays a role. We are told to celebrate different life styles and yet expect identical outcomes in the absence of racism, as if midnight basketball is going to be as advantageous as learning math or literature.

      1. Do you believe that it’s impossible for racism to play a role in different IQ scores (e.g., racism affecting poverty, which in turn affects prenatal and infant nutrition)?

        1. I don’t see that primarily as an issue of racism, but more of a socioeconomic and cultural issue.

          1. Yes. They can’t make up their minds whether to blame everything on racism or climate change.

            1. “Historically, racism contributed to distribution of poverty. “

              So did LBJ’s Great Society.

  10. You can’t question structural racism because the media and the left have hitched their stars to it, and they have sold it for decades. They control the black vote in this country because it they have given them a reason to not achieve anything of their own and on their own. This is much easier than really looking at things and saying,” you know, maybe racism is not the single cause of every problem on the globe. Maybe if we sit down and have a real conversation we might find that some groups of people may have to take a bit of personal responsibility in life. The biggest worries Democrats have is that black people might actually look at all this and understand that the whole, “Everything is racist,” crowd are actually pretty racist. I think I would be quite offended that a whole political party thinks I can’t manage to get a free state issued ID card on my own, nor can I be expected to vote unless Planned Parenthood and other left-wing activists aren’t going to give me free bottles of water and a happy meal while in line. Every time the left says something is racist and “suppressing votes,” I find it bewildering that so many black Americans don’t speak up and say,” are you serious? How dumb do you think we are that we need you to tell people that we can’t survive without the left treating us like children.”

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