Open Letter to APHA, re: Leana Wen [EXTERNAL]
This is my first time writing in this forum. I am not writing to encourage anyone to sign, or not sign, the letter referenced below. Each person should make their own informed choice.
But I do want to encourage all of us to think about what it means to foster dialogue rather than cancellation. An op-ed about the letter below came out in yesterday's Boston Globe (I apologize if there is a firewall - I think maybe everyone is allowed a couple of free article a month?): https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/08/18/opinion/an-absurd-disturbing-cancel-campaign-public-health/
Katherine Ratzan Peeler MD, MA
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | Division of Medical Critical Care | Boston Children’s Hospital
Medical Director | Harvard Student Human Rights Collaborative Asylum Clinic
Department of Global Health and Social Medicine | Harvard Medical School
Center for Bioethics | Harvard Medical School
@katiehale29 | https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/peelerimmigrationlab
From: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org> on behalf of Dick Powis <richard.powis@...>
Sent: Friday, August 19, 2022 2:17 PM
To: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [society-for-medical-anthropology] Open Letter to APHA, re: Leana Wen [EXTERNAL]
Dear Colleagues in the Health Sciences,
You may remember a few months ago, there was an open letter circulating about AAA’s choice for keynote speaker, Chris Murray, and the demand to rescind his invitation.
There is now a similar letter circulating calling for the American Public Health Association to rescind their invitation to Leana Wen. You can read that letter here and you may sign it through this Google Form if you wish. The authors will be submitting the letter to APHA on Monday morning.
Dick Powis, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Public Health, University of South Florida
Chercheur postdoctoral, Faculté de santé publique, Université de Floride du Sud
Thank you so much Katherine for sending this link - FYI, no firewall on my end. The op ed is short (in other words, people, it will take you only two minutes to read) and it provides good food for thought, as does your encouragement to "think about what it means [and I'll add: takes] to foster discussion." Inviting conversation doesn't always work, but still, I am reminded of Loretta Ross's position on calling in vs calling out (e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/17/opinion/sunday/cancel-culture-call-out.html, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/17/opinion/sunday/cancel-culture-call-out.html. Best, EJ.
Elisa (EJ) Sobo - https://anthropology.sdsu.edu/people/soboProfessor of Anthropology
Director of Undergraduate Research
College of Arts and Letters
San Diego State University
A Proud Hispanic Serving Institution
Recent research publications:
Hello, Katie,toggle quoted message Show quoted text
Thanks for guiding me to this article. It’s painful and frustrating and all too common.
I am involved in trying to write about biomedicine and its history, and like it or not, this business of cancelling someone for espousing ideas the mainstream (however defined) doesn’t like is very common. Those who can stay the course often find their ideas finally accepted. I can list a few for you: Semmelweis died 1865 was blackballed for showing that washing your hands when you went from autopsy suite to delivery suite saved the lives of mothers; he died in an insane asylum, so viciously did his colleagues attack him. The same idea made more sense after the Civil War…but remained argued for another 30+ years. Linus Pauling, who won two Nobel Prizes all by himself, began to overuse and oversell Vitamin C in the 1970s and got the rapid blackball exit as well. Candace Pert, who wrote Molecules of Emotion, which brought emotion out of ‘mind’ and into ‘body’ (so to speak) was also treated as anathema by her NIH colleagues. I don’t know anything about Wen myself—I read the article—and I am guessing she is caught in the same anti-everything net that Americans seem totally devoted to nowadays. When my book comes out, I fully expect to be excoriated for saying the the U.S. needs a functional plural system to deliver quality medical care, with biomedicine relegated to tertiary care (what it does well), and others like East Asian Medicine and chiropractic taking on more primary and secondary tasks. I hope I can stand the attacks—you can see that almost anyone is attacked today, death threats and all, and it’s all stressful and utterly unnecessary.
Which last word is what you are saying, as I understand it.
Good luck—may your distress move a couple of mountains.
Claire M Cassidy, PhD, Dipl Ac, LAc, NCCAOM
Associate Editor, J of Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Ph: + 301-370-9991
Bethesda MD, USA
I just want to point out that David Zwieg, author of that Boston Globe op-ed, supported the Great Barrington Declaration. He’s a covid minimizer.
Leana Wen is a careerist who has used the high public profile she built for herself (doing shoddy work, I may add) to reach even greater visibility as a CNN medical analyst. She gets paid very well for this while working from home- something most people can’t do. Same as Ashish Jha, Monica Gandhi, Jennifer Nuzzo, and others.
These people may not be in the Great Barrington camp but their overemphasis on moving entirely away from non-pharmaceutical interventions and to the full marketization of existing covid treatment is horrendous. These treatments do nothing to prevent transmission and the many sequelae that can occur as a result of infection- clots that can cause strokes, end organ damage, long covid, etc.
The treatments are being used to justify the end of the few remaining meager protections, a tacit admission that a vaccine that decreases your chances of death/severe hospitalization means it’s good enough for you to return to work, to send your kids to school, to forget about covid and continue selling your labor and putting your life on the line for capital.
I say this as someone who’s a poc, trained in anthro and about to graduate from med school to pursue primary care (where concern for the pandemic has largely disappeared). This isn't about dialogue, it’s about realizing that our analysis needs to be better- more materialistic, more class-based, less focused on liberal notions of “equity and diversity” that do nothing but window dress fundamentally undemocratic and elite institutions and the wealthy people that govern them.
I’m happy to send along more in-depth articles/essays/interviews that expand on the very quick message I wrote above. Also happy to elaborate and clarify as needed, and apologies for typos.