It seems that Harvard Medical School has recently realized that history is far from politically correct as the president has carried out her plan to remove portraits of former department heads from the school’s halls. The reason given for the removal is that all thirty-one portraits portray men. Furthermore, only one (a doctor of Chinese origin) is from an ethnic minority while the other men are white.
Harvard Medical School president Dr. Betsy Nabel recently commented that she has thought about moving the portraits for years in order to create a more accommodating environment for women students and people of color. In her mind, prominently displaying images of only white men could make students feel uncomfortable. However, the one question that no one has thought to ask is whether students who can’t handle looking at white men are really cut out to handle more difficult tasks such as urology, proctology, pathology or performing a routine autopsy. Medicine is not a field for the faint of heart, and focusing on visual microaggressions isn’t going to prepare future doctors to do their job.
Furthermore, as a current Harvard Medical School student who is both a woman and from a racial minority accurately noted, taking down portraits doesn’t really change anything. The past is set in stone, and it’s impossible to change the names and identities of people who in fact contributed greatly to the world of modern medicine.
Some of the heroes of the past who have had their portraits removed simply because they are white include Dr. Harvey Cushing, the father of neurosurgery; Benjamin Waterhouse, one of the three founders of Harvard Medical School and the person who first introduced the smallpox vaccine into the United States; Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was not only an HMS dean but also a famous physician and anatomist, and Dr. Henry Christian, the school’s first chief of medicine.
While the school’s current plan is to distribute the paintings throughout the campus and then add new paintings featuring doctors from a more diverse background, one has to wonder how the school will choose new portraits. Will there be racial quotas? What if a medical professional who makes great strides in medicine in the future happens to be a white male? Would his portrait be excluded in favor of someone who accomplished less but happens to be female and/or from an ethnic background?
It is worth noting that Harvard is already facing a lawsuit over its questionable admission policies that exclude smart, studious students of Asian origin in favor of maintaining a “diversified” campus. It would seem that this alone would cause administrators to question its overt focus on diversification rather than put an even higher priority on it.
It’s true that American history includes a great deal of racism. As liberal activists like to point out, Harvard Medical School does feature many portraits, statues and plaques of people who were not only white, but also racist by modern standards. However, the fact also remains that many of these same people were famous doctors and medical professionals whose contributions to the field of medicine have benefited men and women from all walks of life. Others were wealthy men who made large donations to the school so that it could continue its important mission. Changing building names, adding new statues and taking down portraits isn’t going to change what happened many decades ago, and it certainly won’t empower the school’s current and future students to be the best they can be in their fields.
While erasing the past in favor of creating a more politically correct future is a popular concept among the same people who also believe in the paramount importance of creating safe spaces and policing microaggressions, the fact is that some of the world’s most brutal dictators also believed in erasing the past in order to create what they viewed as a “better society”.
Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin and other tyrants also believed that purging the past to fit their present narrative was the best way to create the future they desired. Unfortunately, their efforts only resulted in oppression and lack of freedom for everyone, not only the designated “hated class”. Those who want to change the future are likely to find that the best way to do so is to openly and honestly admit that many great doctors in the past were far from perfect, and then look for ways to bring about positive change today.
~ Conservative Zone