Home/Rod Dreher/Old White Lives Don’t Matter

Old White Lives Don’t Matter

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It is harder to think of a more effective way of preparing the United States for open and violent racial conflict than by coming up with a scheme by which some Americans, by virtue of their race, are permitted to receive the vaccine against a deadly pandemic before others. But that’s what we are doing. More:

Every US state has been advised to consider ethnic minorities as a critical and vulnerable group in their vaccine distribution plans, according to Centers for Disease Control guidance.

As a result, half of the nation’s states have outlined plans that now prioritize black, Hispanic and indigenous residents over white people in some way, as the vaccine rollout begins.

According to our analysis, 25 states have committed to a focus on racial and ethnic communities as they decided which groups should be prioritized in receiving a coronavirus vaccine dose.


In the US, black people — and Latinx people — are almost three times more likely to die from Covid-19 then whites, according to the CDC, due to economic disparities.

Rates of hospitalization and death from Covid-19 among Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans are also two to four times higher than for whites.

Yet a recent Kaiser survey showed that more than one third of black Americans remain hesitant to get a vaccine.

It found that black Americans are among the groups least likely to want to get vaccinated against coronavirus, even if a scientist deem vaccines safe, effective and the shots are given for free.

But why are black and Latino people almost three times more likely to die from Covid? I’m sure we will be told that it’s “structural racism.” The story talks about how racial preferences for the Covid vaccine are justified by health authorities on the grounds of “equity.” Whenever you see the word equity, you should know that it means racial discrimination to equalize outcome. 

And here, we are talking about access to a vaccine to prevent a deadly disease. People are going to be denied equal access to vaccination against this disease based on the color of their skin. Look, authorities really do have to prioritize access to the vaccine, given that we don’t have enough doses for everybody. Whatever their race, the elderly and essential workers justifiably move to the head of the line. But privileging people’s access to vaccine by skin color? Really? The New York Times reports:

An independent committee of medical experts that advises the C.D.C. on immunization practices will soon vote on whom to recommend for the second phase of vaccination — “Phase 1b.” In a meeting last month, all voting members of the committee indicated support for putting essential workers ahead of people 65 and older and those with high-risk health conditions.

Historically, the committee relied on scientific evidence to inform its decisions. But now the members are weighing social justice concerns as well, noted Lisa A. Prosser, a professor of health policy and decision sciences at the University of Michigan.

“To me the issue of ethics is very significant, very important for this country,” Dr. Peter Szilagyi, a committee member and a pediatrics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said at the time, “and clearly favors the essential worker group because of the high proportion of minority, low-income and low-education workers among essential workers.”

That position runs counter to frameworks proposed by the World Health Organization, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and many countries, which say that reducing deaths should be the unequivocal priority and that older and sicker people should thus go before the workers, a view shared by many in public health and medicine.

Look at this:

Marc Lipsitch, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, argued that teachers should not be included as essential workers, if a central goal of the committee is to reduce health inequities.

“Teachers have middle-class salaries, are very often white, and they have college degrees,” he said. “Of course they should be treated better, but they are not among the most mistreated of workers.”

What the hell? The race of teachers should count against them in determining whether or not they should be prioritized for vaccine, according to a Harvard epidemiologist? My jaw is on the floor. What if, instead of the word “white,” we substituted the word “Jewish”? How would Dr. Lipsitch feel then?

These people are racists, straight up. And they are elites who run this country and its institutions. Here’s what another white Ivy League professor told the Times:

Harald Schmidt, an expert in ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said that it is reasonable to put essential workers ahead of older adults, given their risks, and that they are disproportionately minorities. “Older populations are whiter, ” Dr. Schmidt said. “Society is structured in a way that enables them to live longer. Instead of giving additional health benefits to those who already had more of them, we can start to level the playing field a bit.”

Die, old white people. Just die. Your white lives are not worth as much to Ivy League professors, or the public health authorities, as the lives of others.

The reader who pointed this out to me adds:

This is exactly what I’m talking about and have been warning about for almost five years. It will always come down to death. Distributing death and life to meet racial quotas.
At what point is this too oppressive and evil to tolerate? When do we reach Locke’s threshold? …We have an elite that is obsessed with death and suicide and power. Trump is small potatoes compared to what is coming and what is here.
Meanwhile, the forces of “social justice” continue marching through scientific institutions. Here’s news from Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia. Haverford has been convulsed by “antiracist” strikes — which, of course, are all about institutionalizing left-wing racism. Excerpts:

Without any overarching guidance from the administration, faculty members took a number of different approaches to respond to the two-week interruption in classes caused by the strike and finish the semester.

One notable response came from the Biology department. Before the strike had even ended, the department had discontinued classes for the remainder of the semester in order to focus on redesigning the curriculum with equity and inclusion in mind. All classes, including thesis sections, were canceled outright. The department adjusted thesis requirements and deadlines to reflect this change.

Writing in the Jewish magazine Tablet, bioethicist Ashley K. Fernandes explores why so many German doctors became Nazis. Excerpts:

It is worthy of emphasis that although many professions (including law) were “taken in” by Nazi philosophy, doctors and nurses had a peculiarly strong attraction to it. Robert N. Proctor (1988) notes that physicians joined the Nazi party in droves (nearly 50% by 1945), much higher than any other profession. Physicians were seven times more likely to join the SS than other employed German males. Nurses were also major collaborators.The Holocaust should be studied by every health care professional as a reminder of how sacred the substance of our craft is, and what the consequences may be if we forget the dignity of persons again.


In 1942, and as a direct result of a deep-seated tradition of anti-Semitism within the German medical community, the Christian churches, and Europe in general, the “Final Solution” was proposed—the murder of the entire European Jewish population. Nazi medicine, through what can only be called, in modern terms, “advocacy,” had a profoundly negative effect on culture. Physicians, dressed in white coats, gave the imprimatur that indeed, those that were to be gassed were not human persons at all:

At every turn, the annihilation procedures were supervised—and, in a perverse sense, dignified—through the presence of medical staff. … We may say the doctor standing at the ramp represented a kind of omega point, a mythical gatekeeper between the worlds of the dead and the living, a final common pathway of the Nazi vision of therapy via mass murder.

The killing of 6 million Jewish persons and 9 million “others”—could only have been accomplished through a buy-in into a twisted philosophical anthropology. Science alone could not accomplish this destruction, because science never stands alone. So, although we may not kill persons, we may kill animals, vegetables, and subhumans. What the Nazis needed was a philosophy to define out of lives inconvenient to the goals of the Race, and then science to do the killing. This is why the Holocaust can be deemed a “bioethical assault” on human personhood.

And here, on the need to stand against language that dehumanizes others, and prepares us to accept the normally unacceptable:

Whatever the reason—dissimilarity or something more sinister—language alters perception, and perception affects our ethical calculus. For example, to build support for euthanasia of the disabled, Nazi filmmakers deliberately altered lighting on the faces of the disabled, to make them more “inhuman” in their appearance. Purposeful and dramatic dehumanization has the same ultimate outcome on our perception as slow, chronic dehumanization. Simple gestures—such as standing up against such language publicly when people dehumanize or showing personalistic leadership through examples of patience and even tenderness at the bedside—will do much to begin reversing this narrative.

By “personalism,” Fernandes means seeing people as individuals first, possessing equal dignity as others. One more quote from Fernandes:

Finally, a fifth lesson to be learned is that, as a physician, you must serve the patient exclusively—not some abstracted idea of “society.” Physicians and health professionals in the Holocaust decided that the good of the racial state took precedence over the good of individual persons. “Nazi doctors hailed a move ‘from the doctor of the individual to the doctor of the nation.’” The justification for the euthanasia program, in large part, was couched in economic terms—a cost-saving measure for society in a time of scarcity.

Today, we seem to be losing more of our commitment to the individual patient—for there are other “gods” in medicine. “Quality of life,” “public health,” or even “patient satisfaction” have become ends in themselves, not a means to an end.

Read it all. 

Now here we are with Ivy League elites and public health authorities deciding that denying the vaccine to certain people — white people — because of their race, is right because of “social justice.” And we are training new generations of medical personnel in this racist philosophy.

I hear some of you now: Don’t you get why we vote for Trump? Yes, I would — if that made any kind of difference. All of this has accelerated while Donald Trump has been in the White House. You know that, right?

We are in a world of trouble in this country. The cultural Left, especially the elites, are preparing us all to be at each other’s throats on the basis of race. Why can’t they see this? Honestly, have they learned nothing from history?

UPDATE: Reader Njoseph points to this Kevin Drum piece, which says the CDC is not deprioritizing old white people because of their race. I don’t see that. The two Ivy League ethicists I quoted openly say that whiteness is a strike against early vaccination. The CDC committee member says they should vaccinate frontline workers “because of the high proportion of minority, low-income and low-education workers among” them — in other words, because in part they are people of color. These experts are saying flat-out that social justice requires deprioritizing certain demographics because of color. You can call it “giving priority to the marginalized,” but it’s the same thing. We always find euphemisms for things we know we shouldn’t be doing.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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