(No S for scepticism or N for Nuance)
A disturbing document that reflects ideological thinking in the UK National Health Service (NHS) briefly appeared on a public facing part of the NHS website before it was taken down and hidden in a password-protected area. Presumably, this was to ensure that the taxpayers who fund the NHS are not aware of the sort of ideological thinking that operates behind the scenes. You wouldn’t want a white cis-gender male to read the NHS Diversity A-Z and discover he belongs to a common enemy identity group before seeking medical care. Luckily for us all, the Spectator caught it before it was taken down and posted the entries from A -Z, verbatim on its website here. The divisive nature of the document was quickly highlighted on social media and parts the ‘legacy media’ including the Daily Mail here, the Daily Telegraph here, and the Daily Express here. It is disappointing that no left leaning outlets, The Guardian for example, highlighted this toxic document that is a threat to some the most disadvantaged members of society.
The document buys into the most contentious aspects of Social Justice Theory and offers no perspective, criticism, or nuance. The document highlights the work of Peggy McIntosh and Robin di’Angelo without giving context. There have been well argued critiques of the work of these ‘scholars’ for example Cynical Theories by Helen Pluckrose that could have been cited. Social Justice Theory (SJT) would be better described as an ideology rather than a theory that should contain testable propositions. Instead, the underpinnings of SJT are largely tautological and rely on ‘Kafka traps’ to stifle debate – if you disagree that is proof of your fragility and therefore guilt.
Although The ‘NHS Diversity A-Z’ reflects SJT in general, significant parts of it are given over to feminism. So, on with the feminist aspects of the document….
P is for Patriarchy
Patriarchy describes a system or culture of male dominating form of power over women. Patriarchy is a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is through the male line. More broadly patriarchy is a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. This concept of patriarchy underpins much of feminist thought.
What is lacking here is balance. Patriarchy theory is one model among many that accounts for the differences between men and women. There is a respectable school of thought that not all differences between men and women are accounted for by social factors. Most people would agree that poorly understood interactions between culture and biology are operating.
W is for white fragility
Coined by DiAngelo defined as a ‘state in which even a minimum of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves’ by white people. The process of white fragility means white people defend against and avoid acknowledging and working with their own racism.
Fragility is part of the human condition and we all suffer from it to some extent. When our cherished beliefs are challenged we don’t always react well. No evidence is presented that white people are more affected by fragility. Feminists certainly are vulnerable to this vice, look at what happened to those men who challenged aspects of feminism and lost their jobs at the behest of outrage mobs – see post Victims of Feminist Intolerance.
A term coined by Peggy McIntosh where she describes White privilege is like “an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks”.
‘I have often noticed men’s unwillingness to grant that they are over privileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. They may say they will work to women’s statues, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can’t or won’t support the idea of lessening men. Denials that amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages that men gain from women’s disadvantages. These denials protect male privilege from being fully acknowledged, lessened, or ended.
Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of white privilege that was similarly denied and protected. As a white person,
Putting aside the highly divisive concept of ‘white privilege’ you will note the bait and switch that has been performed in the narrative. It is white male privilege that is being discussed. This section is simply a manifestation of common enemy identity politics.
Lived Experience – links to social determinants of health
Increasingly listening to the voices of lived experience helps us make sense of the ways in which discrimination impacts our health and wellbeing, as well as determining our social, economic and educational life chances.
Studies by Williams, Marmott and more recently Lawrence use lived experience to understand the social determinants of health and the impact of racial discrimination.
“It is often said, but perhaps not fully appreciated, that behind each statistic is a human story. For me, amplifying the voices of those who are all too often invisible has been the driving force behind my many years of campaigning”.
We should listen carefully to the stories of others but the lived experience approach is about more than that. It is about the lived experience of marginalised groups (defined by the high priestesses of the Social Justice movement) and even then only it conforms to accepted narratives. The limitations of ‘lived experience’ were discussed in the post of May 26th Lived Experience.
This post contains only a few excerpts from the document but enough to illustrate the degree to which common enemy identity politics is infiltrating the NHS and other national institutions. Imagine how you would feel as a patient due to be admitted for surgery knowing that you are viewed by the organisation as the problematic recipient of white privilege. Or imagine applying for a job in the NHS knowing that this ‘Social Justice Ideology’ was prevalent in the organisation.