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Parents writing tuition checks may cling to a hope that the political radicalism of modern academia is largely concentrated in soft majors invented to highlight various grievances. But a new story from one of the world’s best known medical journals confirms that no area of scholarly inquiry is safe.

In a book review published over the weekend by the British medical journal the Lancet, Rhea W. Boyd writes that “as the present historical moment observes a rise in white deaths, the connections between white racial terror and premature death appear lost in public and academic discourse.” She adds:

In Dying of Whiteness, Jonathan Metzl attempts to trace these connections by probing how the armed defence of whiteness harms and sometimes kills white people too. Situating his analysis within the political landscapes of Missouri, Tennessee, and Kansas, Metzl explores how white Americans arm themselves with guns or votes, and attempt to individually secure the benefits of whiteness, shaping in the process the population health outcomes of everyone living in the wake of their political decisions—including other white people. From expansive gun legislation to broad divestment in government programmes, Metzl characterises white liberties that endanger white lives or imperil white futures as “dying of whiteness”… At times, Metzl artfully articulates and historicises the racist origins of white interest in firearm fanaticism and “small government” politics.

If someone set out to create a more offensive and less defensible version of Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” argument, they might end up with this Lancet essay. It arrives dressed up in the language of medical research, but readers should not expect to be presented with any more of a fact-based argument than Mrs. Clinton offered.

Dr. Boyd writes that “the disaggregated drivers of all-cause white mortality (conditions such as suicide, chronic liver disease, and drug and alcohol poisoning) have been described as ‘diseases of despair’ rather than diseases of disproportionate opportunity (to wield firearms) and access (to prescription opiates).” Patients suffer from mental illness and addiction because they are privileged?

The Lancet may try to explain away this screed on the grounds that it’s only a book review. But the Lancet describes itself as “a world leading medical journal” and “committed to applying scientific knowledge to improve health and advance human progress.” What does Dr. Boyd’s claim that “the consequences of structural whiteness are fatal” have to do with medicine or scientific knowledge?

Perhaps Lancet editors could start by explaining how to interpret this paragraph they just published from Dr. Boyd:

For humans to use whiteness to manufacture access and privilege, they must engineer scarcity and loss. This entanglement between access and scarcity, privilege and loss, means white people’s unearned advantages have always been tethered to a legacy of untold deaths. This is not the result of an emotional positioning, but a structural one. In Dying of Whiteness, Metzl intricately outlines this structural framework but too often anchors it to an emotional foundation his analysis both critiques and depends on. This is perhaps why his conclusion is to “Promote more healthy and self-reflective frameworks…of structural whiteness” when the only solution is to eliminate whiteness all together.

The consequences of publication could be fatal to the Lancet’s reputation.

***

Make Iran Great Again?

There’s no word yet on how well Donald Trump is polling in head-to-head match-ups with the mullahs in swing districts around Tehran and the Mashhad suburbs. But there is clearly an Iranian constituency for political reform beyond those bravely defying the regime with street protests. A Journal editorial notes:

Mr. Trump used his Twitter account to support the protesters, including a tweet in Farsi that Americans “are following your protests closely. Your courage is inspiring.” The tweet earned 200,000 likes by Sunday morning.

Saeed Ghasseminejad of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies writes on Twitter that the tweet “is already the most liked Persian tweet in the history of Twitter. A strong show of support by Iranians for Trump’s Iran policy, something the MSM does not and will not report.”

***

No End to the New Jersey Exodus

A Journal editorial last week noted that over the last decade a full 5.5% of the population of New Jersey has left for other states. On the news side of the Journal, Beth DeCarbo reports on the wealthy citizens who have been fleeing high-tax states like New Jersey for Florida, “a state with no income tax or estate tax.”

But it seems that

Gov. Phil Murphy

(D., N.J.) still isn’t getting the message. The Journal’s Joseph De Avila reports:

Mr. Murphy will address lawmakers Tuesday during his annual State of the State speech where he will give a broad outline for his agenda for the year. The speech will include a fresh appeal for higher taxes on the rich, a spokesman for the governor said.

***

In Other News

Should We Blame Whiteness or

George W. Bush

?
“Middle Age Misery Peaks at Age of 47.2, Economist Says,” Bloomberg, Jan. 13

Do As I Say, Not As I Do
“CNN Sets Record $76 Million Back Pay Settlement With National Labor Relations Board,” Variety, Jan. 10

Weak Copyright Enforcement?
“Why Does China Have 1.4 Billion People and No Good Bands?,” Foreign Policy, Jan. 11

***

Booker Bye-ku

No longer on stage

Dems demand diversity

For others not selves

***

Williamson Bye-ku

Marianne’s campaign

Ends, so she will fly back home

On her astral plane

— Stuart Creque

***

Follow James Freeman on Twitter.

Subscribe to the Best of the Web email with one click.

To suggest items, please email best@wsj.com.

(Teresa Vozzo helps compile Best of the Web. Thanks to Ethel Fenig, Tony Lima and Bill Ledsham.)

***

Mr. Freeman is the co-author of “Borrowed Time,” now available from HarperBusiness.

Copyright ©2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8





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