Academics Seek to Cancel Progressive Doctor

America’s colleges are so left-wing that even a progressive doctor who once headed Planned Parenthood is facing calls that she be canceled as a speaker. The College Fix reports on how public-health professors are trying to cancel her speech:

More than 400 public health professionals and “allies” wrote a statement calling for the cancellation of Leana Wen as keynote speaker for the 2022 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, accusing the doctor, columnist, and health policy scholar of promoting harmful health policies. “Through her platform on news outlets and social media, Dr. Wen … has promoted unscientific, unsafe, ableist, fatphobic, and unethical practices during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the statement.

Public health professors Dabney Evans at Emory University and Caryn Bell at Tulane were among the many academics who signed their names to the letter. Other signatories included University of Washington nursing professor Nora Kenworthy and Boston College global health professor Tara Casebolt.

As examples of “unsafe” or “unscientific” recommended practices, the letter cited several op-eds by Wen, including one suggesting that COVID-19 infection should be understood as a “new normal,another arguing that COVID-19 closure learning loss has harmed children, and a third suggesting that municipalities should lift some COVID restrictions.

The letter also cited as “fatphobic” a tweet from Wen to Krispy Kreme asking that they refrain from giving away free donuts to encourage vaccination.

Wen is research professor of health policy and management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute of Public Health and a contributing op-ed columnist for The Washington Post. She is also the former president of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion vendor. … In an op-ed for the Washington Post in February 2022, she warned against the “extreme” view of “offer[ing]” no reasonable endpoint for restrictions and mak[ing] continued masking a symbol of their belief in science.” …

Vinay Prasad, a hematologist-oncologist and epidemiology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, tweeted a video of himself criticizing the letter on Wednesday. “Open letter to APHA says Leana Wen was on wrong side of abortion debate (She is not pro-choice enough as former Pres of Planned Parenthood!) & is ‘fatphobic’ b/c she says eating Krispy Kreme EVERY DAY is bad,” he tweeted….The statement concluded with demands that the American Public Health Association rescind its speaking invitation to Wen and replace her with “someone who is capable and can speak to evidence-based practices rooted in a collective responsibility for health equity.”

The attacks on Wen for opposing school closures shows just how extreme these so-called “public health professors” are. School closings increased societal mortality rates.

Advocates of school closings claimed they were needed to protect people’s health. But by driving up obesity rates, school closings harmed students’ health. And shutting schools actually increases COVID-19 deaths, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh.

Many kids became fatter when schools closed to in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

[Related: “Reflections on the Tyranny of Campus COVID Restrictions”]

“Overweight or obesity increased among 5- through 11-year-olds from 36.2% to 45.7% during the pandemic, an absolute increase of 8.7% and relative increase of 23.8%,” noted the Journal of the American Medical Association.

That’s made the effects of the pandemic much worse.

“The evidence linking obesity to adverse COVID-19 outcomes is ‘overwhelmingly clear,’” say health experts. Over half of all people hospitalized for the coronavirus are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Children almost never die of the coronavirus, but they can suffer a lot from it, if they are fat. Obese people are much more likely to require hospitalization when they contract the coronavirus.

Closing schools did not prevent COVID from spreading. Moreover, “schools do not, in fact, appear to be major spreaders of COVID-19,” said Brown University Professor Emily Oster. And “even if there were no spread in schools, we’d see some cases” among students and teachers, “because students and teachers can contract the disease off campus.” There is “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to community transmission,” according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

“Researchers from Yale University surveyed more than 57,000 U.S. child care providers.…They found no association between contracting the virus and exposure to child care,” reported the American Academy of Pediatrics. Studies find that children are less likely to contract the virus than adults and also less likely to spread it.

In the past, the CDC has pointed out that closing schools “can lead to severe learning loss,” and that school closures kill more children than COVID. Moreover, “extended closures can be harmful to children’s mental health and can increase the likelihood that children engage in unhealthy behaviors.” As the head of the CDC noted in 2020, among the young, “we’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose” due to school closings.

In Virginia, school closings contributed to the “biggest collapse in pass rates in the history” of standardized testing, noted journalist James A. Bacon. Schools where students learned only online had a 35.7% decline in pass rates, much worse than schools that remained open to in-person learning.

Politics, not public health, was behind most decisions to keep schools closed. Local officials’ decisions were driven mainly by teachers “union influence and politics, not safety,” reported Reason Magazine. It noted that Jon Valant, a researcher at the liberal Brookings Institution, found that decisions to keep schools closed were driven by politics, not levels of “COVID-19 risk.” Left-wing teachers unions repeatedly thwarted school reopenings. Some used “sick-outs” to shut down schools and force school boards to delay school openings.


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Liberty Unyielding on August 19, 2022 and is crossposted here with permission.

Image: Elvert Barnes, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader is a senior attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

4 thoughts on “Academics Seek to Cancel Progressive Doctor

  1. I’m no fan of the silencing of alternate opinions, but I’m confused by this statement: “The evidence linking obesity to adverse COVID-19 outcomes is ‘overwhelmingly clear: Over half of all people hospitalized for the coronavirus are overweight or obese.” In the US and much of the industrialized world, rates of obesity + overweight are about 70%. So if only 50% of the hospitalized cases are overweight or obese, that would actually suggest a protect effect of obesity. So what are the numbers?

  2. The left has got away with so much: defund the police, “bail reform”, tolerance of rioting and looting. Why? Because it doesn’t affect them. So what if fewer police makes some neighborhoods more dangerous. You live in a (mostly white) upscale neighborhood that is virtually crime free. The police don’t show up in your neighborhood anyway (they don’t have to) so fewer police won’t affect you.

    Well the same has been going on in academia for decades. Conservative speakers get canceled. The woke mob comes after republican professors. As long as that was the extent of it, no problem.

    But now the worm has turned. The woke mob won’t tolerate dissent. It is now leftist professors who are beginning to get targeted more and more. Look for the left to start saying maybe this woke mob stuff has gone too far and it needs to be stopped. Frankly, I’m enjoying this. It’s about time the left suffers from their own policies.

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