There were a couple of interesting developments in the “White people are evil” movement over the last few weeks. First, psychiatrist Dr. Aruna Khilanani gave a lecture to the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center on April 6. The title of the lecture itself is an ode to the “White people are evil” ideology: “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind.” But, Dr. Khilanani outdid herself with her statement during the lecture that, “I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a f****** favor.” Note that these are not the words of an Indian-American woman who has been held back by a White oppressive system to forever remain chained to poverty and sub-standard housing. This is an Indian-American woman who has a PhD in psychiatry and lectures at Ivy League universities.
Dr. Khilanani took some heat for her lecture. Dr. Carol Swain, retired professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, said that Dr. Khilanani was “unfit to practice medicine.” Neera Kuckreja Sohoni, writing for India West online news outlet, accused Dr. Khilanani of “viciously destroying our [Indian-American] legacy and shaming all of us as one.” Yale University has distanced itself from Dr. Khilanani after several faculty members communicated their concerns about the lecture to the Yale School of Medicine’s Office of Academic and Professional Development, as well as the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Yale issued a statement over the following weekend that read, “Based on these concerns, School of Medicine leaders, including Dean Brown and Deputy Dean Latimore, in consultation with the chair of the Child Study Center, reviewed a recording of the talk and found the tone and content antithetical to the values of the school.” Still, Yale University did not condemn the content of her lecture, but only described it as “antithetical to the values of the school.” Dr. Khilanani has not lost her job.
In a second example of the “White people are evil” ideology, Dr. Donald Moss, researcher and instructor at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, published a paper on May 27 in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association entitled “On Having Whiteness” in which he claimed that “Whiteness is … a malignant, parasitic-like condition.” I could not find a copy of Dr. Moss’ paper to read, but here is the abstract:
“Whiteness is a condition one first acquires and then one has—a malignant, parasitic-like condition to which ‘white’ people have a particular susceptibility. The condition is foundational, generating characteristic ways of being in one’s body, in one’s mind, and in one’s world. Parasitic Whiteness renders its hosts’ appetites voracious, insatiable, and perverse. These deformed appetites particularly target nonwhite peoples. Once established, these appetites are nearly impossible to eliminate. Effective treatment consists of a combination of psychic and social-historical interventions. Such interventions can reasonably aim only to reshape Whiteness’s infiltrated appetites—to reduce their intensity, redistribute their aims, and occasionally turn those aims toward the work of reparation. When remembered and represented, the ravages wreaked by the chronic condition can function either as warning (‘never again’) or as temptation (‘great again’). Memorialization alone, therefore, is no guarantee against regression. There is not yet a permanent cure.”
It goes without saying that, if you took “Whiteness” out of this paper and replaced it with any other racial or ethnic identifier, there is no way in hell this paper would have been published. Well, perhaps in 1940 Germany or 1955 Alabama, but not anywhere in the Western world in 2021.
Like Dr. Khilanani, Dr. Moss has taken criticism for his paper, much of it in the vein of calling the paper racist psychobabble. I have to admit that, in reading just the abstract, “psychobabble” did come to my mind. Dr. Philip Pellegrino, a Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Pennsylvania, tweeted in response to Dr. Moss’ paper, “How do my colleagues consider this scholarship? What’s the deal with these journals? Is it that no one cares anymore and they’re just mailing it in, or are they scared to offend the ‘woke’ mob, or are they ideologically driven? Does science even factor into this anywhere?” Again, though, no one is talking about Dr. Moss losing his job, and the Journal of the American Psychoanalytical Association did see fit to publish his paper.
It seems there is a theory adhered to by a large number of politicians, social activists, and academics that the solution to racism is racism. The only difference is their recommending changing the racial group that is targeted for discrimination, hatred, and violence. This should not be surprising, given the human condition. Of course, this will solve nothing. People are broken, regardless of their racial or ethnic background. Any rise to power, or even to majority or preferred status, will almost always lead to presuming the privilege of discriminating and hating those who are sufficiently different. There is no racial or ethnic group that is immune from this tendency, because we are all people, and people are broken, chained to sin and infected with concupiscence.
So, what is the solution? As a Catholic, I am absolutely convinced that the only solution is a commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, man or woman (Gal 3:28). This is not to say that all in the Church have been free from the sin of racism. It is to say that all those who give themselves wholeheartedly to the gospel of Jesus Christ will, if only eventually, recognize racism as sin and desire and work toward eliminating such sin in their own hearts and in society, since it is the work of those committed to Christ to transform themselves and society according to the values of the gospel. Because of the inherent brokenness of the human person, I do not see another solution.
Prayer of St. Thomas More:
O Lord, give us a mind that is humble, quiet, peaceable, patient and charitable, and a taste of your Holy Spirit in all our thoughts, words and deeds. O Lord, give us a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of you. Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation and all dullness in prayer. Give us fervor and delight in thinking of you, your grace, and your tender compassion toward us. Give us, good Lord, the grace to work for the things we pray for. Amen.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.