My membership in the American College of Surgeons goes back almost 30 years. The 84,000-member professional society’s sole focus should be improving the standard of surgical care, but in recent years the college has made a priority of promoting critical race theory and so-called antiracism. Like many radicalized organizations, the college has taken to punishing members who raise concerns over its new agenda.
The college’s elevation of ideology—and demotion of surgery—was swift. I saw the first signs in 2019, when the college invited Joan Y. Reede to deliver its prestigious annual lecture. Dr. Reede is dean for diversity and community partnership at Harvard Medical School. The topic of her speech was “a path toward diversity, inclusion, and excellence.”
As the son of a Brazilian mother and American father, I welcomed her praise of diversity, but Dr. Reede’s speech made no meaningful mention of “excellence.” Surgery is a discipline that demands excellence in all its stages, from training to practice. Should diversity supplant quality in surgeon performance, patient care would suffer. Remarkably, Dr. Reede’s vision was met with rapturous acceptance by the college’s leadership, and the unqualified push for diversity became a lodestar for the group.