The New Head of the AMA
by Tom Childs - July 23, 2001
Dr. Richard F. Corlin, the new AMA president
from (predictably) California, has caused something of a splash by
devoting his entire inaugural speech to an area that he knows next to
nothing about. Guns and "gun violence".
Following in lock-step with his predecessor medical brothers in Germany of the 1930s, Corlin has apparently decided that forcing the AMA into the doubtful arena of radical politics may be the means for resurrecting the dwindling AMA membership of doctors across the land. It has been documented that in Nazi Germany doctors apparently flocked to join the party, finding comfort in the authoritarian atmospherics of the fascist party. As anyone remotely familiar with the medical fraternity in the United States will likely note - or anywhere else, for that matter - medical doctors frequently appear to be more comfortable in an atmosphere in which they are the accepted authorities on everything.
Memorializing this regrettable characteristic, Dr. Corlin appears anxious that the AMA joins the politically active wave of authoritarian elitist professionals in America. He intends that the AMA should take on the Second Amendment, gun manufacturers, the NRA and legitimate gun owners throughout the country. In effect, Corlin and the AMA have decided that their members should intrude in their patients' lives, collect information about their guns and their habits, and then force anti-gun propaganda on this captive audience. In 1935, Nazi medical people were in the vanguard of similar behavior, resulting in the wholesale disarming of the entire private sector of the German nation.
Corlin endeavors to smokescreen his totalitarian intent by his insistence that "gun violence" should be categorized as a "public health crisis". Endeavoring to sound scientific, he suggests that he will inaugurate an "epidemiological" study on gun violence. This phony inclusion of "gun violence" in the list of diseases of the human body seeks to justify Corlin's later politically charged comments. "Epidemiology", according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is "the study of the incidence and distribution of diseases, and of their control and prevention." Epidemiology has no place in the political arena, and any honest medical person would admit that including "gun violence" as a "public health crisis" is pure sophistry.
Thus having declared his political colors, and virtually dragged the AMA down to the gutter level of Clinton/Gore behavior, Corlin then predictably launches the AMA into the highly charged atmospherics of loaded statistics and doubtful sources. And all of this is heralded as being "scientific"! This writer is inclined to believe that rather than turning around the hemorrhaging membership of the AMA, that Corlin may actually accelerate its decline.
As we have heard from other politically motivated activists on the Left, Corlin refers to the "uniquely American epidemic" of gun violence, and by introducing his speech with these words, the remainder becomes a sordid rehash of now tired euphemisms and left wing cant. "It is not an attack on the politics or the profits or the personalities associated with guns in our society. It isn't even" Corlin claims, "about gun control". What else can it be, when the tone has irrevocably been established by Corlin in defining America's "unique epidemic"?
Corlin tried to explain his position by stating: "I want to talk to you about the public health crisis itself..." then adding that this alleged "public health crisis" was comparable to other such "crises" as "polio" (unknown deaths in 1998, but very small number per year), "tobacco" (400,000 deaths per year) "and drunk driving" (all driving deaths about 41,000 deaths per year) (author's parenthetical additions). The fact that he included polio - all but wiped out in America today - and not America's second leading cause of unnecessary deaths - poor diet and lack of exercise (300,000 deaths per year - and growing rapidly) is symptomatic of the kind of game that Corlin is trying to play. He isn't interested in genuine health crises, any more than he is in real numbers and their composition. Corlin has targeted a politically charged fable.
It's quite clear where Corlin is going, and likely why. The one-year term of president of the AMA is a political opportunity for the ambitious doctor who fancies his own prospective future roles in society. The position permits a brief window of national visibility, and an opportunity to get his name recognized from coast to coast. Corlin has already occupied the president's position of the California Medical Association, and is also the chairman of the Audio Digest Foundation. Predictably, none of his activities or memberships provide him with any first hand knowledge of guns or shooting. In fact, like the illustrious Michael Bellesiles of Emory College, who wrote the book, Arming America, The Origins of a National Gun Culture, Corlin has invented his health crisis, and is prepared to color the statistics to support his campaign.
For anyone still in doubt about where Corlin is coming from, or how the Bellesiles comparison applies, Corlin makes it very clear. "I began by telling you how I grew up in a world without guns. That has changed for me - as it has for so many Americans." He then adds insult to his injurious mis-statement about growing up "in a world without guns." Corlin portrays the now readily identifiable bias of the politically motivated Leftist by stating that the "gun lobby doesn't want gun violence addressed as a public health issue. Because that data would define the very public health crisis that these powerful interests don't want acknowledged." He then provides the clincher to where he wants the AMA to go in securing for himself a national image.
"And the greatest risk factor associated with that violence - is access to firearms. Because", adds Corlin, with incredible insight, "there's no doubt about it - guns make the violence more violent and deadlier." Only in that brief reference does Corlin suggest that "the violence" is symptomatic of an underlying American malaise. One would assume that Corlin would propose serious efforts by the AMA towards researching and dealing with that serious problem. But no, Corlin, like so many of his brethren within the medical field today focuses narrowly on a single symptom. What he has defined - politically, not medically - as "a public health issue". Corlin does this for its political value, the same way that Barney Frank, Schumer, Feinstein, Boxer and various other political charlatans have carefully crafted emotional rallying cries without revealing their underlying political agendas. These are the apparatchniki within the Democratic Party who embody that party's revealed belief that, as H.L. Menken described it, politicians believe "the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts."
Like Bellesiles, Corlin maintains that when he was young, it was "a world without guns", although in Corlin's case there is no allegedly scholarly work supporting his absurd statement. This writer is older than Corlin and remembers fondly the shooting opportunities with his father and friends that characterized a good proportion of a year's holiday activities. Even in the California of the '50s, amidst the beatniks and acid-heads of America's future radical Left, shooting was a regularly enjoyed pass-time by a significant proportion of the populace.
What Corlin, along with the malleable Prof. Bellesiles, is endeavoring to deny, by claiming that he grew up "in a world without guns", is that guns and their unique position in America represent a legitimate role in our society. Not for murderers and not for suicides. After all, on the principle that nearly one million Americans die a year as a result of their own conscious decisions to smoke, drink and eat junk food, the relatively paltry number of 17,000 suicides each year by shooting (out of an estimated 80 million gun owners) is ridiculously insignificant - on a relative basis. And this is what Corlin would have his fellow members and the American public believe is a "public health crisis" deserving of AMA dramatization! In fact, as Corlin does point out, suicides represent the predominant shooting incidents over murders 57% to 40% - in 1998.
There's little doubt that Corlin and his uniquely insightful colleagues who supported Corlin's election have a political agenda to pursue. It is the same dishonest and un-American political agenda that was introduced by the Clintons, Janet Reno and the other totalitarian-minded Democratic elements who believe that Americans are incapable of governing themselves. This is irrevocably demonstrated by Corlin and his polarized colleagues by failing to call for a national campaign to address the astounding numbers of annual deaths due to diet, lack of exercise and the excessive use of tobacco and alcohol.
In fact, Corlin's AMA has little interest in focusing on a genuine national medical crisis, one that is growing annually at an alarming rate, but rather has determined a means of inventing an alleged health crisis in the effort to politicize the AMA. His policies are designed to encourage - and likely later require - AMA members to participate in Left-wing political intrigues to intrude on the fundamental privacy of their patients, in areas that have zero medical significance. In effect, Corlin has identified himself and his colleagues in the AMA who supported his presidency, with the same ugly elitist and dictatorial political agenda as those medical men who flocked to join the Nazi Party of the '30s in Germany.
To support his overtly anti-American proposals, Corlin claims that there have been "since 1962, more than a million Americans" who have died "in firearms suicides, homicides, and unintentional injuries." That suggests about 25,000 firearms deaths per year, although Corlin points out, in 1998 there were over 30,000 firearms related deaths. Of those, 17,000 were suicides, and 12,000 homicides. Endeavoring to make the most of his raw (un-scientifically analyzed) data, Corlin then compares those numbers to the figures in Germany, Australia and the U.K. where the figures were far smaller. He neglects to point out that in both Australia and the U.K., where gun ownership is next to impossible for the private citizen now, the incidence of gun related crimes in the last year has sky-rocketed. But no doubt when Corlin organizes his "scientific" brethren in the epidemiological study he is urging, these facts will be considered - and discarded.
What Corlin has done is simply invent some useful numbers for shock value. All anti-gun groups have followed this same procedure, just as Bellesiles provides his highly edited account of our pre-Revolutionary fore-fathers as being a bunch of bubble-headed flower children schlepping around the forests of Colonial America un-armed and without any use for firearms.
Had Corlin chosen to seriously launch the AMA on a genuine public health crisis, combating the growing numbers of deaths attributable to poor diet and lack of exercise, he would have only had to go back a little over 3 years to obtain the magic million death figure - not 39 years!
But no - Corlin - due in part to the regrettable murder of one of his colleagues by a gun toting crazy, has chosen to focus on a politically correct niche in America's alleged health crises, and drag the AMA into a political game of Russian roulette that may - hopefully - result in accelerated member resignations. More significantly, however, Corlin illustrates an extremely alarming trend amongst politically correct so-called "professionals". It is the adoption of Clintonesque elitist and authoritarian agendas, which are ultimately motivated by contempt for the American public and our democratic institutions. Even in America there should be no room for such behavior, and those groups that insist on evidencing this totalitarian prejudice should be marginalized and ultimately reduced to ineffectual roles in our society.
There is something that can immediately be
done to combat Corlin and his fellow travelers. Everyone reading these
words and concerned about the direction of the AMA should interview their
doctors, and establish whether they intend to follow the Corlin line. If
they do - fire the SOBs, and find a less ideological member of the
profession, more concerned with medicine, and less with politics.
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