The monsters of race still lurk in our shadows every day

01 March 2018 - 07:05
File photo.
File photo.
Image: 123rf/ Taras Tsurka

One of the most moving moments in a graduation ceremony is when the newly minted medical doctors rise to take their solemn oath.

They promise to be ethical in the conduct of medicine and to act with the highest integrity demanded of the profession. And then they might say something like this‚ as at a Wits graduation ceremony: “That I will not permit consideration of religion‚ nationality‚ race‚ politics‚ or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient.”

Even as I sat‚ moved by these oath-taking ceremonies year after year‚ I often said to myself: If only this were always true.

Last Sunday night I found myself deeply disturbed by an exhibition reminding us of the Nazi regime’s so-called science of race. Their pursuit of “racial hygiene” included gross experimentation on Jewish bodies to controlling reproduction to the extermination of those deemed to be biologically unfit. In the audience sat a handful of survivors of the Nazi death camps.

None of this racial madness was possible‚ we were reminded‚ without the deadly collaboration of scientists‚ including psychiatrists‚ geneticists‚ anthropologists and‚ of course‚ doctors.

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