The Return Of Civility To MD Anderson

The Return Of Civility To MD Anderson


Leonard Zwelling

In this editorial in The New York Times on Saturday, July 29, Bret Stephens explains that the beginning of the coarsening of our national discourse that culminated in the recent profanity-laced rants by the now-fired Anthony Scarimucci to The New Yorker began with the permissiveness of 1968. This is when civil disobedience and violent protests were labeled acceptable by the intelligentsia of America. Mostly this surrounded the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that August, but there was a trend toward the acceptability of what was considered bad behavior previously.

In 2016, America arrived at a place where it became acceptable to elect a crass, misogynistic bankruptcy king to the presidency despite his obvious coarseness of manner and the infantile nature of his speech and behavior. OK America, you got what you asked for. Happy?

The same cannot be said for the faculty of MD Anderson. Quite.

The faculty did not select the last president of Anderson, but it tolerated him as surely as America seems to tolerate the bad behavior of the current occupant of the White House and the disgusting manner in which he is represented by many of his spokespeople—men and women.

Fortunately, with the ad interim leadership of MD Anderson has come civility and comportment worthy of the office of President and COO. The faculty must insist that this continue when the new president is named.

The faculty cannot tolerate the preening narcissism of the last occupant of the top of Pickens as it did for six years. I know, I know, what could they have done? Answer: continue what they started when faculty members told visiting Executive Vice Chancellor Shine that the leadership of MD Anderson treated patients as if they were ATM machines. That surgeon was on the right track. Protest—but politely and with some degree of articulate expression.

Without a doubt, the new president, no matter who he or she is, will make mistakes. Big ones. When he or she does, it is the faculty’s job to speak up and protest.

The 30-40% of the country that continues to back Mr. Trump despite the fact that he is clearly inept and ignorant can take the rest of us down with them. The Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate who know better—like John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, must continue to stand up and be counted even while their Republican colleagues knuckle under. That other GOP Senators gave in to the pressure did not affect the votes of these American heroes and heroines. The same must be true on Holcombe.

When the new guy or gal arrives—no honeymoon and certainly not a six-year one. No conflicts of interest. No self-dealing. No nepotism. No coarseness. Return civility to MD Anderson as Hicks and Hahn have done, but do it on a permanent basis.

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