Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa


Leonard Zwelling

In a recent blog called “Fighting Evil” (April 15), I touched upon three large themes.

The first was about how I thought that those who have served evil leaders need to be held accountable for their deeds in service to that leader and not be rewarded with good jobs and powerful positions after their tenure of service to the tyrant is over. I was concerned that this was the opposite of what is happening at MD Anderson today.

The second was how right thinking leaders and regular citizens can alter the norms of society, even as those norms were sullied by the likes of Donald Trump and Ron DePinho. In essence, in both the cases of the current leadership in Washington and the former leadership of 1515, those who supported that leadership must be held accountable for their service and those who opposed that poor leadership must act to correct the tarnished organization. I believe that the Faculty Senate ought to act now to get answers about the current scientific leadership or lack thereof at Anderson. Don’t wait to challenge authority as the faculty did under the last president.

Finally, I wrote about the latest apparent purge at Anderson of those of Chinese heritage that the current leadership seems to condone as the immediate past leadership of Anderson did nothing when the Jews of Anderson were sent packing.

Mien-Chie Hung was an author on this letter to Science about this very topic.

Not surprisingly, I got a little feedback on all of this.

First, there was support for the idea that the Jews of Anderson had indeed been purged in the not too distant past and that the methods used against the Chinese were honed to perfection in a wave of anti-Semitism a few years back. This is something this blog addressed several years ago when that purge was occurring.

Second was a comment that my support for immigration as a means to support the growth of the American economy ought to be limited to support for legal immigration and that’s a very valid criticism.

Finally, a long time reader took me to task about how I had previously found little difference between the two contenders for the 2016 presidential election. He’s right. Clinton may have been bad, but not as bad as Trump. I agree. Mea culpa.

This reader also criticized my very tepid support for the ACA and my past thinking that repeal and replace may have been a valid choice. Well, I still am not crazy about the ACA which sustains the current system of private insurance instead of a more broad-based system that insures everyone, but he’s right again. Repeal and replace would have been even worse. Mea culpa again. But it is important to remember that the ACA and RomneyCare in Massachusetts circa 2006 were based on ideas emanating from the Heritage Foundation in 1989. Thus, ObamaCare is a Republican idea and not a very good one either.

As the reader/writer says, I do change my mind. I actually take pride in that fact and think it’s a sign of being rational. Sticking to one’s guns when one’s guns are out of ammo is not a viable solution.

This blog will continue to call them as I see them and be more than happy to admit to error. I sure as heck am not perfect.

All that being said, I am still deeply concerned about the dark forces in society taking precedence over the forces of good—in Washington and on Holcombe. I am afraid we have to wait until November 2020 to do anything definitive about Washington. As for Holcombe, I think the faculty cannot be tepid yet again and must rise to the occasion and make it clear that the leadership being selected for that faculty is severely wanting thus far during the Fifth Iteration of the MD Anderson Presidency.

You can’t lead MD Anderson from a book and you can’t lead it without understanding what research really is and what it is for. Research is intrinsically of value. As the statue said in the beginning of Animal House, “Knowledge Is Good.” Research also must be translatable into actual benefit for mankind, especially patients. Finally, if research can be commercialized into a product that serves man—great, but that is a bonus and should not be the primary driver of research at an academic institution. That’s for drug and biotech companies to do.

It is critical that the leadership of MD Anderson get this right and that either the Chief Academic Officer or the Chief Scientific Officer be a person who really gets academic research with real credentials. I leave that to you readers (and writers) as to whether that is the case at present.

I am happy to admit my mistakes. Will anyone else? Leaders-are you listening?

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