Sir: In my life I have seen many egregious examples of “identity politics,” but I had always thought that the sacred science of Medicine, at least, would remain a refuge from such flummery. How wrong I was! For only last night, at a cocktail party at the home of the well-known socialite Clytemnestra Pnyx, I was introduced to a supposed doctor; and when I began to ask him about the liver spots on my pancreas, he told me—I remember his exact words—“Sir, I cannot help you, as I am a doctor of puerperal medicine.”
As if color had anything to do with a man’s health! What difference does it make whether I am yellow or red or puerperal? Does the color of a man’s skin determine whether he is worthy to receive medical care? I had thought we had fought a civil war over that issue. I had been under the impression that our side had won. Yet now comes this so-called doctor and insists that he cannot help me because I do not meet his preconceived notion of the proper color for a patient of his.
I felt mortally insulted, I can tell you. Yet I did not sink so low as to make fun of the man’s comical speech defect. I for one will not denigrate a doctor on such whimsical grounds. I ask only as much of him, no more. I have a dream that one day medical patients, red, black, brown, yellow, white, green, or puerperal, will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their pancreaseses—their pancreasusseses—by their pancreatic content. Am I an unrealistic idealist? Perhaps. But I will stand up, howsoever unrealistically, for my one ideal, that the science of medicine should not be tarnished by identity politics. Who will stand with me?
Sincerely, Isambard Lemmon III, Jr.