We humans are capable of abstract thought. That’s a good thing, but we also value the concrete, the personal, in many ways more than the abstract.
So psychiatrist Aruna Khilanani’s recent virulently racist and violent rant at Yale School of Medicine comes as good news. It puts a human face on critical race theory and allows people who may not be familiar with CRT both to grasp what it is and to better understand the type of person who embraces it. In order to put a stop to its pernicious teachings, information about it and its adherents needs to be spread as widely as possible.
To that end, former New York Times editor, Bari Weiss’s blog, Common Sense, provides an excellent service. It not only offers an audio recording of Khilanani’s full address at Yale, but also an interview of her by journalist Katie Herzog. Now, the audio quality of the recording isn’t great, but it’s understandable. And Herzog, being a liberal, buys into portions of Khilanani’s nonsense and so renders the interview less rigorous than I’d have wished. But, all in all, the linked-to page is a goldmine for anyone wanting to understand CRT and the CRT mindset.
First the speech. It’s gotten a good bit of pushback and with good reason. Yale physician and professor Nicholas Christakis offered one of the mildest rebukes when he said “The racism expressed by Dr. Aruna Khilanani … is deeply worrisome & counter-productive,” and that “her views must be soundly rejected.” Others have called for her license to practice psychiatry to be revoked.
After all, Khilanani entitled her talk “The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind.” Her ideas that (a) something called “the white mind” exists and (b) that the said “white mind” is “psychopathic” should be enough to at least question her judgment and qualifications as a mental health professional. Do her white patients know that she groups all whites as having a particular set of mental/emotional traits that other races don’t have? Do they know that she considers them to be psychopaths from the moment she first identifies their race? Someone needs to file a complaint and the licensing agency for New York State needs to decide just how destructive Khilanani may be to her patients.
So much for the good news, i.e., the title of the speech and what it connotes. Things get worse from there, much worse. Here are a few of the pithier quotations from Khilanani’s lecture:
This is the cost of talking to white people at all. The cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil.
I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a fucking favor.
White people are out of their minds and they have been for a long time.
We keep forgetting that directly talking about race is a waste of our breath. We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero, to accept responsibility. It ain’t gonna happen. They have five holes in their brain.
We need to remember that directly talking about race to white people is useless, because they are at the wrong level of conversation. Addressing racism assumes that white people can see and process what we are talking about. They can’t. That’s why they sound demented. They don’t even know they have a mask on. White people think it’s their actual face.
That’s just a taste. The rabid anger, the racist hatred (her word), the firm belief that, within certain narrow boundaries, all white people are the same, all damaged and all too “demented” to even know how sick they are and more - it’s all there.
If her speech and the interview are any indication, this is a person who should not be practicing any form of mental health profession. She appears plainly unequipped to do so and can only damage the people who have the bad luck to walk into her office. Aruna Khilanani needs to be on a road crew pouring asphalt into potholes or some other occupation in which she can’t hurt others. As a psychiatrist, she looks dangerous to both white and black people alike.
So it’s all the stranger that she was even allowed to speak at Yale and that, yes, medical professionals received continuing education credits for listening to her bile. Meanwhile, the flyer announcing her talk carries this assurance from Yale School of Medicine:
It is the policy of Yale School of Medicine, Continuing Medical Education, to insure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor in all its educational programs.
I beg to differ. Khilanani’s lecture may have been independent, but balanced, objective and scientific? No.
Her performance was a scandal and Yale’s embrace of it an outrage. But it’s her interview with Herzog that gives us a deeper, fuller understanding of Khilanani. It ranges from the outrageous to the unhinged to the low comedic. I’ll delve into that next time.