The Whitewashed Tombs of the Right

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”– Matthew 23:27

I received several comments on last week’s post about Hubertus Strughold, so I thought I’d follow up with another post.  The fact that Strughold has been well-respected in American medical circles despite his leadership in medical experimentation in Nazi Germany may shed light on deep-seated philosophical problems that undergird America’s healthcare crisis.  It is no secret that the Allies marveled at the technological and scientific capabilities of the Germans as they marched through that country in the final days of World War II.  Though it used the scientists of the Third Reich to the ultimate success of putting a man on the moon, American medicine may also have adopted harmful philosophical ideas that cripple U.S. medicine to this day.  The technological and scientific accomplishments of American medicine may be the whitewash that hides the philosophical problems that are the dead people’s bones that affect patient care and make us incapable of solving systemic healthcare problems.

Dachau, notorious for its human experimentation

Several writers on this blog have commented on the failures of the “business model” of medicine.  Joe Gibes has written several posts on the subject (see his “Black Friday” post), and Steve Phillips has recently mentioned the “manufacturing efficiency” that has been brought to human reproduction.  It is well-known that many Americans sided with the National Socialists in Germany in the 1920s and 30s because they saw them as a bulwark against the tide of communism that seemed to be sweeping over Europe (Russia fell to the Communists in 1917).  In the culture wars in America the last two decades, it appears the right-wing has propelled the “business model” of medicine to the fore as a bulwark against the Left’s move to bring government-run healthcare to America.  It is a classic case of the end justifies the means.  Why Christians allied themselves with the right-wing to form the “Religious Right” in the 1980s I’ll never know.  But it looks like a deal with the Devil.

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Jon Holmlund
Jon Holmlund
8 years ago


I’m sorry, but this strikes me as lazy reasoning and ad hominem attacking of the worst kind.

Does this reasoning follow:

1) Nazi sympathizers are reprehensible.
2) Nazi sympathizers justified “deep seated philosophical problems” by claiming that the alternative (Marxism-Leninism) was worse.
3) Opponents of government-sponsored, single-payer health insurance use that opposition to justify their own “deep seated philosophical problems.”
4) Therefore, like the Nazis, opponents of government-sponsored, single-payer health insurance are reprehensible.

I submit that the argument follows only if the “opponents” in 3) harbor the same “deep seated philosophical problems” as the Nazis. Otherwise, there might be legitimate, thoughtful reasons for advocating what are called “private sector” responses to the problems of organizing and paying for medical care. And it might be the case that at least some–perhaps the most articulate–of these “opponents” are not hypocrites. At the least, the case of Dr. Strughold is in no way analagous to theirs. Or mine, if you catch my drift.

Among reasonable concerns about government-run health care are: costs might be better controlled in a system that preserves a wider range of individual choices; preserving that range of choices might also facilitate delivering good medicine to more people; preserving that range of choices might also make individual choices more ethical, and at least more sensitive to personal values and doctors’ judgments; good innovations and technological developments, ethically developed and sold, to the real (not marginal) benefit of patients, might have a better chance in a more private-sector set of arrangements; a range of choices might better allow for the conscience rights of individuals or groups to be respected.

I don’t think any of the above has anything to do with National Socialism. To be sure, bad actors and bad actions should be called out, and repented of. Such will be the case in a single-payer system, too, if we ever get it.

Also, there are cogent counterarguments of considerable force: the “market” is a chimera in medicine, and doesn’t fit a profession anyway; fair market transactions in medicine are a false hope; the only way to control costs is government-mandated cost control across the entire health-care sector; and so on.

I submit people can and do ethically, honestly, unhypocritically disagree about the above, and that true Christians can and do participate in these agreements.

I also wish you would have left the “religious right” out of this. To be sure, the alignment of much of the American church with the Republican party is dubious at best, as Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson pointed out years ago in their book Blinded by Might. But I think today most people think of the “religious right” as those who are concerned about the life issues, support that “silly” concept of human dignity, and worry about the future of marriage and the family. Kind of like what I called “the Francis Schaeffer generation” in my post last month. (And, to be fair, Schaeffer was concerned about Communism, but he was no Strughold.) Some of those who disagree with us on those points do indeed consider us “Nazis.” Do you?