Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Physician terrorists

Much surprise is being expressed at the fact that several of the suspects in the recent terrorist attacks in Britain are physicians. "How can someone trained to heal take lives?" we ask.

Unfortunately, medical training does not absolutely insure that one is a moral person. The infamous Nazi medical experiments were carried out by physicians. More recently, Dr. Che Guevara, a dermatologist, tried to spread violent revolution throughout Latin America. Dr. George Habash, a pediatrician from a Christian family, led one of the most violent Palestinian terrorist organizations, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. And Dr. Baruch Goldstein was a graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, murdered 29 unarmed Arabs before he himself was killed by those he was attacking. And of course there have been occasional less publicized incidents of physicians killing their patients, surrupticiously, or publicly a la Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

As a faculty member at the last institution named above, I do my best to install values into my students. I am sure that the professors of all the people described above did as well. But sometimes we fail. Fortunately, examples like this are rare. But that they exist at all is depressing to me.

8 Comments:

Blogger Zach Kessin said...

depressing isn't it. Also I would bet that all of the people you named would have no problem saying why what they did was right and good. (Or would if they were alive)

11:33 AM  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

"When a doctor turns to crime, Watson, they become the most cunning of criminals!" - Sherlock Holmes "The Speckled Band"

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Mike S. said...

I do not know why this should occasion surprise in anyone. There is the usual canard about terrorism being a desperate response of the poor and dispossessed, but no one should fall for that any more. Terrorism is a tactic of those who are so committed to their ideology that they can conceive of no legitimate reason to oppose it.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

(Or would if they were alive)

I think Dr. Habash is still alive. AFAIK he has never moderated his opinions.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Kylopod said...

The most controversial of your examples would be Dr. Kevorkian. Many people would argue that his crimes were driven by compassion for the suffering, unlike the other examples. You may consider assisted suicide immoral, but I don't think it is in the same category as terrorists and Nazis who operate out of pure hatred.

11:27 AM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

Rabbi Berel Wein, shlit"a, always points out that 37% of the Nazi SS officers had MDs or PhDs.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does medical education overinflate the doctors' egos?

11:27 AM  
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4:17 PM  

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