Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Morally Indefensible Defence of Bethune

From the National Post's "Letter of the Day," penned by Dr. Edward M. Conway, Director, Centre for Blood Research; professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver:
...Rising awareness of social disparities in access to health care prompted Bethune to join the Communist Party and to advocate major changes in healthcare delivery. Needless to say, his ideas were not well-received in Canada. In 1936, he was invited to lead a surgical team in Spain to care for casualties in the Spanish Civil War. There, Bethune organized a centralized service for collecting blood and for delivering it to the front. Within five months, the organization was supplying a 1,000-km long war front with up to 100 transfusions per day, using a staff of over 100, about 4,000 blood donors and five custom-built blood delivery trucks.
In 1938, Bethune went to China where he joined the Communist forces of Mao Zedong. His role was not to espouse communism. Rather, he established training programs for nurses and doctors, invented new surgical instruments and helped to set up mobile medical teams. He frequently performed battlefield surgical operations, on occasion transfusing his own blood. He died in November 1939 of an infection.
Upon his death, a notable politician of the time wrote: “We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very useful to the people. A man’s ability may be great or small, but if he has this spirit, he is already noble-minded and pure, a man of moral integrity. a man who is of value to the people.”
There's no doubt that Bethune was an early proponent of socialized medicine and that his innovations in the area of blood transfusions have saved lives. There is also no doubt that he served the cause of evil, and that the number of lives saved by his medical innovations amount to a hill of beans compared to the number of human beings murdered by Mao and his minions. Furthermore, Bethune would be a mere footnote in history but for the fact that Mao used his death for propaganda purposes, and turned him into a Chinese Communist hero.

That's the reality. Deal with it, Dr. Conway.

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