Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.
It wasn't until I spotted the swastika that my impression of him changed.
Allegorically speaking, he could easily have been my son, I'd thought, when
I first saw him lying in the ICU bed. This is, of course, not an uncommon
sentiment among physicians when confronted with a sick young person. Then
I saw the tattoo on his chest, under which a heart beat slowly, rhythmically,
as I listened for clues of disease and looked for signs of pathology. With
the suddenness of a slap, my impression of him changed: "We're in enemy territory,"
my mind told me. I'd never before had personal contact with an American neo-Nazi.
I had seen—on television—skinheads, the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan supremacists,
members of the Brotherhood spouting their hate-filled philosophy. I also knew
of blacks who had been murdered by skinheads. My patient was a skinhead.
Kamau PK. A Case of Mutual Distrust. JAMA. 1999;282(5):410. doi:10.1001/jama.282.5.410