The Trouble with a Humanitarian Award for Hillary Clinton

By Mark Wood, Medea Benjamin, Helen Caldicott, Margaret Flowers, Cindy Sheehan, David Swanson, World BEYOND War, October 25, 2021

Open Letter to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

We write to express serious concern about the selection of former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton to receive this year’s Catchers in the Rye Humanitarian Award.

The award was established to “honor an individual who has made sustained and significant contributions to the field of children’s mental health.”

We believe that an honest assessment of Clinton’s domestic and foreign policy record demonstrates a profoundly troubling disregard for the wellbeing of children and especially for the wellbeing of poor children of color.

With regard to domestic policy, Clinton opposes universal state subsidized health insurance. The lack of universal health coverage leaves millions of children and their families without access to health care resources. She has been a solid ally of the for-profit health insurance and health care conglomerates, prioritizing private financial interests over public health and the public good. She served on the board of Walmart, a company whose record of aggressive anti-unionism and paying wages so low that many workers qualify for state aid is well-known. She has been a stalwart supporter of Wall Street firms and neoliberal policies that have resulted in record levels of socioeconomic inequality. As a result of these policies, millions of working families, and disproportionately families of color, struggle to meet the basic needs of their children, let alone possess the means to provide their children the resources needed to flourish.

Though Clinton served on the board of directors for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), she lent considerable support as First Lady for her husband’s restructuring of welfare. About this legislation, founder and former president of the CDF Marian Wright Edelman wrote that “‘President Clinton’s ‘signature on this pernicious bill makes a mockery of his pledge not to hurt children.'” Mrs. Edelman’s husband, Peter Edelman, who served in the Clinton administration, resigned in protest, calling the legislation the worst thing president Clinton has done. Hillary Clinton regarded the welfare reform legislation to be a great success. She also supported her husband’s criminal justice reform efforts, which many scholars contend was racist and classist as it led to a massive increase in the incarceration of persons of color and the poor. The US now has the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Hillary Clinton has been among the most hawkish of political figures in a nation that leads the world in military spending and militarism. She has consistently supported increased military spending and energetically advocated for every US military intervention. Clinton supported the bombing, invasion and occupation of Iraq, causing hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. She played an instrumental role in persuading the Obama administration to undertake a massive bombing campaign against Libya, causing tens of thousands of civilian deaths and making Libya a haven for terrorist organizations and slave markets.  As thoroughly documented by Brown University’s Cost of War site, US military interventions supported by Clinton have resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, the majority of whom were children, and the destruction of life-supporting infrastructure. War is the ultimate crime against children and, as Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs wrote, Clinton’s “foreign policy ‘experience’ has been to support every war demanded by the US deep security state run by the military and the CIA.”

As secretary of state she supported the overthrow of the elected president of Honduras and the installation of the current regime that has engaged in savage repression and murder of poor and indigenous populations and which has fueled a massive migration of families, including tens of thousands of children, fleeing terror and seeking refuge in the United States. Last but not least, Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of some of the most tyrannical regimes in the world, all of which run roughshod over the health and wellbeing of children.

One could go on to enumerate many other examples of policies that Hillary Clinton has supported which have caused and are still causing immeasurable suffering to children and their families. Though she and the Clinton Foundation have supported efforts to improve the lives of children, Hillary Clinton’s record as First Lady, senator and secretary of state is overwhelmingly not favorable with regard to support for the health and wellbeing of children and especially for the wellbeing of poor children and children of color in the US and in other nations.

For these reasons, we implore you to reconsider your nomination of Hillary Clinton for this award.

There are so many others who truly deserve this important recognition.


Medea Benjamin
Author and cofounder, Codepink: Women for Peace

Helen Caldicott MBBS, FRACP, MD,
Member of American  Board of Pediatrics,
Founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility – 1985 Nobel Peace Prize

Margaret Flowers, MD
Director, Popular Resistance

Cindy Sheehan
Host/Executive Producer of the Soapbox
Founder of the Women’s March on the Pentagon

David Swanson
Executive Director, World Beyond War

Mark D. Wood
Professor, Religious Studies
Director, School of World Studies 2013-2021
Virginia Commonwealth University

6 Responses

  1. It’s unthinkable that an organization for medical professionals — especially those who work with the most troubled and fragile children — would honor someone with Clinton’s record, when the scale of suffering for which she is responsible dwarfs anything redeemable in her life, as the letter writers demonstrate above.

    Here’s the kicker: AACAP awarded her once already. Look for yourself:

    Why double down on a mistake? Who is behind this? Is this the kind of notoriety that AACAP leadership wants?

  2. Attention: Mark Wood, Medea Benjamin, Helen Caldicott, Margaret Flowers, Cindy Sheehan, David Swanson

    I had posted the following as the 15th comment here ( but the StudentDoctor moderators removed the posting and blocked me. I’m a psychiatrist in Brooklyn, NYC.

    My post which was taken down:

    Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Trump, Romney, Pelosi, Schumer… these are the window dressing to a system that doesn’t care what Americans say or what Americans want. At the end of the day, these corrupt politicians serve corporations, themselves, and the Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffetts of the world. As someone really smart said, the same tactics to sell toothpaste are used in political campaigns.

    I went to the PETITION page. (You should too.) The claim that Clinton is being objected to for being insufficiently liberal is not a serious criticism.

    First: the credentials of the people who signed the letter is impressive. I looked up the unfamiliar names among the signatories. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate (someone who actually deserved it): physician Helen Caldicott. The others included women who have been involved for decades in peace work, in human rights work–stuff that most medical students and practicing doctors couldn’t talk intelligently about. There are also some really smart people with PhDs with very impressive resumes.

    Second: the content of the articles is mind blowing. I have to say: It takes humility to patiently read the linked articles in the letter. Most of this information is new to me and probably to you, which is why no one mentioned anything substantial or just breezily glossed over the important details. Maybe the breezy reading reflects how insulated people here are from the hurt that these politicians cause. I’m only halfway through reading the articles. My stomach can take only so much. I had an idea that politicians are two faced (Trump and Obama are two vivid recent examples). But I had no idea that Clinton’s entire career was based on saying one thing and doing another. I had to take some breaks to let it sink in just how many people Clinton has hurt. The numbers are in the millions. Leaves one speechless.

    In the 90s Clinton claimed there was a vast right wing conspiracy against her. Always playing the victim. But now I’m beginning to see just how twisted that was. Clinton herself is part of a vast conspiracy against Americans and millions of people who aren’t US citizens. These politicians don’t work for us. They work for themselves and look out for the interests of the super wealthy masters. Then when they leave office, they cash in and get millions of dollars.

    Third: Just from what I’ve read, it’s clear that the letter writers aren’t simply opposed to Clinton, even though it would be hard to find someone in American political life with as terrible a record as she has.

    What I don’t get is why the child psychiatry organization would go out of its way to pick someone like Clinton. I’ve never even heard of this organization until now. There is no video that I could find of Clinton getting the award.

    This may be why: She was recently giving a commencement speech in Ireland and a video went viral in which she was called a war criminal by protesters there . Reading half of the articles at the petition page, I can see why people call her a war criminal. It’s because she has been responsible for war crimes and genocide. Unfortunately she’s not alone. George Bush, Barack Obama, Colin Powell, Donald Trump, Dick Cheney are others.

    The articles don’t just reveal the really awful things that Clinton has done. They also expose what the media has covered up about her. And the articles exposes how the media puts out incorrect information about what the government is doing.

    I had opened the petition on my computer when a more senior clinician walked by. They stopped at the photo at the petition page and said, Henry Kissinger. The photo shows a grinning Clinton next to notorious war criminal Henry Kissinger who still lives and is walking around a free man. I’m going to sign the petition and finish reading the articles, though I’ll probably throw up a few more times.

    I found lots of videos of Medea Benjamin and Margaret Flowers. They’re well spoken, smart, and have guts standing up for issues that matter and should matter to all of us. Wish we had more people like them than the career politicians who are doing nothing for us regarding climate change, who are all talk. It’s inspiring!

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