More than 150 attendees tuned in for the September 28 talk, “Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary,” with Yale professor and historian Timothy Snyder. The discussion centered on Snyder’s recently published book of the same name.

Snyder is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History and Global Affairs at Yale and the author of numerous books, including On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017); and The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (2018). Read his full bio

Dwayne Betts, poet, lawyer and director of the Million Book Project at Yale Law School, joined the conversation. Jackson Institute director Jim Levinsohn served as moderator.

Snyder and Betts grappled with issues of race and equity in the American health care system.

“The first lesson of the book is that health care should a human right. And the reason why health care is not a human right in this country has everything to do with race. We treat it as a benefit or a privilege,” Snyder asserted.

Snyder also talked about how health is tied to freedom, specifically for children. “Things like vacation time, sick leave and parental leave—which in America we qualify as benefits—to me those are essential elements of freedom. It’s equality — it’s giving the kids a chance to grow up equal. But it’s also freedom,” he said.

“Health is a pre-condition of other freedoms,” Snyder said, citing the freedom of speech and the right to assembly—which can be infringed upon by living with poor health and limited access to health care. 

Watch a recording of the discussion