If you think that the Ebola is coming to get you, read Blue Girl’s commonsensical response about how diseases are spread. Or take a look at this CNN debunking of the media and political hysteria-mongers. Or you can read Ezra Klein’s effort to quell the crazy in Vox. There’s lots of information out there if you want to avoid getting caught up in the Foxification of Ebola.
There are now three individuals who have contracted Ebola in the U.S. To give you a little perspective on the situation, Influenza kills about 36,000 people a year in the U.S. There’s no influenza travel ban, no quarantines, just the same old routine response every year. There are on average about 32,000 deaths in the U.S. from gun violence each year – yet the same politicians who want to close the borders or whatever because they think you’re dumb enough to think that will stop the spread of Ebola are often the very loudmouths opposing any common sense regulation of gun ownership. Go figure.
It’s not the absurdity of the media-promulgated Ebola panic, though, that concerns me the most, but the willingness of politicians to try to ride the panic into the midterm elections. On the PBS News Hour Michael Gerson, a conservative Republican, recently stated “that people who directly politicize this issue may well, in my view, be demonstrating their unfitness for office.” My hat’s off to this conservative who, without flinching, told us what we already mostly, sort of knew about almost the entirety of the Grand Old Party, the excesses of which he has often supported in the past. The political response to Ebola provides a convenient litmus test that tells us just who cares about Americans and who cares about wining no matter the cost.
And folks, most of the Missouri GOP delegation have failed the Gerson litmus test. Consider:
— Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, joining Senator Roy Blunt, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-4) and Rep. Billy Long (R-7) in demanding travel restrictions, declared that, “Our nation’s leader and his administration cannot continue to sit back and hope the Ebola epidemic will simply go away.”
–Rep. Long notes that ” my constituents want to know why a travel ban has not been instituted and our borders have not been secured.” Couldn’t he study up a little and tell them why it’s a bad idea, act like a leader and help calm the growing panic rather than fan the flames while pointing his finger Obamaward?
— Rep. Hartzler claims that “the current procedures are proving not to be sufficient to protect Americans from this deadly disease.” Didn’t anyone tell her that only three people in the U.S. have the disease and, after some initial misfires, the situation is pretty much under control? If you didn’t know better, you might think she wanted us afraid.
If you want to know why a travel ban is a bad idea, read this article; the author notes that George Bush decided against a travel ban during the avian flue outbreak for the same reasons he cites. Ebola is not a serious problem in the U.S – it is a serious problem in Africa and if we want to keep it out of the U.S., that’s what we’ve got to tackle. Instead, those folks who’ve been most riled up about our first black president, are now riled up about how that president isn’t doing enough to keep those nasty black African diseases out of the U.S. You think there’s no racist angle? Consider Phyllis Schlafly comments which are straight from the Republican id:
Obama doesn’t want America to believe that we’re exceptional, […]. He wants us to be just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude . […] Out of all the things he’s done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.
Letting “these diseased people” in? Once again. Three people have contracted Ebola in the U.S. The lines of transmission are clear and the situation is under control. And even if more cases occur, we have the wherewithal to deal with them. Nevertheless, no matter how foolish, the media hounds will bay, Republicans will follow the scent of blood, and chances are, just enough Democrats, fearful of being left out when the spoils are divvied up come November, will join the chase and we’ll end up with a travel ban as ill-considered as the Aids/HIV travel ban we recently rescinded.