The right-wing media and several Republicans are trumpeting the Ebola Hysteria meme. According to them, we are all facing the imminent threat of being wiped off the face of the earth by the Ebola Virus. We have seen the hysteria grow to such lengths that schools are either being shut down, or children from certain countries are being refused attendance. Not because they have Ebola or any symptoms, but simply because they are from a West African country where Ebola has broken out.
Senator Rand Paul is calling for travel bans to West African nations. He says that it is “only reasonable” that such travel bans be put into place. On the other hand, his own father says that a call for travel ban is a politically motivated talking point. Actually, Ron Paul, Rand’s father, says that we would be better off banning people with colds from flying because their colds could actually be the flu and more people will die from the flu than Ebola in the U.S.
The Republicans called on President Obama to appoint an “Ebola Czar” to oversee our response to the virus. So, President Obama appointed an administrator to the position of “Ebola Czar” to oversee our response. The Republicans went nuts over the appointment. The first cry was that the new Czar wasn’t even a doctor! Well, guess what, if you want someone to oversee our response and form coordination plans so varying organizations can better share information, you need an administrator not a doctor.
Then again, if the Republicans had confirmed President Obama’s Surgeon General cabinet post nominee, there would be a doctor in place right now. But, since the Republicans don’t like his views on various topics, they refuse to even vote on his appointment or even hold hearings on it. If we actually had a Surgeon General, maybe we wouldn’t need a Czar in the first place.
But all of this doesn’t matter to the Republicans and their wing-nut base. When you have networks like Fox News stating clearly that the reason there is no travel ban to West Africa is because President Obama wants Ebola to kill off Americans, you get the idea that this has nothing to do with Republicans or conservatives caring about national health. They are simply trying to use the Ebola Virus for political points.
If the Republicans had truly cared about the health of Americans, they would not have slashed the budgets for the CDC and NIH by billions of dollars over the last several years. They would have recognized that something like this would eventually come up and that properly funding these agencies was the only way to prepare for a possible outbreak of any type of infectious disease.
Hell, they might have even been willing to let the ACA do its thing and let millions of uninsured Americans get insurance. But, that couldn’t happen. If people don’t have insurance, there is no way they can take preventative measures to protect themselves. And the Republicans wouldn’t be able to use hysteria as a vote getting measure.
Another problem in all of this nonsense, is that the panic they are trying to stir up will hurt the economy. There are already internet survivalist nuts telling people not to fly because you “might be sitting next to someone with Ebola.” As a result, people are likely to stop traveling. That means the travel industry will hurt economically, and your stocks may even go down. Already airline stocks have taken a hit because of the fear of a travel ban. If you own airline stocks, you have already seen a hit to your bank account.
We have gone through these hysteria events before. I was in the Coast Guard when Haitians tried to enter the country in the 1980s. That was one of the countries with the biggest outbreak of AIDS. We had to intercept them, and take them to GITMO before any of them were allowed to enter the country. Many were sent back to Haiti. Funny, but Ronald Reagan, who was president at the time, didn’t call for a travel ban to Haiti! Maybe it was because like Ebola, AIDS was only transmitted via body fluids and not breathing the air.
Throughout history mankind has faced outbreaks that threatened people’s lives. The Plague, Polio and the Spanish Influenza are just a few that come to mind. We don’t eliminate infectious diseases by starting hysteria and blaming “others”. We end them by properly funding our agencies that look for cures. In the meantime, we isolate those affected, and take proper steps to limit exposure to the rest of us. That is the “only reasonable” way to fight infectious diseases.
I understand that Ebola is a very frightening disease. But, as Ron Paul said, more people die from the flu each year than Ebola. However, since the flu is not new, it appears less frightening than Ebola. We understand the flu. We do not understand Ebola. Unscrupulous politicians know this and are willing to use Ebola to scare you to death.
The Republicans and their right-wing nuts are not interested in fighting infectious diseases. They are only using the Ebola Virus as a means to put everyone at their mercy. Lock down the borders. Set up travel bans. Make sure we keep all of those “others” out of the country. I firmly believe that if Republicans had their way, not only would there be a travel ban, but a “papers” law would soon follow.
No, Ebola has become nothing more than political talking points for the Republicans. That is all it can be. They have no plan to talk about. How very sad for all of us.