No one wants to suggest their neighbors here in Mississippi are guilty of overreacting to the Ebola scare, after all, it doesn’t hurt anyone to be cautious. No one wants to suggest their neighbors might seem even the slightest bit racist in their reaction to the Ebola crisis, not in our current age of super sensitivity at being politically corrected. Certainly no one wants to suggest their neighbors are behaving like full blown ignoramuses, but come on Mississippi.
A Mississippi school principal goes to his brother’s funeral in Zambia. Zambia. Word spreads through his local school district. A few parents fear the principal just may be carrying the Ebola virus. They tell other parents who also crank up the fear factor. Within a few hours dozens of parents pull their kids from the school. Fear spreads and parents at nearby schools pull their children out as well. If one principal is carrying Ebola, every principal in the state is likely to be infected, they reason, or at least think they do.
The principal decides to admit himself to a hospital. Better safe than stupid. Again, his brother’s funeral was in Zambia. If you look at an equal-area cylindrical map projection of the African continent, you might notice Zambia is no where near the Ebola outbreak in the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, You could almost fit The People’s Republic of China in between Zambia and those countries. Even on a Northern Hemisphere-centric map, Zambia looks as far away from Liberia as Miami to Vancouver.
But for Ebola fear mongers, the entire continent of Africa is apparently a petri dish of deadly diseases. Fox News reports that the Obama Administration has “knowingly” expedited visas for those traveling from West Africa, a not so subtle insinuation that Obama seeks to start an Ebola epidemic in the United States.
The Ebola epidemic has been going on quite sometime. Countless Americans have visited these West African countries and many have gone for the purpose of assisting those suffering.
Is the Ebola outbreak serious? Absolutely. Could it kill as many people in this country as it has in Liberia and other West African nations? Absolutely not. We have the finest medical care money can buy in this country and a virus of this nature does not pose much of a threat.
Make no mistake this “Ebola Crisis” would not be receiving the kind of attention it has up to this moment were it not for the upcoming election. Republicans want a travel ban on undesirables; Democrats want more funding for healthcare research. Political points will be scored. It’s pretty easy to whip their respective Obama-haters and Obama-backers into a frenzy when you are dealing with a deadly African bug that could become an extinction-level-event virus.
And now the government we loathe so and wouldn’t mind shutting down is expected to save us. It’s worked beautifully, so beautifully that President Obama felt compelled to name an Ebola Czar. The President hasn’t been this assertive since he named the all important “Asian Carp Czar.”
To be fair, every President since Nixon has appointed “Czars” to handle something a government agency is already supposed to be handling, so you can’t blame Obama for pulling out the Czar Card. By the way, how is that Drug Czar thing working out? His salary is still being paid. You can bet the Asian Carp Czar is likely still on the dole, too.
Like silly young people in a horror flick, you make some pretty dumb choices when you respond out of fear without a modicum of reasoning. Now, let’s pretend for a moment that other nations might choose to react to the Ebola scare as we have in this country. We have had a case of Ebola in a Texas hospital. Facebook and Twitter posts suggest we are expecting so much more. In fact, we seem obsessed with a sick anticipation of Ebola fever wiping out swaths of our own population. What happens when the rest of the world decides to ban travel to and from the United States? The people of the United States could be as undesirable as Asian Carp.
Instead of encouraging fear of Obama and Ebola, it would be nice if we could encourage our fellow Mississippians to learn how to read a map, maybe even a book, one that reminds us that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.”
» David Dallas is a political writer. He worked for former U.S. Sen. John Stennis and authored Barking Dawgs and A Gentleman from Mississippi.