xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Ebola crazy talk spreads faster than the virus [Commentary]

Scientists assure us that Ebola isn't mutating into an airborne virus, but it has certainly morphed into a cipher for the ugly side of our fears.

The attorney general of Louisiana wants a restraining order to prevent a hazardous waste landfill in his state from accepting the belongings of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Texas man who was the first on American soil to die of the deadly disease — even though carpets and bed linens and such have been incinerated at more than 2,100 degrees and analyzed for their safety.

Advertisement

Dog lovers are demanding to know why the pet of the Spanish nurse was euthanized but the puppy owned by the Texas nurse who contracted the disease treating patient Duncan was not — not yet, anyway.

A hospital in Massachusetts was locked down; a flight with an airsick passenger was diverted and met with a medical SWAT team; television stations broadcast film of a police officer who had been in Duncan's apartment being escorted into a hospital by men in hazmat suits.

Advertisement
Advertisement

And that's just people acting scared. Others are acting just plain scary.

Rush Limbaugh says "liberals," and President Barack Obama in particular, want Ebola to spread in this country to punish white Americans for the crime of slavery. "We've elected people who think like this," said the inflammatory radio show host.

Michael Savage, another strident talk show host, said the only reason the president has sent U.S. troops to the Ebola hot zones in West Africa is because he wants at least one of them to come back with the disease and infect the country. He called it "the highest form of treason."

He calls the Mr. Obama, "President Obola."

Advertisement

Erick Erickson, who writes the RedState blog, says the reason there hasn't been enough money for Ebola research is that all those dollars were given to studies such as why lesbians have a propensity to gain weight. The headline on his blog post? "Fat Lesbians Got All the Ebola Dollars, But Blame the GOP"

And Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch, has sued President Obama and the head of the Centers for Disease Control, seeking to close the American borders. The president, he writes in a news release, has too much affinity for "his infected fellow Africans" and has opened the country up to "American Muslim ISIS suicide terrorists who would intentionally infect themselves with the deadly disease and thus have it spread wildly throughout the United States."

Even Joan Walsh, who writes for Salon.com, jumped on board, saying since the first two Ebola patients on American soil — Duncan and the nurse who treated him — were in Texas, Gov. Perry bears "some responsibility" because of his rejection of Medicaid funds (Texas officials announced Wednesday that a second nurse who treated Duncan had been infected and that they were preparing for more).

Talk like that makes calls to seal the borders — and to permanently ban travelers from West Africa — made by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul seem considered.

For those who don't trust the federal government's competence to handle an outbreak in America — and I have to say I have my own doubts — this is all red meat. Meanwhile, the government's response — men and women in space suits on the evening news — has the effect of spreading panic.

Reasonable men of science, such as Dr. Jeremy Samuel Faust of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, make the cool-headed observation on Slate.com that we are diverting all our medical muscle to containing a disease that has almost no chance of getting even a modest foothold in this country — on the eve of flu season, which infects tens of thousands every winter and has killed between 3,000 and 50,000 people every year since 1976.

We are reacting to the panic — not to the disease.

The upside of this hysteria is this. Now that Americans are getting sick, America may bring its power to bear on a disease that has always been Africa's problem, not ours.

Susan Reimer's column appears on Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at sreimer@baltsun.com and @SusanReimer on Twitter.com.

To respond to this commentary, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement