Columns / Discourse / October 23, 2014

Political Pundits: Ebola comes stateside

With the third diagnosed case of the Ebola virus found within U.S. borders, nearly everyone seems to be talking about the disease. The problem is that no one seems to be talking any sense.

Suffice it to say there are two general camps of thought circulating public opinion with regards to Ebola. On one side we have the doomsayers and political opportunists who paint a picture of death and a failure of the Obama administration to secure the country. Opposite them are those who have read up on the slow rate at which ebola spreads and concluded that while we still have no cure for disease, its inability to infest our country means we will be fine. As you might have guessed, I fall a lot closer to the “everything is going to be fine” crowd, but dislike them nonetheless.

In a word, what both sides of the political aisle fall victim to is ignorance. For those looking to blame Obama for not fending off the disease or claim inevitable doomsday, it is worth pointing out that the CDC predicted both that it was likely for the Ebola virus to catch a ride with a not-yet-symptomatic host to the states and that upon reaching the U.S. the virus would not be able to spread with any seriousness. Their predictions have held true and despite the large amount of fear of the deadly virus, it seems as if we will soon have a new obsession dominating our media. Unfortunately, this is part of the problem as well.

While I was pleased to see so few liberals rallying to close all air traffic to African nations, their lackadaisical attitude proved to be quite problematic as well. The Ebola virus outbreak has been spreading since December of 2013 in West African nations. While the general public remained unaware or uninterested during its first six months of the epidemic (much like their elected representatives), the U.S. did implement a plan to set up a 25-bed emergency hospital in Monrovia. However, with more than 4,000 deaths in the region since the outbreak was noted, it is clear that these efforts will not be sufficient to help the people and communities affected by the virus. The political left, usually quick to jump on any injustice, has offered very little on helping those people that are actually dying.

 It is quite indicative of the American mentality that Ebola only became a hot-button issue for media and politicians (and thus the American people) when it appeared that we ourselves might be in some danger. To be blunt, I am sick of a government that feels the need to involve itself in continuous bombing missions to confront the dangers of terrorism yet wouldn’t dream of scrambling resources to tackle a virus killing thousands of global citizens. That’s not even touching on our “blind-eye” mentality toward the countless genocides occurring to the south and east of the Ebola hot spot.

Simply put, we cannot hope to be taken seriously when we are so quick to justify our violent actions via the public good yet need a laundry list of reasons to save other global citizens just a few countries over. We can say with certainty that the U.S. will emerge from the ebola crisis relatively unscathed on our home land, so isn’t it time to start questioning when will we increase our efforts to save those actually at risk from the virus?

Payton Rose
Senior Payton Rose is a political science major with minors in creative writing and Spanish. This is his first year working for The Knox Student as discourse editor. He has written a political column for TKS for two years.

Tags:  aid america Ebola health international relations Political Pundits West Africa

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