MSNBC’s Joy Reid argued that “urban legends” that Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan lied to get into the US, were the result of thinking that “the body of an African is itself kind of a weapon” on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry” on Saturday, despite the fact that officials in Liberia have made the same claims.
Harris-Perry remarked “we just cannot get away from the optics and the racial politics that are associated with the fact that the only people, the only person to have died in this of Ebola, is a West African black man and that the two nurses infected are both women of color. And there is an optic to that that undoubtedly could have some impact.”
Reid responded, “It has impact in a negative way too, because there’s also the urban legends that are going around on the Interwebs essentially blaming Thomas Eric Duncan for lying his way into the country, for bringing this pathogen, as if sort of the body of an African is itself kind of a weapon he’s using against us in some horrible way. When, in fact, this is a man who did trust the system.” The Board Chairman of the Liberia Airport Authority, Binyah Kesselly, reported that Duncan lied on a questionnaire and claimed he did not care for a patient with Ebola. Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said “the fact that he [Duncan] knew [he had been exposed to Ebola] and he left the country is unpardonable, quite frankly.” And that she felt “very angry” with Duncan.
Harris-Perry also blamed Duncan’s poor treatment in Texas on his lack of insurance, stating “infectious disease helps to remind us that the biases that are already pre-existing in our system make all of us vulnerable.”
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