What happens when we combine political correctness, an open-borders mentality, governmental incompetence, and the Ebola virus? We’re about to find out.
On Wednesday’s broadcast of NBC Nightly News, anchorman Brian Williams said of Ebola, “The outbreak is now officially out of control.” Undoubtedly Williams is correct–he was, after all, citing a bulletin from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)–but surely this Ebola outbreak, out of control as it is, must rate as one of the most predictable surprises in epidemiological history.
The CDC has known about the outbreak since March; indeed, the number of confirmed cases crossed 100 on March 27, and fatalities crossed 100 on April 7. Today, two Americans with Ebola are sitting in an Atlanta hospital, having been flown here from Africa.
But could there be others with Ebola here in the US? Maybe. As Breitbart Texas’s Brandon Darby reports, 71 individuals from the three Ebola epicenter countries–Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone–have either turned themselves in or been apprehended at the US Southern border. Do any of them have Ebola? Or could any of them be asymptomatic carriers? As things stand now, it’s hard to know, because the US Government policy on possible contagion is this: Officials ask the person if he or she has any communicable diseases, and if the answer is “no,” officials take his or her word for it. That’s perhaps not the most foolproof system ever devised. And of course, the government can’t account at all for people that it doesn’t apprehend.
Meanwhile, the worldwide death rate from Ebola is around 64 percent. As of August 6, 932 people have died of Ebola, including a man in Spain, and another in Saudi Arabia. And there are suspected cases all over the world, from New York City to the Philippines. In addition, the Times of India reports that 45,000 Indian citizens are currently living in Ebola-afflicted countries; how many of them are going to want to come home, pronto? And where might those Indians go next?
So let’s consider the three contributing factors in turn: political correctness, an open-borders mentality, and governmental incompetence.
First, political correctness. The politically correct (PC) position on Africa is either to find an excuse for failure, or else to look away from failure entirely. In the case of Ebola, the Obama administration is doing both. It’s urging Americans not to be alarmed, even as it invites hundreds of African officials–including those from the Ebola epicenter countries–to visit Washington DC for a “summit” conference. As President Obama said on Thursday,
A new Africa is emerging. With some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, a growing middle class, and the youngest and fastest-growing population on Earth, Africa will help shape the world as never before.
So that’s the official PC line: “A new Africa is emerging.” And we can be sure that every federal bureaucrat got the message. Maybe that’s why public-health officials haven’t wanted to make too much of a fuss about Ebola over the past few months–they didn’t want to muddle the “New Africa” message of the “summit.” Unfortunately for these PC spin-aspirations, the Ebola outbreak became increasingly and undisguisably worse, and so the Africa “summit” was, in the end, overshadowed by the virus. That’s the problem with PC: It is out-of-kilter with reality, and yet reality has a way of winning.
Second, an open-borders mentality. Closely related to political correctness is the open-borders mentality. The open-borders obsession has deep roots in the intelligentsia: In the wake of World War One, intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals concluded that nationalism was the problem; as Albert Einstein once said, “Nationalism is the measles of mankind.” Many in the chattering classes therefore want us to follow John Lennon, who once sang, “Imagine there’s no countries.”
It is, indeed, not hard to criticize nationalism, and yet here’s something that’s even harder: thinking of a superior alternative to nationalism. In a world of ethnic and economic rivalries–and the occasional mad zealot–the nation-state is the only bulwark of defense we have.
Yet even so, ivory tower-types continue to spew forth their open-borders propaganda. National Review recently noted the antics of a British professor who declared that a BBC gardening show was actually coded racism and xenophobia. As the professor said, a program about gardening, with its natural focus on privileging some plants above other plants–that is, the ones the gardener wants in the garden–“is layered with, saturated with, racial meanings.” Such professorial blather might seem laughable to most people, let alone most gardeners, but it’s a safe bet that the PC police inside the BBC will take it seriously, indeed. And out of such thinking comes the instinct to open the border–and keep it open.
And of course, the open-borders mentality is caused by more than just PC. As Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and others have argued, many leading business groups support open borders, because they know that new immigrants will suppress wage rates.
Moreover, the Obama administration, and top Democrats, know full well that their best chance to build a new Democratic majority is by establishing a new demography for America. Hence the looming Obama amnesty action. It’s no wonder, then, that Border Patrol morale is at an “all-time low.”
Third, governmental and systemic incompetence. “Ebola poses little risk to the US general population”–so says CDC director Thomas Frieden. Given the track record of his agency, one might think that Frieden would be a little more careful. We learned this summer that up to 86 workers at the CDC HQ in Atlanta were exposed to anthrax, which had been improperly stored in labs; more precisely, anthrax samples had simply been left in unlocked refrigerators.
So now, when the CDC won’t disclose important information about Ebola tests, we aren’t filled with much confidence. As Dr. Ben Carson told Fox News recently, this is the sort of information that the public has a right to know.
Furthermore, as several recent stowaway cases have reminded us, it’s still possible to sneak on an airplane without so much as a ticket. And that’s just in the US–who knows what’s happening in the rest of the world.
But finally, there’s the Ebola virus itself. The virus has been known since the 1970s, and one would think that someone would have thought it a good idea to do something about it.
But we live in a political climate in which curing diseases, or vaccinating against them, is far less important than financing them. It’s almost enough to make one think that hospitals and health insurers–including the government insurers, such as Medicare and Medicaid–have decided that they would rather finance the ravages of disease, as opposed to ending the disease. That could explain why there’s been so little progress against killer diseases in the US, such as cancer and diabetes, and also why production of new antibiotics–the drugs we need to fight superbugs–in the US has declined sharply in the US over the last few decades.
So in the face of this impending calamity, what should we do? How should Americans react? As the old saying goes, when you’re in a hole, stop digging. Donald Trump is one of the few leading figures in public life today who gets it: We must build a secure fence and keep out killer diseases. That’s a winning national agenda for someone.
Then more broadly, over the longer term, how should we think about Ebola, as well as the next killer plague to come? How do we protect ourselves, and then, if we can, protect others? We’ll take up those questions in Part 2.