The other day, Alternet, a weblog devoted to progressive and liberal commentary, posted an article by Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration. The article is titled, “Robert Reich: Why I’m Worried About America.” The Article also appears on Reich’s website under a different title, “Getting a Grip on Ebola.”
Reich is a prolific writer and orator, and he’s influential in left-wing circles.
In his post Reich says he’s not concerned about an Ebola outbreak in this Country. His tacit claim is he’s worried about the public’s response to it. He says, in part:
“We have to get a grip. Ebola is not a crisis in the United States. One person has died and two people are infected with his body fluids. The real crisis is the hysteria over Ebola that’s being fed by media outlets seeking sensationalism and politicians posturing for the midterm elections. That hysteria is causing us to lose our heads. . . . More people are killed by stray bullets every day in America than have been killed by Ebola here. . . . Instead, we bicker. For the last eight months, Republicans have been blocking confirmation of a Surgeon General. Why? Because the President’s nominee voiced support for expanded background checks for gun purchases, and the National Rifle Association objected. We’ve got to get our priorities straight.”
Reich’s article is straightforward, but simplistic. He’s written it obviously at the behest of the Obama Administration. Reich has considerable credentials. Obama apparently believes that Reich, among other prolific writers and thinkers, will calm the rising tide calling for Government action to stem Ebola in the U.S. To date Obama’s reaction toward an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is disturbingly casual. His administration has done nothing constructive to thwart an Ebola epidemic in this Country. He argues that we must deal with Ebola in Africa, not in the U.S. That’s absurd! And Obama, through writers such as Reich, is obviously trying to change the subject — diverting attention to gun violence. Why is that?
The American public shouldn’t allow its attention to be diverted to inconsequential matters. The Obama Administration’s handling of Ebola in this Country is, to date, abysmal. If Ebola gets out of hand in this Country, one-third of the population can be wiped out. Ebola is an existential threat. Gun violence isn’t. It doesn’t come close. Let’s deal with Ebola!
The fault lies squarely with the Obama Administration. Does the American public have reason to fear a full-fledged Ebola outbreak in the U.S.? Yes! Let’s take a look at the fallacies in Reich’s post.
REICH SAYS “EBOLA IS NOT A CRISIS IN THE UNITED STATES.”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘crisis as “a situation that has reached a critical phase.” The implication of Reich’s remark is: we should not fear what has not yet occurred; that such fear is unwarranted. But, the public fears the Government’s ineptitude in dealing with Ebola. That ineptitude is ample. So, the public’s concern over Government ineptitude alone warrants the fear response.
The Government, for its part, we should note, appears more concerned over the public’s reaction to an Ebola pandemic – civil insurrection because of the Government’s failure to protect the public – than over an Ebola pandemic.
Reich may have been approached by the Administration to help quell rising fear in the Nation. Is fear over Ebola warranted? If not, is Reich suggesting the public must wait for a crisis to occur before fear is warranted? But why must the public wait for a crisis to occur? The presence of fear before a crisis prompts a person to action. The public is fearful of Ebola and rightfully so. Ebola is fearsome; it’s a particularly horrifying disease. Appropriate and swift action serves to prevent crises. The public wants Obama to act. Obama sits back. He does nothing.
Obama is altogether lackadaisical toward an Ebola outbreak in this Country. If a crisis must occur before the Obama Administration reacts to it, such action will be too late. Perhaps, it is already too late.
And perhaps an Ebola crisis has already occurred. Consider: how many instances of Ebola constitute a crisis? One? Two? Three? A dozen? Two dozen? One hundred? One thousand? One Million? Ten Million? And, from just one case of Ebola, how quickly may that number jump to one thousand, and then to one million?
Consider: Thomas Duncan, a citizen of an Ebola Hot Zone, Liberia, flew to the U.S. and walked through the gate. He broke no law. He was lawfully permitted entry. Obama said lockdowns of our airports would be counterproductive. Counterproductive? How? Counterproductive for whom? For Africans? May we suggest that Obama exhibit a little more concern for the welfare of Americans and a little less concern over the welfare of Africans.
Clearly, had airport security turned Thomas Duncan away, he would not have transmitted the disease to innocent Americans in this Country. That is fact, not conjecture. And having failed that, had Obama at least ordered Duncan returned immediately to his own Country, Liberia, and not permitted him to remain in the U.S., after he was positively tested for the Ebola disease, tragedy would have been averted — while not for Duncan, certainly for others. Two American nurses, who treated Duncan at a hospital unequipped to deal with biosafety level 4 pathogens, who are suffering horribly, fighting desperately to survive, would today be alive and well had Duncan been immediately flown back to his Country or otherwise been taken to a biosafety level 4 facility in the U.S. for treatment. Neither action occurred.
Other Americans, whom Duncan had come into contact with, both inside the hospital where he was treated, and outside it, may already be harboring the Ebola virus. And those Americans may be passing Ebola on to still more Americans.
The newspapers tell us no American has died from the disease, as yet. Be that as it may, one person as reported, Duncan, has died from Ebola on American soil. That has never happened before. It has happened now. Obama says he has no “philosophical objection” to closing the airports to travelers from or residents of West Africa. But, still he refuses to do so. And he refuses to close our Southern border and our ports.
Obama’s bizarre actions and inaction toward Ebola amount to error upon error, compounded, or worse, reckless indifference to the welfare of Americans.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Rwanda, an Eastern African Nation, where Ebola has not occurred, has closed entry to all travelers coming from Western African Hot Zones and carefully monitors all travelers in Rwanda who come from other Countries where Ebola has manifested, including the United States. But, Residents of Hot Zones in West Africa are freely admitted entry into this Country. Why is that? Why does Obama consistently allow this? Why is he unperturbed by the fact that this policy — his policy — has introduced Ebola into America and allows further transmitters of the disease direct and easy entry into the Country?
It seems the Rwandan Government shows more concern for its own people than the Obama Administration does for Americans.
Reich’s rejoinder to Americans’ legitimate concern over Ebola curiously follows the trajectory charted by the Obama Administration.
The premise of the argument is dubious:
“The most important thing we can do to prevent Ebola from ever becoming a crisis in the United States is to help Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, where 10,000 new cases could crop up weekly unless the spread of the virus is slowed soon.
Isolating these poor nations would only make their situation worse. Does anyone seriously believe we could quarantine hundreds of thousands of infected people a continent away who are infecting others?
The truth is quite the opposite. If the disease is allowed to spread in these places, the entire world could be imperiled.”
So, we don’t curtail entry of West Africans into the U.S. because that would otherwise, in some inexplicable way, make their situation worse and would not make our situation better? And, we help West Africans by doing what exactly? Sending thousands of American troops — non-health care workers, who know nothing about hemorrhagic fever — to West Africa in order to do what exactly? Contract the disease themselves?
Do you recall a similar argument energetically put forth by both the Bush and Obama Administrations: “If we don’t fight them over there (the “Islamic Radicals”), we’ll have to fight them here.” The antecedent of that conditional statement is false. More than that, it’s ridiculous. Just imagine a ragtag group of Islamists invading our shores in an armada of tugboats.
What have we gotten for our troubles? We are embroiled in conflicts “over there” – conflicts ongoing, conceivably forever; trillions of dollars spent on wars the public never wanted and certainly doesn’t need; thousands of Americans dead; tens of thousands more injured; a vacuum in Iraq, precipitated by our invasion of it and ouster of Saddam Hussein; and, now, unrest spilling into other areas in the Middle East. Let’s extrapolate from this.
If we don’t fight Ebola over there, so Reich says, we’ll have to fight it here. That means we commit – and have committed – thousands of troops “over there” (West Africa) to set up pup tents. Not improbably, many of those troops will bring back something the public doesn’t want and certainly doesn’t need: Ebola!
What, then, should Americans do in order to protect themselves from this horrific scourge?
The best course of action for us is to let Ebola burn itself out in Africa. This isn’t to suggest Ebola cases won’t crop up in the U.S. But we don’t have to help the pathogen along as the Government is doing by keeping the airport hubs, and ports, and Southern border of our Country open. So far, we know that Ebola exists in the U.S. precisely because we did allow a West African from a Hot Zone, Liberia, entry into this Country. So we must curtail that practice immediately. Doing so, we will certainly drastically reduce the number of new Ebola transmitters access to our land and our people. But, so long as Obama allows individuals from African hot zones entry into the United States, those individuals will continue to haul their deadly cargo with them — inside them. If the Government disagrees with this assessment, then let’s have an open and frank debate about it. But, the Government doesn’t want an open and frank debate. So, we don’t have that debate.
If the U.S. does suffer an Ebola epidemic — and as the days go by, the reality of such a horror becomes more likely — the American public shouldn’t let Obama off the hook. We know what he’ll say: “locking down the airports, and ports, and borders wouldn’t have stopped Ebola from reaching our shores anyway.” Our response: “Really, Mr. President? Might you not be wrong! Perhaps Ebola would’ve been averted. Now, we will never know. And, if Ebola couldn’t have been averted, we wouldn’t have faulted you for at least trying. But you never did try to avert Ebola. That is unforgivable. You didn’t care enough to try. And that makes all the difference.”
REICH SAYS, “MORE PEOPLE ARE KILLED BY STRAY BULLETS EVERY DAY IN AMERICA THAN HAVE BEEN KILLED BY EBOLA HERE.”
Well, Robert, give Ebola a little time.
Robert Reich is committing the “apples/oranges” fallacy. This fallacy involves the incomparability of two things. To analogize gun accidents and gun homicides to viral epidemics presumes that the yardsticks for measuring the two are the same. They aren’t. Quite simply, if an Ebola epidemic breaks out in this Country, tens of millions of Americans will fall sick in a relatively short span of time, and 80% to 90% of them will likely die horrific deaths in the absence of a vaccine to prevent the disease or a drug to cure it. At present, neither exists. Our health care system will surely crumble. Apart from the staggering loss of life in this Country and unimaginable suffering, the cost to the economy would be colossal, easily amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars.
The antigun crowd’s concern over guns is senseless, indeed, essentially meaningless, when one compares gun violence to the horror of an Ebola pandemic.
Yes, to date, only one person – that we know about, Duncan – has died on American soil from Ebola. If there are others, the Government isn’t saying, and the mainstream media isn’t reporting them. Two others – that we presently know about – have contracted the disease from Duncan. One more case has just been reported in the news, as this article goes to post: a physician in New York City has contracted Ebola. How?
Viral epidemics grow at an astounding rate, exponentially, and move at an extraordinarily quick pace. They easily spiral out of control. And, New York City has an extremely large, concentrated population. So, should New York City residents worry? Should Americans, wherever they are located in this Country, worry?
DOES THE NEED FOR GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS TRUMP GOVERNMENT MEASURES TO STOP EBOLA?
Reich says, “We’ve got to get our priorities straight.” In other words “expanded background checks for gun purchases” takes precedence over locking down our borders to curb Ebola, according to Reich. Some Americans might disagree with that assessment.
SUPPOSE AN EBOLA EPIDEMIC BREAKS OUT IN THIS COUNTRY.
If Ebola breaks out in this Country, the Government will likely institute martial law. That means the Government will curtail civil liberties to get a jump on insurrection. Insurrection will be the Government’s main concern, just as it was in the wake of “Katrina.” Concern for life will be secondary. Once Ebola burns itself out, curtailment of rights and liberties will remain, forever. Of that you can be certain.
As one such proponent for autocracy, Rahm Emmanuel, said, “you don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.” One such important thing that might be done in the event of an Ebola epidemic is the dismantling of a particularly troublesome portion of the United States Constitution: the Bill of Rights. Crises for some always have a silver lining.Copyright © 2014 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour) and Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved.