Oct. 6, 2014

PC: As Deadly as Ebola

The poisonous political correctness embraced by the American Left and the Obama administration has metastasized.

The poisonous political correctness embraced by the American Left and the Obama administration has metastasized. It is now being elevated above containing Ebola, one of the most lethal viruses in the world.

The insanity began in 2010, when the Obama administration abandoned quarantine rules set in motion five years earlier by the Bush administration in response to the avian flu. Those rules would have given the government expanded powers to detain potentially sick patients in “preventive quarantine,” require airlines to report ill travelers to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and maintain data on passengers in case it was needed at a later date. Unsurprisingly, the ACLU applauded Obama’s move. “The fact that they’re backing away from this very coercive style of quarantine is good news,” ACLU legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese said at the time.

Last Wednesday, the White House upped the ante, insisting there would be no travel restrictions or the introduction of new airport screenings to prevent Ebola from entering the country. Press Secretary Josh Earnest added that screenings in West African airports and passenger observations in America are sufficient to prevent a “widespread” epidemic of Ebola. “The reason … is that it is not possible to transmit Ebola through the air,” he said. “The only way that an individual can contract Ebola is by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is exhibiting symptoms.”

Earnest and the White House are zero-for-two. Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan did something the politically correct among us apparently can’t fathom: He lied on his questionnaire, saying he never came into contact with an infected person when he had. As for the impossibility of non-contact transmission, try this exchange between CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden and CNN’s medical expert Sanjay Gupta:

Gupta: “I am within three feet of you. Wouldn’t I be considered a higher risk? My understanding reading your guidelines, sir, is that within three feet or direct contact – if I were to shake your hand, for example – would both qualify as being contact.”

Dr. Frieden: “We look at each situation individually and we assess it based on how sick the individual is and what the nature of the contact is. And certainly if you’re within three feet, that’s a situation we’d want to be concerned about.”

In other words, three feet becomes “touching”? Frieden wasn’t through embracing politically correct nonsense. The following day he tweeted another seeming non-sequitur: “The impulse to isolate countries may make Ebola epidemic worse. Must use tried & true public health means to stop it.”

One might be forgiven for thinking that another word for isolate is “quarantine,” as in Rule Numero Uno for containing infectious diseases. As for “tried and true public health means,” one wonders if that refers to entities like Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which initially diagnosed Duncan, but sent him home, despite knowing he had traveled to Africa in the last four weeks. In the interim, Duncan came into contact with approximately 100 people, including five schoolchildren.

Enter our Praetorian Guard media, ever eager to downplay anything negative that might stick to the Obama administration. In one of the more reprehensible developments in this saga thus far, CNN network correspondent Gary Tuchman interviewed children at a middle school attended by one of the children of Duncan’s girlfriend, who he was visiting when he became ill. Tuchman assured one of the children, “You don’t have to worry, OK?”

No, it’s not OK.

That was Thursday. On Friday, we found out Duncan’s girlfriend, Louise Troh, who was quarantined under armed guard because she refused to stay in her apartment with her three children (they have since been moved to a secluded location in Dallas), had “checked in” on Facebook from Ebola hotspot Monrovia, Liberia, on Aug. 11. Despite Ebola’s 21-day incubation period, Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas’ chief executive, assured us there is “zero risk” among the family members, because they are “asymptomatic.”

What we haven’t found out? Whether Troh and her family are here legally or illegally. We contacted the Dallas Morning News, which said they were checking, but didn’t know. A spokesperson who requested anonymity told us Troh has been in America “for a long time.”

Friday was also the day the Obama administration assured us everything was under control. Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, gushed about the quality of U.S. health care, before turning to the subject of travel restrictions. “Dozens and dozens of people have been stopped from getting onto planes,” she said. “We have now seen tens of thousands of people [arrive in the U.S.] since March to the current day, and we now have this one isolated case.”

Not quite. Two more people with Ebola-like symptoms were hospitalized in Kentucky.

Not to worry though. In another mind-boggling dose of PC, the refusal to ban flights from Liberia was rationalized, once again on CNN. After insisting “isolating” nations doesn’t work, author David Quammen went right over the PC cliff. “I mean, we in America, how dare we turn our backs on Liberia given the fact that this is a country that was founded in the 1820s, 1830s because of American slavery.” he declared. “We have a responsibility to stay connected with them, and help them see this through.”

Texas authorities at a Saturday CDC briefing demonstrated an equal level of PC-induced cluelessness, pleading with the public not to “shun” people being evaluated for Ebola. “The people who are being monitored are people just like your family,” said Judge Jenkins.

Where intelligent safety measures end and “shunning” begins is anyone’s guess. Saturday we also found out that a 10-member team of CDC doctors, nurses and epidemiologists had come to Dallas this week to track down all of the people who had been in contact with Duncan, who is now in critical condition. One is left to wonder how many 10-member teams are available for such work in the event the outbreak expands – along with a possibly exponential number of contacts for each infected individual.

Still more insanity? Nursing assistant Aaron Yah who visited Duncan after he was admitted to the hospital has been told he can return to work – even as his wife, Youngor Jallah, and the couple’s four children must remain in quarantine. Jallah, who is Duncan’s “step-daughter-to-be,” touched him when she gave him tea. Apparently we are supposed to believe Yah never touched her – mostly likely because he said so. And once again in his case, the 21-day incubation period is apparently being ignored.

One can go on but the picture is clear: Political correctness trumps everything else, even when a lethal virus is involved. Moreover, it is exacerbated by what National Journal’s Ron Fournier describes as the “scariest thing” about Ebola: a nation that faces a “crises of leadership and trust.” Unfortunately, Fournier misses the forest for the trees, contending the failure of our institutions to adapt to the changing times is the culprit.

Baloney. It’s the double-shot disaster of political correctness. The first shot obliterates common sense and common decency. The second shot seeks to suppress, ridicule or destroy those who would dare to question the utter lack of common sense and common decency among its worshipful adherents. With the backing of the American Left and its cheerleaders in media, government and academia, it has become a plague every bit as deadly – if not more so – than Ebola.

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