When I was a young man, about a week or so out from high school graduation, my friends and I piled in a Suburban and went up north to Hammond Bay for a few days of sailing and fishing. On the second day, we all woke up, and everyone was eager to get on the boat and do some sailing. Except me. I could smell rain, and I suggested that we wait. After some grumbling back and forth, we agreed to go over to the port, and hang out there for a while. I grabbed my fishing pole and went to the end of the pier. I sat there, casting my line out, and slowly reeling it in, while watching the sky along the coastline to the north.
After about ten minutes, one of my friends sat down next to me and was doing the same. We sat there, casting, reeling, and looking north, while listening to the sound of the reels and the rising waves. Twenty minutes later, we could see a wall of rain about a mile off to the north. The wind picked up, and a small power boat came into the middle of the harbor, dropped anchor, and zipped everything up. “It’s raining pretty hard up there.” my friend observed. “Yup.” was my only reply. The casting and reeling continued for another twenty minutes. The wind was blowing harder, the temperature had dropped, and the wall of rain was only a half mile or so away. My friend looked up and said “It’s raining pretty hard up there.” I looked up, and said “Yup.”, and continued to cast and reel. Ten minutes passed. Two more boats came in, and tied up, their passengers rushing off to their cars waiting in the parking lot. The wall of rain was now less than a quarter mile away. My friend stopped reeling, and stared at the rain as he said “It’s raining pretty hard up there.” I stopped, and shivered in the wind as I regarded the rapidly approaching wall of rain. “Yup.” was my only reply.
Three minutes later, a raindrop the size of a half-dollar slammed into my forehead, followed by another. And another. We got up and ran as hard as we could for the Suburban, but in the minute or so it took us to get there, we were drenched.
Why am I telling you this story? Because our government is doing the same thing.
Just as it was utterly predictable that we would get wet if we didn’t react to the obvious threat, our government refused to react to the obvious threat of a terrible disease, and suspend air travel from the affected area in west Africa, and the inevitable happened. It flew in with a passenger from the affected area. And while that passenger has since passed, he didn’t do so without infecting Americans with a disease that has a 70% mortality rate, according to the new data from the World Health Organization.
The government, facing the obvious question, has decided that rather than stopping the flights now, it is imperative to keep these flights going, because stopping them will make us less safe from the virus. This causes anyone with three brain cells and the knowledge that England and France (FRANCE!!!) believe otherwise to stifle a collective “That’s quite possibly the dumbest thing we’ve ever heard.” , but actually, this makes a perverse sort of sense when you consider that this excuse originates in the same town where not spending more on an agency or program than we spent last year is somehow a “cut”.
The fact is that a travel ban from West Africa would lead to questions about other immigration…and those questions would lead to questions about Enterovirus 68, which has killed several American children, and the emergence of which corresponds to the resettlement of all the “children” from south of border. (Unexpectedly!) and then people would be questioning an ideological touchstone of this Administration for reasons that could not logically be defined as “racist”. And they can’t have that. The illusion of the naked emperor’s resplendent garb is simply too precious, especially to the emperor himself. Protecting the first failure, which ignores the wisdom of previous generations who saw the wisdom in health screenings as a condition of entry into this country, means committing more errors, which will, in turn, cost more American lives.
To combat this obvious failure, which would even cause Helen Keller to say “What the hell…?”, the meme has been floated that being concerned about this silly, given that tobacco, alcohol, and obesity kill tens of thousands more in this country annually, so being concerned this government’s stubborn insistence to continue to allow people from affected areas to travel to this country and potentially infect Americans with a dread disease with a 71% mortality rate that heretofore was unseen among our population is somehow foolish “panicking”. “Panic” is of course, hyperbole. Panic is afoot in this nation today, but it is found in the offices of Democratic incumbents seeking re-election to the United States Senate, not among the average American who realizes that common sense and logic are being deliberately suppressed in favor of purely political considerations that have already needlessly cost the lives of Americans, and place countless others at risk
It isn’t panic that most Americans feel about this, it is ANGER. Justifiable, controlled, and focused ANGER.
And when the response is to draw comparisons to other causes of death, such as from alcohol, tobacco, and obesity, they have a right to be even angrier, as the lyric “One of these things is different from the other/One of these things is different from the rest.” plays loudly in the radio of their minds. The fact is that we are all dying, a little bit each day, and for most Americans, these causes are also incremental. They kill, but because they are patient, and slow, they feel like they are contributing factors, and not direct causes. And more importantly, they are the result of choices WE make, not choices that our government refuses to make. That is the difference, and it is an even greater irritant when we consider the steps that government takes to “protect” us from these incremental harms. Minimum ages in order purchase the products. Taxes to discourage purchase. PSAs. Fitness and nutrition programs. Millions and millions of dollars spent annually to “protect” us from cutting off the years we would otherwise spend in wheelchairs, warehoused in a “home” somewhere, staring off into space, exhausting our resources, and more commonly, the taxpayers’ money, and yet this same government, afraid to threaten a source of new votes purchased with our money refuses to take common sense measures to reduce the number of Americans exposed to and infected with a disease that will cause fever, liquefied internal organs, seizures, and death while bleeding out of every orifice, all in a span of days. That kind of dual-mindedness would hopelessly confuse Bob Arctor.
And when the government decides to do “something”, it is to appoint a political hack to “take the point” (and the blame) for an executive who’d rather be golfing, until it’s time to blame someone for the inevitable failures.
We have a right to be angry. And they are the ones who should be panicking.