Paranoia about Ebola making its way Stateside has caused many in the media to operate from the space of stupid. It’s not shocking, but no less frustrating. Words mean things and they have consequences so you would hope that those given the responsibility of covering the disease to the public would behave responsibly. Then again, who cares about responsibility so long as you make headlines?
Fox News contributor, psychiatrist, and village idiot Keith Ablow has already managed to racialize Ebola. While appearing on “Medical A-Team,” Ablow continued his shtick as the KKK Frasier and argued that President Barack Obama is failing to protect the country from Ebola due to “affinities, his affiliations are with” Africa and “not us … He’s their leader.”
Ablow went on to liken America to a hostage with Stockholm Syndrome under the assertion that we elected a man who dislikes the country to which he leads. Not to be outdone, Ablow decided to highlight that Obama “has names very similar to two of our archenemies: Osama, well, Obama. And Hussein.”
Again, this is a man who is not only a psychiatrist, but has actually been asked to appear on national television and say these things.
I’m surprised that Chris Brown wasn’t asked to appear on the show and repeat his theory that Ebola is being used as a means of population control. If the booking agent is reading this, I’ll be happy to recommend the person I only know as “that fool in front of the bodega” to offer his medical expertise too.
Meanwhile, there are members of the press trying to make the case that the “Ebola crisis” in the United States will become “Obama’s Katrina.” Writing for The Hill, Justin Sink declares,
“The Ebola crisis in the United States has become an anchor threatening to sink the Obama presidency.”
Sink keeps the hyperbole going by comparing the one person dying from Ebola in the United States to the Bush administration’s gross mishandling of Hurricane Katrina.
Anyone arguing that Ebola is “Obama’s Katrina” can dip their head in a hot pot of red beans & rice. While we’re at it, they can choke on a boudin ball too. There is no comparison between what’s happening right now in Dallas to what happened in New Orleans. That is disrespectful to those who died and to those who still have yet to truly recover from the gross negligence they suffered from in 2005.
Sink is not the only one trying to make fetch happen with respect to Ebola dooming the Obama presidency.
Talking Press Memo’s Dylan Scott also highlighted the New York Times’ Michael Barbaro theorizing that Ebola could define the Obama presidency more than the Affordable Care Act.
Seriously? One of the biggest legislative achievements in modern history will be ignored due to the death of a single person.
And when members of the press aren’t trying to doom the Obama presidency, they’re continuing to play racial politics in terms of how we cover those who contract the disease.
In “The problem with the West’s Ebola Response Is Still Fear of a Black Patient,” Hannah Giorgis notes that Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who died from Ebola in Dallas, was not given favorable coverage given his background: Black, poor, and African.
A Dallas hospital turned away the uninsured Liberian immigrant after an initial exam concluded he suffered only from a “low-grade viral disease”, and the media turned him into the unsympathetic, undeserving face of a contagion with which the West is frantically grappling.
He – and the West Africans to whom he is tied by both birth and cause of death – have become nothing more than disease vectors responsible for infecting innocent western health workers, tarnishing pristine nations by importing the blemish of an African scourge. And yet, American citizenship alone does not sanitize the blight of Blackness; Amber Joy Vinson, the second healthcare worker diagnosed with the virus, is already being met with scrutiny as Nina Pham’s quarantined dog receives an outpouring of support.
Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne echo this sentiment in their Washington Post piece,”The Long and Ugly Tradition of Treating Africa as a Dirty, Diseased Place,” which begins with Newsweek’s latest magazine cover: an image of a chimpanzee behind the words (pictured), “A Back Door for Ebola: Smuggled Bushmeat Could Spark a U.S. Epidemic.”
This has serious ramifications.
The Associated Press reports that two Pennsylvania soccer coaches have resigned after complaints their players hurled Ebola taunts at an opponent from West Africa. The boy is 16, from Guinea, and reportedly “worries about his parents given the Ebola outbreak there.”
He doesn’t need or deserve this treatment.
By the way, feel free to treat the latest issue of Newsweek as toilet paper.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d like to quote a FOX News anchor on all of this.
On Wednesday, Shepherd Smith proved once again why more times than not, he stands in a unique space on FOX News as the only person with even a minuscule amount of sense. In response to much of the coverage about Ebola making its way Stateside, Smith was clear: “Given what we know now, you should have no concerns about about Ebola. None.” As for those who have suggested otherwise, Smith made the most appropriate suggestion: “Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio or the television or read the fear-provoking words online. The people who say and write hysterical things are being very irresponsible.”
And they all need to grow up.
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