Dec 28

ISIS is the New Ebola

If your Christmas gathering this year was like mine, it was horrible. All we could talk about were the people in our lives we lost to Ebola. A couple of friends at the table broke down into tears just thinking about it. Because of this plight, we all wore masks which we lifted the corners of to fork in the turkey and mashed potatoes. It was a necessary precaution because we didn’t know where anyone at the table had been or with whom they had been in contact. Despite the unseasonable warmth, it was a cold Christmas all the same.

Your holiday celebration wasn’t like that? Neither was mine. Actually, my Christmas was quite nice.

Remember Ebola. It gave us something to talk about in 2014. Our medical experts said American resources are different from those they have in Africa, and we had little to worry about. That didn’t stop some from panicking.

Man looking frightened

There’s an Ebola over there.

For instance, the conservative mouthpieces started calling for travel to be banned from Africa. Rand Paul even suggested that bringing back our soldiers who worked in Africa to contain the disease would potentially doom us all.

Conservative blogs started wringing their hands about leadership failures in the White House because our President was listening to the experts in the CDC instead of them. “Travel bans!” they all cried in unison. On the heels of this sentiment came one that required us to isolate somebody. A Republican governor responded by locking up an American nurse returning from compassionate work in Africa although every expert in the world said it was unnecessary. (Admittedly, a Democratic governor almost gave into the same panic, but in the end listened to the experts and let the health workers go home to monitor themselves. Better late than never.)

The conservatives were all predicting our “lack of response” would bring us an apocalypse that would make the Walking Dead look like a walk in the park on any given Sunday. For those not fluent in the conservative language, “lack of response” translates to “lack of panic” in English.  The president and other authorities weren’t panicking enough for them.

Whenever something the least bit exploitable hits the news, you can count on members of the GOP, the proclaimed party of the conservatives, to do two things. Once the news hits, they barely skip a beat before they tell you why you should be afraid. Skip a few more beats, and they will describe to you who should be kept out of this country (for foreigners) or who should lose their civil liberties (for Americans).

Now, it’s ISIS. Statistically, ISIS isn’t going to touch your life. It just isn’t. The group probably will not even hurt anybody you know. The stats are so against it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything about ISIS. It just means we should keep a perspective and not be so damn afraid as a nation.

Nonetheless, the Republican frontrunner is still drawing crowds talking about things like travel bans and registering people all according to a religious test clearly frowned upon by our Constitution. It’s true the conservative candidates who understand their need to appeal to centrists for the general election have done the politically expedient thing of denouncing such talk. But the real face of conservatism is at the place where they draw the crowds. Even having made these un-American suggestions, Mr. Trump has not lost any attendance at his rallies nor numbers in the polls.

We would hope conservatives would learn from some of their recent  useless panics. But, all we can do is hope.

However, in typical fear and panic style, Americans are burning Mosques where other Americans worship. Meanwhile, conservatives criticize Obama because the president has chosen not to make ISIS’s day by calling them Islamist and turning it into the holy war these extremists want. Conservatives want to blame a one-size-fits-all generic Muslim for their fears. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all generic Muslim. It seems ISIS isn’t the only group hoping for a holy war.

It’s Ebola panic all over again.  FDR’s famous fear quote is too easy here. When we stop letting the conservative fear mongers* (aided by the ratings-hungry media) tell us that we should be afraid and how we should react, we’ll be a lot better for it.

Right now, we have other things to do. We need to stay rational which will naturally instill courage in us. We need to start thinking for ourselves and to begin questioning why others are so bent on us living in fear and pessimism to the point that we’re willing to give up our principles. Until we do, they own us.

So, if you’re on-board, start by repeating after me: “ISIS is the new Ebola.”

*(It all comes down to the middle-class white fear of losing economic and social power and trying to control others in an attempt to regain it.  But that’s a discussion for another time.)


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