Ebola is not nearly as dangerous as some of the GOP would want you to believe. No doubt, the disease is highly infectious but compared to diseases like the flu or measles, for which their are vaccines, it is not nearly as contagious. Modern, civilized healthcare systems, like the one in the United States, are completely competent and capable of controlling the disease and preventing its spread here at home.
It’s a disease that is absolutely terrifying, if you have it. It has a devastatingly high mortality rate But unless you come in direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person who is showing symptoms, you will not contract Ebola.
That doesn’t stop the Right from encouraging a “Shut down the border, defend the homeland!” mentality. GOP notables like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, and others have each in some way suggested restricting travel with nations where the Ebola outbreak is severe.
It’s a reaction that in some ways sounds perfectly reasonable to the uneducated mind. The disease is terrifying and people can spread it to other people, we should do everything in our power to prevent that from happening. Close the border, monitor everyone, etc. The problem is that the consequences of such action would be far worse than the potential exposure we face by simply modifying travel practices. In a world where travel is completely restricted, people would be more likely to resort to dishonest means of travel. This puts them outside of the travel channels that can be actively monitored and effectively controlled. Private organizations helping in the afflicted areas would also face needless complications in go into the areas to help with the recovery.
The simple truth is that the most effective means of protecting Americans from Ebola is to provide assistance to those countries least capable of responding to the outbreak. Only by getting the outbreak under control in those nations can we prevent its spread. It’s likely inevitable that more cases will occur in the United States, but we are capable of responding to and controlling that threat. The only way to fight this is to go to the source.
The GOP is dead wrong when it claims that the best response is to isolate ourselves and leave those nations to their own devices.