Update: The passenger from Lagos who died on an Arik Air flight to New York recently suffered from cardiac arrest, and is not believed to have contracted Ebola, according to the CDC.
The public face of the Ebola epidemic, now that Thomas Eric Duncan has expired, is unquestionably Thomas Frieden, the current head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the media regularly tout his role in stemming a tuberculosis outbreak in India-and addressing a similar proliferation of the disease in New York City-there is little discussion of his actions as this city’s Health Commissioner, particularly the more controversial aspects of his tenure.
I only raise this because of the perplexing behavior and words of Dr. Frieden in recent days, which, if anything, have only increased Americans’ suspicions that the government doesn’t know what it is doing. Perhaps the most bizarre statement to be issued by him thus far is the assertion that preventing foreign nationals from the three African nations decimated by the Ebola crisis from entering the United States would actually cause the virus to spread. Over a hundred people from West Africa land in this country every day, and as the Daily Signal points out, the State Department is still processing visas from non-American nationals in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, to the consternation of the current Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. This, despite the fact that those with Ebola presumably continue to board flights seeking medical treatment in the United States.
Only after a sustained public outcry has this administration even considered a possible travel ban, which might or might not be enacted. Keep in mind, this is a federal government that exhausts its seemingly illimitable resources trying to prevent the importation of perilous pumpkin seeds, deadly Steinways, and contraband queso. Yet people who might transmit one of the deadliest infectious diseases known to mankind are still being cavalierly waived through Customs.
It’s hard to believe that this laissez-faire attitude is born of any genuine conviction that freedom of travel and commerce is paramount, considering the actions described above. It’s even harder to believe that Mr. Frieden is concerned about the civil liberties-however broadly that phrase might be applied to non-Americans trying to enter this country illegally-of those from Ebola-infected nations. As Health Commissioner for New York City, he exhibited no such qualms about encroaching upon the privacy and circumscribing the rights of ordinary New Yorkers, so long as these crusades served the greater good. From an involuntary diabetes registry from which patients could not opt out, to an effort which did away with written consent for H.I.V. tests, to his tireless campaigns to extirpate the scourges of tobacco smoke and trans fats-heedless of any concern that these crusades might impinge upon people’s freedoms-there was no chapter of Thomas Frieden’s career as a public health czar in this city which could be even charitably characterized as civil liberties-friendly.
Why then is he exhibiting such concern for the theoretical travel freedom of those in West Africa who might infect thousands of unsuspecting Americans with a lethal disease? The only conclusion reasonable people can draw-as Ilana Mercer already has-is that our government’s suicidal devotion to open borders has occluded its vision of what poses a legitimate public health risk. What other rational explanation is there for a policy that consciously endangers the health and lives of American citizens while offering no countervailing public health or economic benefits? We’ve reached the point where radio and television personalities call for a prohibition upon the importation of bushmeat-which is already illegal-but don’t question the wisdom of an immigration policy which encourages the importation of people for whom bushmeat is a regional delicacy.
Like every other response of the White House to the growing threat posed by the Ebola outbreak, from the decision to appoint a Democratic fixer as the new Ebola czar-a choice in keeping with this administration’s subservience to political donors and party apparatchiks-the reluctance to confront the danger posed by migration from those nations devastated by Ebola is a purely political reaction. It’s bad enough that pre-20th century plagues which had been eradicated in the United States have returned-and expanded because of immigration from third world nations-but to invite individuals into this country who might be infected with a disease whose mortality rate ranges between sixty and eighty percent is the very definition of insanity.
If the recent Ebola crisis, and our government’s tragicomic response to it, teaches us anything, it is that the demise of this country will not come at the hands of Al Qaeda, ISIS, Russia, Iran, or any of our well-publicized enemies. It will come from a slavish obeisance to political correctness.