Disease and Race

Biosafety_level_4_hazmat_suit_ebolaBCN editor’s note: please contact the author for reprint permission.

Is it racist to restrict flights from Western Africa as a precaution against an incurable disease, or is it racist to let 3,000 African children die daily from a preventable disease?

Being so out of touch should be grounds for immediate termination. On MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show this past weekend, criticizing those on Capitol Hill who want to suppress the Ebola virus by limited flights into the United States, Laurie Garrett, Sr. Fellow for Global Health for the Council on Foreign Relations, said,

“I was on Capitol Hill yesterday. I spoke to lot of the political leadership of the United States and I have to say I was stunned by how many felt the solution was to completely cut off Africa. no visas. no travel. Keep them out. And this is completely missing the point. The hysteria should not be about one person in Dallas. What the world should be hysterical about is that Africa is facing its greatest catastrophic crisis arguably since the days of slavery. This could turn into carnage across a whole region if the world does not assist immediately.”

In the first instance, several African nations disagree with Garrett. In fact, Kenya Airways, British Airways, Air Cote D’Ivoire and Nigeria’s Arik Air have suspended flights from the countries. I think the point that is not well articulated is that the restrictions should apply to commercial travel. No one would suggest that aid workers should not be able to get in and out of the country to help suppress this epidemic. Such a restriction would be counter-productive. But to call a commercial travel ban from the West Africa countries responding to this epidemic racist as Garrett did over this past weekend, or to say that a “ban is not an optimal measure for controlling the import of the Ebola virus disease,” as did Stephanie Dujarric from the UN, is absurd on its face.

Moreover, Garrett’s claim that Africa is facing its greatest catastrophic crisis since slavery is just embarrassing. The stupidity of Garrett’s statement reminds me of Rosie O’Donnell on The View when she said, in support of her conspiracy theory that 911 was an inside job. “This is the first time fire ever bent steal!” What’s worse, no one corrected her when she made the moronic declaration.

Note to Ms. Garrett: While 3,865 have died from Ebola since March, 3,000 black African children die every day from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. It was not so long ago that vital aid was provided to Africa with the pesticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (“DDT”). DDT wiped out malaria here in the U.S. and was impacting the malaria epidemic in Africa until environmentalist Rachel Carson wrote Silent Sprint in 1962. The pesticide was banned globally in 1996 on the basis that it is a probable (but not proven) human carcinogen.

Because of liberals like Garrett in the “racist” environmental movement, the world sits back and watches as 90% of the 50 million malaria cases per year occur in Africa; 1 million people die of malaria each year, and nearly 3,000 African children die DAILY from malaria because of the ban on DDT.  This should put Ebola in an interesting perspective. The number of deaths in Africa from malaria is an epidemic that is curable and has gone untreated by DDT.

Since Garrett is so upset about how we propose to treat Africa in this Ebola age, perhaps she could turn her attention to saving 3,000 children who die EVERY DAY in Africa. If she doesn’t, does that make her a racist?


As of October 5, 2014, there have been 8,033 cases of Ebola with 4,461 confirmed cases by laboratory and 3,865 deaths across Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal and the United States. This is the largest Ebola epidemic in history which began in March 2014.

Marc Little_2Marc Little is the author of The Prodigal Republican: Faith and Politics. His web site is The Prodigal Republican.

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