In a recent edition of The Advocate, Eugene Robinson chimed in with another opinion piece stating that banning travel from the Ebola regions of Africa is “foolish.” I have heard a number of commentators say the same thing. I’ve yet to hear a convincing reason why this quarantine should not be implemented.
Robinson and others have said it would discourage health workers who might have volunteered to go to Africa because they would be afraid of not being able to return. He also mentions the troops we’ve sent. Does he seriously think that banning commercial flights out of infected regions would apply to American troops and American health workers? I’m not in the government or the military, but I would bet any amount you’d care to name that no power on Earth would stop the military from evacuating our troops or aid workers out of Liberia for any reason at all and especially if they fell ill.
I may be a tad cynical, but I suspect that the reason these commentators keep spouting this tripe is that a) they feel comfortable that they are not personally at risk and b) they feel that if Ebola gets a foothold in First World countries, it will be addressed far more vigorously than if it stays in countries so corrupt that aid shipments are held up for a month because of political turf wars in Africa.
I believe it is insane to let potentially infected people into this country. Is anyone suggesting that Thomas Duncan’s family, exposed to him before his death, be allowed to just wander around? Of course not.
We should ban all travelers from those African states and ban all travelers from countries that don’t ban all travelers from those African states. Military and health workers would be exempted and, at the same time, subjected to strictest scrutiny — not only for the general welfare but for their own. Anything else is tantamount to murder. Anyone attempting to circumvent the rules should be prosecuted just as if they attempted to bring a biological weapon into the country.
As for Eugene Robinson, keep those columns coming. They are a constant reminder of how important it is for thinking people to vote.