Friday, October 17, 2014

Ebola Is About Race

... because everything is about race.

Up to now, I've not been able to figure out why we don't have a travel ban on flights from infected countries and why we're not taking steps to close our borders. While it won't stop the spread, it will certainly slow it down. I'd rather fight the disease inside the country with 5-10 initial cases than 500-1,000.

Peggy Noonan today shows what gobbledygook the Administration response is to questions about travel bans. It's clearly lies, but why? Up to now, I'd thought it was the traditional Democrat fetishization of race. Africans are black and any restrictions on blacks is racist. A travel ban is racist and therefore religious apostasy to the Administration.

Jonathon Last disabused me of this notion. It is indeed about race, but, being more precise, it's about racial politics.
Marine Corps General John F. Kelly talked about Ebola at the National Defense University two weeks ago and mused about what would happen if Ebola reached Haiti or Central America, which have relatively easy access to America. “If it breaks out, it’s literally ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Kelly said. “They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.” ...

Ebola has the potential to reshuffle American attitudes to immigration. If you agree to seal the borders to mitigate the risks from Ebola, you’re implicitly rejecting the “open borders” mindset and admitting that there are cases in which government has a duty to protect citizens from outsiders. Some people on the left admit to seeing this as the thin end of the wedge. Writing in the New Yorker, Michael Specter lamented, “Several politicians, like Governor Bobby Jindal, of Louisiana, have turned the epidemic into fodder for their campaign to halt immigration.” And that sort of thing just can’t be allowed.

What would happen in the event of an Ebola outbreak in Latin America? Then America would have to worry about masses of uninfected immigrants surging across the border—not to mention carriers of the virus. And if we had decided it was okay to cut off flights from West Africa, would we decide it was okay to try to seal the Southern border too? You can see how the entire immigration project might start to come apart.
And there you have it. If Democrat leaders become pro-border-security, the party loses its key wedge issue with Hispanics. Since the Democrats live and die with racial-block voting, they can't give up this issue. If Hispanics ever divided their votes 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, the progressive era would be over, o-v-e-r.

On the plus side, an Ebola outbreak would make it easier for the Democrats to vote the graveyard.


tim eisele said...

While "cutting off flights from West Africa" sounds simple enough, there are two enormous problems with it:

1) Most people coming to the US from West Africa evidently don't fly direct. They fly up to Europe and transfer there (the man who originally carried ebola from Liberia to Dallas came by way of Brussels). So, cutting off travel from West Africa basically means either cutting off flights from Europe (an enormously bigger undertaking), or getting the Europeans to cut off the flights from Africa.

2. Quarantines are hugely expensive economy-killers. Basically, whoever gets quarantined, their economy stops dead. The bigger the area you quarantine, the bigger the economic hit. So, you need to balance fears of infection spreading against how much of the world economy you are willing to crash.

And, as the person you quoted was pointing out, closing our *own* border gets progressively more problematic as the disease takes hold in more and closer places. The important consideration in a quarantine isn't so much keeping other people from getting into our country, as in keeping them from getting out of the quarantined area of theirs.

I know you are not keen on the idea of sending the military into West Africa, but first off, who is better at building field hospitals than the military? And second, if we are going to enforce a quarantine, it will be way more effective to enforce it on that end than on this end.

K T Cat said...

1. Current traveler databases are designed to detect people coming from trouble spots. In the past, it was terrorism hotbeds. A small change in the queries and you could find the ones coming in from infected countries.

2. Like I care. If the thing breaks out in the US, the whole world is hosed to a degree no one is contemplating in print. Imagine what happens to the markets when we decide we have to quarantine New Orleans. Look at shipping stats for the Mississippi river and think about what economic impact that would have.

Yes, closing borders is problematic. So is protecting your house. Just because basic precautions aren't going to stop the gang from Oceans 11 from breaking in, it doesn't mean you leave your doors unlocked and your car keys on a hook outside your house.

K T Cat said...

Re: enforcing a quarantine in Africa. Liberia is 4M people in 43,000 square miles. If we can't control our own border, how in the world will you control one that size under those conditions thousands of miles away?

Foxfier said...

Maybe something like "We will not allow any flight that has someone with a (listed infected country) to unload their passengers, and those airlines that are found to have done so will be unwelcome until the epidemic is controlled."

Dying while bleeding from your eyeballs tends to have an impact on economic activity as well.

It won't solve the issue of those entering the country illegally, but the lock on my door doesn't stop someone who's willing to bust a window. Doesn't mean it's not a vital part of home defense.

Foxfier said...

There are two nurses who are facing literal bloody death because those in power were stupid enough to believe that nobody would lie about ebola exposure when coming from an epidemic soaked area, and there are probably going to be more.

Trigger Warning said...

One thing we might do is stop expediting visas and waiving visa fees for Guineans, Sierra Leonians, and Liberians.

Of course, we mustn't close the borders because we absolutely must make the perfect the enemy of the good and some guys just might manage to sneak through. No oranges from Mexico, though! Those suckers are deadly.