Ebola: Americans First!

It’s not real surprising that Americans are reacting to the one Ebola death in this country by ignoring the tens of thousands of deaths that may soon happen in West Africa (and elsewhere) and asking for some kind of insulation from risk–i.e., by banning all flights from affected areas to the U.S. To some extent it’s just human nature. And it’s more understandable than, say, the indifference of Americans to “collateral damage” killings of many thousands of foreign civilians by our own weapons in wars past and present.

But as Jonathan Cohn explains at TNR today, it’s a self-defeating attitude when it comes to Ebola:

[Y]ou can’t truly wipe out the Ebola threat, even for Americans, without controlling it overseas. As long as it’s un-contained, it will continue to make its way to other countries—carried by people over land, sea, or air—because the world is simply too interconnected to shut down borders completely. Meanwhile, the damage to social and economic fabric of Africa could be devastating, in ways that would hurt the U.S. over the long run.

“Over the long run” is often hard to people in a state of fear to consider, but any way you look at it, the “long run” will arrive.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.