“I am scared about how health care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa. I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine.”
—Kaci Hickox, nurse for Doctors Without Borders
Much of the Republican Party is at war with science, as its last political platform and other sources of Republican opinions would indicate. Consider:
♦ A majority of Republicans believe global warming is a hoax, therefore drill, baby, drill.
♦ The 2012 GOP platform expressly opposes embryonic stem cell research because, as many conservatives believe, embryos should be constitutionally protected people.
♦ That also means, of course, that the creation of surplus embryos used for in vitro fertilization is a no-no.
♦ Many religious conservatives falsely believe that IUDs and emergency contraception pills are abortifacients and, thus, baby-killers.
♦ Anti-choice Republicans also claim that abortion is more dangerous than childbirth, which is not only not true but its opposite is overwhelmingly true.
♦ A vast majority of white evangelical Republicans don’t believe in evolution and many want to teach a version of creationism in science classrooms.
So, because he wants to be his party’s presidential candidate in 2016, it should come as no surprise that Chris Christie is the first Republican governor in the country to do something utterly anti-scientific, if politically popular, regarding Ebola.
Not only did Christie forcibly quarantine Ebola-fighting super-nurse Kaci Hickox in a tent outside a hospital in New Jersey, but after receiving some fairly intense criticism from medical and health professionals, he actually defended his actions by appealing not to other health professionals in his state or elsewhere, but to the American people, who have been scared out of their wits by people like Chris Christie:
The American public believes this is common sense and we’re not moving an inch. Our policy hasn’t changed and our policy will not change.
It doesn’t matter that Christie and his policy of forcibly quarantining someone without symptoms of Ebola infection lacks any scientific or medical justification. Nor does it matter that forcibly quarantining Ebola-fighters might make it more difficult to fight the virus at its source in West Africa. What matters is that he has a frightened public behind him.
But this would be a great time for Christie to demonstrate his much-touted leadership skills and lead his party, and the American people, away from fear and misconceptions about the transmissibility of Ebola. Instead, he feeds those fears and, worse, feeds off those fears.
He ought to be ashamed of himself. But he won’t be, obviously. Maybe some journalist should shame him by asking him whether he would have ordered Kaci Hickox, who was not sick and did not test positive for Ebola, shot and killed should she have tried to leave that tent.