For Americans, ebola is the new AIDS. It's not only the nightmare plague that is supposed to obsess our imaginations, all day long and every day, as we sip the first cup of coffee or the first martini or the first 2000 calorie big gulp of diabetic shock at our favorite fat-food joint, but, wait, it is also a "disease with human rights," as my late friend Irving Louis Horowitz once described AIDS.
If you want to escape the mental contagion of this epidemic, you have only to read Jim Tate's brilliant satire in the new issue of Chronicles, or, if black humor is not your cup of coffee, gin, or Mountain Dew, just pretend to be Italian. If you insist on being American, then you are condemned to look at the Drudge or FOX or CNN websites, and there it is ebola 24/7, just as it has been Ferguson, Mo, and before that Trayvon and George, Monika and Bill, the OJ Simpson trial... To quote an early "Beat" (or rather proto-Beat) poet, "And the thing is, they never get wise."
You can get wise on the cheap, simply by changing your name from Guy to Guido, canceling out CNN and Free Republic, and move to the Corriere della Sera site, where ebola coverage is virtually niente, niente affatto, unless you count the piece you will find, after several minutes of scrolling, near the bottom. This tells us about the American soldiers being quarantined here in Italy.
It's not that Italians don't follow world news. They are as stupid as the rest of us in that respect, maybe even stupider in this regard, since educated Italians actually read their newspapers—sometimes two of them—all the way through instead of sticking—as I do—to gossip columns and the funny papers. But, when it comes to the big gossip stories of violence, plagues, and shenanigans in high places, they tend to ignore the rest of the world. The US space program made little impact on the Italian mind until one of the astronauts uttered the immortal, "Ciao" in space. ITALIAN SPOKEN ON THE MOON, or something like, went the headlines.
Americans are forever being excoriated for their narrow-minded chauvinism. If an airliner goes into the drink in the Indian Ocean, killing 400 passengers, only two of them American, the headlines in the US will read, TWO AMERICANS KILLED IN DEADLY AIRLINE CRASH. Why is this wrong? Any normal person cares most about family and friends, then neighbors and fellow townsmen, and, finally, fellow-citizens, who have as faint a personal connection with us as can be maintained unless we are going to speak of the brotherhood of man—and even that is narrow-minded speciesism. (Please note that my spellcheck did not challenge "speciesism.")
Italians, who are not as crazy as we are, know instinctively that ebola is not an Italian problem, a European problem, or an American problem. It's an African problem, a plague that is only conceivable in countries that generate plagues as rapidly as flies from the Nile mud. (Please don't try to refute that ancient theory!) Where the people are hopelessly superstitious, the government irredeemably corrupt, and standards of ordinary hygiene virtually nonexistent—where, in fact the natives kill the doctors trying to cure them because it's suspicious, isn't it, how many ebola sufferers die when they go to the hospital—even massive outside intervention only rarely can combat an epidemic.
Ebola is not an Australian problem, either, because Australia has a government that is not yet dominated by people who hate the citizens and prefers to spend their—the citizens'—money on saving strangers from the consequences of their behavior. We cannot shut the border with Mexico because that is cruel to aspiring Latin American immigrants who are trying to escape from the governments that they have empowered, governments that reflect all too accurately the character of the people. The more lower class Mexicans we let in, the more our country will resemble Tijuana or Juarez. Just walk over the bridge some time, from El Paso to Juarez: the change is more than a change from one city to another or one country to another. The change is from one world to another. Frankly, I am quite fond of what Juarez used to be and certainly prefer it to what America has become, but it is suicidal to want to import Juarez-world into the USA.
So, for the same reason, the Obama administration cannot simply close our border to visitors from West African countries with ebola cases, because it is better that Americans should fear—and actually face—death than it is to deprive any of the President's fellow-Africans of the right (not the privilege) to come to America and sponge off the taxpayers. Who knows? He may be the first son of an African revolutionary, After being showered with largesse and privilege, to become President of the United States, but at the rate we are going, he will not be the last.
If American politicians—with all their massive stupidity, ignorance, and dishonesty—had any interest in protecting the citizenry, they would have immediately taken the obvious steps: 1) No one enters the United States—including doctors and nurses—from a country with active ebola cases without being put into quarantine. If they are Americans, the quarantine can be in the States; 2) No foreigners from these countries will be allowed in except for urgent necessity (affairs of state, etc.) Yes, organizations like "Doctors Against Borders, Nations, Religions, and Peoples," would scream that such measures would discourage American health professionals from going to Africa to heal the sick instead of healing the sick in the communities where they live and work. And what if it did? The personal values embraced by a doctor or nurse is of no concern to American citizens or to the politicians who are supposed to serve and protect the people.
A line in the sand was drawn a long time ago, but these days it is being filled with brightly colored concrete. On the one side, stand perhaps a small majority of Americans, many of them stupid, corrupt, and feeble, but who still nonetheless persist in thinking they have a country whose people need to defend themselves against aliens—whether terrorists, welfare-seeking immigrants, or viruses. They may be silly sentimental soccer moms, Southern Democrats who have kept the party of evil in power for their own purposes and personal profit, corrupt and self-seeking Republicans on the same moral plane as Mitch McConnell, but they do not out and out hate the people of this country, and, if they were not stupid and greedy, they might not even go along with all the plans and projects devised by ideology-crazed intellectuals and political fanatics who are destroying the most fundamental institutions of the human race. They, and not the designated minorities they pander to, are the enemy. Better a country run by Africans and Mexicans than by the leadership of the Democratic Party.
On the other side are people like our President and his cabinet, MS Clinton and Harry Reid, and most of the middle and upper class people who vote for them. Even if there were nothing in it for them personally—and the very thought of that being possible should cause snickers across the millennia of space and time—they would still be destroying our constitution and with it the rule of law, redefining marriage out of existence, and importing every alien plague and pestilence including the religion of peace into our country. A Tennessee friend of mine used to say whenever I attempted to correct his table manners or musical taste, "it's what I do." For these people making war on the beautiful and true is simply what the do.
Sam Francis once wisely observed that H.P. Lovecraft, in inventing "the old ones"—ancient demons that once ruled the earth but have been driven into another dimension by the human race—was riffing on the immigration invasion of his own time. If the Obama administration had any guts, it would replace "In God we trust," with a new motto: There is no g-d but Cthulhu and Obama (or Hilary or Bill Gates Warren Buffet Steve Jobs.......) is his prophet.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.