Americans were badly shaken this fall when missteps by the Texas hospital that handled one of the first cases of Ebola virus on American soil led to a minor outbreak in the U.S.
While politicians of all stripes ignored expert opinions suggesting that travel bans and quarantines could be counterproductive and instead called for both, right-wing personalities spread medically questionable “facts” about how the disease could spread and stoked nativist fears with panicked predictions that infected immigrants could swarm the border. Quite a few even suggested that President Obama was responsible for the virus’ spread.
Reacting on Oct. 24 to news that a doctor who treated Ebola patients in Guinea tested positive for the illness after returning to New York City, billionaire birther Donald Trump tweeted, “Ebola has been confirmed in N.Y.C., with officials frantically trying to find all of the people and things [the victim] had contact with. Obama’s fault.”
WorldNetDaily Columnist Erik Rush, in an Oct. 29 column titled “Does White House Want An Ebola Epidemic in the U.S.?,” wrote, “I feel quite comfortable maintaining that this administration … might well intend to facilitate an Ebola epidemic in the United States.”
Dr. Keith Ablow, a Fox News contributor and assistant professor at Tufts University, agreed. After proposing elsewhere that Obama has “affinities” for Africa and resents the West for its colonial adventures there, he wrote in an Oct. 9 column for FoxNews.com: “In order for President Obama to keep thinking of himself as the leader of the world – and not just the free world – it may be that our boundaries must remain porous, allowing illegal immigrants and, potentially, even diseases to flow through them.”
Larry Klayman, a lawyer who once called on Obama to “put the Koran down” and “come out [of the White House] with his hands up,” wasn’t about to let that happen. On Oct. 14, he sued the president and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for supposedly “furthering acts of terrorism” by refusing to close the border.
While he did not explicitly blame Obama for the outbreak, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) fanned the flames of panic and contradicted experts, implying Ebola can be transmitted through the air and that the government is hiding that so-called fact. “It’s an incredibly transmissible disease that everyone is downplaying,” he told Glenn Beck on Oct. 1.
U.S. Rep Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), meanwhile, suggested that plans to send military aid to Ebola-stricken regions would be futile and dangerous. “Political correctness ... is getting military members killed,” he told Lou Dobbs on Oct. 1. “This is the heart of the problem, political correctness, and by the way, the same kind of idea would send 3,000 military into where they can get Ebola that they can bring back. The military’s not trained to go catch Ebola and die.”