Hat tip to Rhyd Wildermuth for putting me in the mood for a jokey list.
As we all know, if you’re a well-off American citizen living on American soil, there’s a virtually infinite variety of ways that you can become infected with Ebola–CDC be damned. Here are just a few:
1. Touch the hand of someone who touched the hand of someone who touched the hand of someone who knows someone who read a news article about Ebola.
2. Turn off the bathroom light and say “Ebola” three times into the mirror.
3. Post on Facebook about the likelihood that all the doorknobs in your city are covered in Ebola. You don’t have to touch the doorknobs. The post will be enough.
4. Sit on a park bench and watch people walk by. When someone sneezes, narrow your eyes at them.
5. Accidentally invoke Ebola at your Yule ritual.
6. Intentionally invoke Ebola at your Yule ritual. Because you wanted to invoke Air but that stupid person you don’t like snapped it up.
7. Play the board game Pandemic with some buds. Place an infection cube on your own city, look up, and grimly whisper, “my gods.”
8. Watch Outbreak, then Contagion, and then run around your neighborhood screaming “IT’S IN THE CHEMTRAILS!” When someone points out there were no chemtrails in those movies, just shake your head at them in disgust.
9. After that, watch Night of the Living Dead and some episodes of The Walking Dead and then play The Last of Us. Oh, and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Because why not round things out? I can’t believe Kurt Russell doesn’t wear gloves during the blood test!
And, the most surefire way to get Ebola:
10. Spend a day in the same state or region as someone who meticulously followed all safety procedures while working with Ebola patients, has never shown symptoms, and tested negative for Ebola twice. Spend lots of time and energy calling her a “selfish b*tch” for following some whim to go take care of people you will never care about. Emphasize, over and over again, that your safety is more important than her rights. Roll your eyes at “science.” Because, as we all know, science is only worthwhile when it supports what you already believe.
And if none of the steps above result in you having Ebola… simply wait for the next exotic threat to come along and fuel your rage.
* * *
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was subjected to interrogation and an attempted quarantine upon returning from her work in Sierra Leone. A taste of the absurdity she was (briefly, thank goodness) subjected to upon landing on US soil:
She’s not allowed to have her luggage and was given paper scrubs to wear. Hickox said she has no shower, no flushable toilet and the hospital gave her no television or any reading material. Mostly, she says, she stares at the walls….
Hickox said she’s not allowed to see her lawyer or anyone else.
“The tent has a window, and doctors talk to me in normal clothes from outside the window,” she says. “So if there’s no risk to them talking to me from outside the window, it doesn’t make any sense that my lawyer wouldn’t be able to do the same.”
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. To do the work that Hickox and other healthcare workers are doing is beyond selflessness and beyond love. And the fact that they’re being met with such hostility and disgust when they arrive back at home speaks not to the danger of Ebola–if you still don’t know how it can and can’t spread, then please, educate yourself–but to the West’s hatred of the Other. Think of the AIDS epidemic: straight folk were so concerned about whether they could get AIDS from toilet seats that it never occurred to them to treat the freaking disease.
Yes, I have actually seen Hickox called a “selfish b*tch” who just “wants to be a hero.” Yes, people I know have actually expressed outrage that she is now existing in the same geographic region as them. Their rallying cry is “she may be infected! You never know!” and no amount of evidence or scientific thinking will sway them. At no point is there any recognition that perhaps the work she’s doing is important. That maybe–and you might want to sit down for this–African lives are worth saving.
There was an article a couple of weeks ago, which I’m not going to link to, that included a picture of a child lying on the floor of a hospital and staring at the camera. A couple of paragraphs into the article, it became clear that the girl in the photo was dead. I have never in my life seen the body of a dead white child plastered on national media like a morbid curio. Black and brown lives, in the ideology of the West, are simply worth less than white lives. At all times, in every way. This attitude simmers, then erupts when a white person has the gall to treat black and brown lives as important. She’s seen as a traitor. How dare she prioritize “them” over “us.”
In “the sky is blue” news: we can’t go on like this. We have to transition to a society based on love and respect, rather than hatred and fear. To care for other human beings is a divine mandate, no matter which religion you follow. There’s simply no excuse to choose fear over love. Kaci Hickox and her colleagues are warriors and heroes, and should be honored as such.
Seriously, how many times do we have to go over this?