Ebola panic before Ebola panic was cool
With sincere regret, I must report that Navarro College is not able to offer you acceptance for the Spring 2015 term. Unfortunately, Navarro College is not accepting international students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases.
–October 2 rejection letter from Navarro College in Corsicana, TX to two students from Nigeria (declared Ebola-free on October 20)
[R]eports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus, and tuberculosis are particularly concerning. Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles. This makes those Americans that are not vaccinated–and especially young children and the elderly–particularly susceptible.
–July 7 letter from Texas Congressman Phil Gingrey, M.D. arguing that the CDC “take immediate action to assess the public risk posed by the influx of unaccompanied children and their subsequent transfer to differnt parts of the country”
The evidence is not completely in as to the communicability of the disease. But while much has been said that is reassuring, the moment has not yet come when men and women of science are unanimously agreed that AIDS cannot be casually communicated. Let us be patient on that score, pending any tilt in the evidence: If the news is progressively reassuring, public identification would not be necessary. If it turns in the other direction and AIDS develops among, say, children who have merely roughhoused with other children who suffer from AIDS, then more drastic segregation measures would be called for.
But if the time has not come, and may never come, for public identification, what then of private identification?
Everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper forearm, to protect common-needle users, and on the buttocks, to prevent the victimization of other homosexuals.
You have got to be kidding! That’s exactly what we suspected all along! You are calling for the return of the Scarlet Letter, but only for homosexuals!
Answer: The Scarlet Letter was designed to stimulate public obloquy. The AIDS tattoo is designed for private protection. And the whole point of this is that we are not talking about a kidding matter. Our society is generally threatened, and in order to fight AIDS, we need the civil equivalent of universal military training.
—William F. Buckley, “Crucial Steps in Combating the Aids Epidemic: Identify All the Carriers,” New York Times March 18, 1986 op-ed
If it sounds familiar, it probably is. Which doesn’t help if you’re Nigerian.