After getting off to a shaky start in her piece on the U. S. reaction to the Ebola outbreak (and bringing sick Americans home for treatment), Heather Wilhelm echoes a point I’ve made:
No matter your feelings on crazed grocery runs, a definite strangeness surrounds America’s leading Ebola narrative. There is, for instance, a whole lot of condescension going on. On Monday, online magazine Slate ran a “myth-busting” piece on Ebola, explaining why you’re pretty much a moron to worry even a little bit about a contagious virus that can melt your insides. The article included an alarming-looking photo, featuring three individuals in hazmat suits, with the following caption: “Members of Doctors Without Borders wear protective gear on July 23, 2014, in Conakry, Guinea, in a scene that’s not coming to the U.S. anytime soon.”
Ah, the smugness. Can you feel it? America is rich, you see. Africa, meanwhile, is The Other. This sentiment, explicit or not, is echoed repeatedly in much of the “don’t panic” press. Slate’s caption, when you think about it, isn’t too far from a recent headline from the satirical news site The Onion: “Experts: Ebola Vaccine at Least 50 White People Away.”
It’s a relief that I’m not the only one who sees it.