Common-Sense "Racism"

Expecting the West to solve Ebola in Africa is racist.

Just when you think you've seen it all, that the left cannot stoop any lower, along comes infamous bigot Jesse Jackson to remind us that there is truly no bottom:

Rev. Jesse Jackson joined Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price Tuesday in labeling the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the United States’ first Ebola patient, as racism.

According to Price, who first made the accusation to reporters earlier this week, the first dismissal of Duncan from the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital was due to racism and lack of “privilege,” not error by medical staff.

“It is historical what has happened in this community,” Price said. “If a person who looks like me shows up without any insurance, they don’t get the same treatment.”

Jackson also repeated the sentiment later that day in a piece for The Huffington Post, arguing that Duncan was treated more as a criminal rather than a patient.

“Duncan has a foreign accent, black skin, and no health insurance,” Jackson wrote. “From a theological perspective, Thomas Eric Duncan is one of our brothers described by Jesus as the ‘least of these.’ What role did his lack of privilege play in the treatment he received?”

So the good doctors and nurses of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital treat this lying indigent at great expense and at tremendous risk to their own lives - two of them are now fighting Ebola caught from him - and this is the thanks they get?

Now, you might suppose that Jesse Jackson is just one outlandish loudmouth who the 99% sane of everybody else can safely ignore.  You would be wrong; he is just the tip of the iceberg.

Rev. Jackson at least restricted his complaints to the treatment administered here in the United States - though without admitting that he was defending an individual who came here under false pretences with no right to expect anything but a boot in the backside and a quick trip home by slow boat.  His comrades in the leftist fever-swamps would never restrict their accusatory scope so.

People dying of Ebola in West Africa did not choose to be born in West Africa, any more than I chose to be born in the United States or my wife chose to be born in England. The Scriptures remind us time and again of our obligation to care for the widow, the orphan, and the sick. Accordingly, it is clearly our duty as Christians to do everything we can for the people suffering from this epidemic...

This new epidemic should re-focus us on reducing the inequality between the global North and the global South that allows crises like this one to keep happening in the developing world.

In other words: the West (basically America) needs to take full responsibility to provide full first-world health care delivery systems, indeed a full first-world lifestyle, to people in Africa because of "inequality."

Wait, What?

Let's think about this proposal for longer than the microsecond that it deserves.  Suppose that, as Americans, we found this argument persuasive, and decided that we needed to do as they suggest.

We'd send doctors.  We'd send nurses.  We'd send medicine.  Of course all those things have to get there somehow so we'd send planes.

But medical teams treating Ebola have been attacked regularly by ignorant, superstitious villagers.  It would be inhumane as well as stupid not to provide these lifesaving angels with some protection, so we'd send along our military.

The American military is the best in the world, not merely because we have the finest equipment and the most thorough training, but because our military doctrines call for the most extensive and thorough "long tail" supply chain in all of human history.  So in order to meet the medical needs of the billion people in Africa - three times as many souls as live in America - we would have to have an incredible number of bases, supply depots, seaports, airports, and so on.  Of course, all the people operating all that stuff would require infrastructure and support themselves.

How is this going to be provided in a continent which cannot even keep the lights on or the water running?  Obviously, we have to do it ourselves.

Which we're perfectly capable of... but by this time, our Gentle Readers may be feeling a slight tinge of remembrance.  Wasn't there a time not so very long ago when all of Africa ran pretty much that way?

Deja Vu All Over Again

Why, yes indeed there was.  It was called colonialism: the European Great Powers each took a section of Africa and ran it, for their own economic benefit to be sure, but also bringing modern infrastructure and governance structures.  The African people may have been second-class citizens in the European colonies, but they benefitted greatly from the white doctors, the East African Railway, the post office, the sewers, clean water, new roads, schools, and on and on.

Was this fair?  Not really, no, and after a while the nations of Africa were set free.  Most of them started off with at least the essential elements of modern infrastructure that they could have built on to increase their prosperity over time.

Alas, not one of them did, certainly not relative to the progress of the rest of the world.  Over the years, the solidly-engineered equipment fell into decay, disuse, and ultimately abandonment and looting just like Detroit.  Throughout most of Africa, the railways are dysfunctional or destroyed, the roads are worse than in the 1950s, and, as we see every day on the news, the health-care system doesn't bear talking about.  A few independent African nations haven't collapsed entirely and are able to operate pockets of second-world civilization, while surrounded by millions upon millions of people in abject poverty with little hope for anything better.

Surely Not!

So are our friends on the far left seriously suggesting as a moral imperative that we take up the White Man's Burden and run Africa better than the Africans can?  Of course not; that's why they claim that the problem is "inequality" and "racism" rather than naming the actual problems of corruption, bad governance, and cultural preferences like tribal loyalties that don't work in the modern world.

No, to the extent that they can even compile an intelligible policy proposal, they're saying that we rich Western whites need to start writing big checks to Africa so that they can afford to buy everything they need.  This has the appeal of simplicity.

Unfortunately, it has no basis in reality.  We have been writing big checks to Africa for half a century now.  It's all wound up in Swiss bank accounts of kleptocrats while life for ordinary Africans has gotten worse overall.  Those arguing for this sort of solution define themselves as insane, by insisting that we continue to repeat the no-strings-attached aid policies that have long since been proven not to work.  Even Africans themselves are now arguing that foreign aid does more harm than good.

Which brings us back to Jesse Jackson, who accidentally put his finger squarely on the relevant issue surrounding the late Thomas Duncan:

What role did his lack of privilege play in the treatment he received?

In the final analysis, a great deal: he was grossly underprivileged simply be being African, in Africa, exposed to African diseases because of incompetent African public health systems and general African ignorance.  He came to the United States by lying to get here, but that's on his own head.

Once he arrived in an American hospital, it's absurd to think that he didn't receive an adequate level of care.  26 people took care of him at a cost of about a half-million dollars.  No doctor or nurse is going to knowingly send an Ebola patient home with some aspirin.  In fact, the doctors asked Mr. Duncan about any possible exposure to Ebola, and he lied to them too; how do you expect an accurate diagnosis to be made when the patient lies to the doctor?

The real question is: what was he doing there at all?  Why was he allowed into the United States from a place known to be infested with Ebola?

Mr. Duncan was a citizen of Liberia.  To the extent that anyone is responsible for him, it is the Liberian government, combined with his family and his own efforts.

What possible reason could there be for expecting the people of the United States to provide for Mr. Duncan's needs or a half-million dollars worth of  medical care, any more than for the entire rest of Africa?  That's tantamount to colonialism, which as the Left never ceases to remind us, is racism.

Since, like all right-thinking people, we reject racism, we equally reject colonialism.  We reject the Left's racist call to recolonize Africa and take care of their diseases, and we reject Jesse Jackson's racist assumption that America has some sort of duty or responsibility to care for a citizen of an independent foreign nation, as if he were not a full-grown human being with his own set of human rights to take care of himself.

Who do they think we are, 19th century slaveowners who believed that blacks were morally equivalent to children, incapable of taking on the responsibilities of adulthood?

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
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