The day we learned of the two American aid workers stricken with Ebola in Liberia, I started hearing from talk show listeners with a variety of views. Here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, there was particular attention to the Fort Worth church community of Dr. Kent Brantly, who has earned appropriate praise for his selflessness in traveling across an ocean to care for people in a cauldron of poverty no American has ever experienced.
His colleague, Nancy Writebol, is no less honorable for her devotion to the cause. But as the story broke, a common sentiment began to attach itself to our prayerful good wishes.
In a sentence: They’d better not be brought back to America. But days later, they were on separate planes to Emory University in Atlanta.
I asked callers whether their concern was based on a fear of a mishap at Emory resulting in additional infection, or based on mistrust of all the people telling us on TV that there is nothing to worry about.
The answer was both. A lot of both. So I looked in the mirror and weighed my own reaction. I want the best treatment possible for these Americans who gave so much of themselves, but I cannot grow dismissive about my other countrymen put at risk by the decision to fly them back.
Do I expect a mishap? No. Do I have active mistrust of officials and TV experts so determined to comfort me that they suggest I’m kind of a moron if I worry at all? Yes, that’s a problem.
Remember, we have a government and no small number of medical voices who have told us that countless spottily-immunized border kids pose no health risk once inside our nation. Not so long ago, we had armies of people with medical degrees twisting our arms to believe AIDS was an equal risk to gays and straights. Today, we can find countless people with lab coats and degrees who will tell us they know beyond doubt that human productivity has changed the temperature of the planet. Don’t tell me medicine and science are not corruptible.
But with no specific agenda I can firmly detect to poison the testimony of the majority of experts, I am stopping short of suggesting the return of these Americans was demonstrably reckless. But it is not my favorite thing.
An Atlanta surgeon interviewed by ABC said the Ebola patients need two things— top doctors and cutting-edge technology, both of which are portable to Liberia. This does not sound unreasonable. So I brought to the radio my moderate approval of the Ebola patients’ return, tempered by the hope that nothing goes wrong and the ever-present concern that maybe somewhere people are not being wholly honest.