The story goes something like this (that is, if you read what’s on the Internet):
President Obama (born in Kenya, as all conservatives know) contracted Ebola, congenitally, at birth. He’s disguised his hatred of white Americans for many years (as all Republicans know). And now—finally—he’s spread Ebola in the United States, with a goal of reducing the white population so that it is less than the black population. That’s the reason he won’t agree to a travel ban on flights from Africa—which is one country, as all Fox commentators know—because he, alone, knows that that won’t change anything. And the three people in America (including the one who has died) contracted Ebola from Obama and not from Africa. So the way to solve the Ebola problem is to quarantine the President (some people believe this has already happened).
I hesitate in writing this piece because once it’s published too many people will believe that it’s the truth. A month and a half after Obama was elected, I published a satirical piece on CounterPunch that was titled “Impeach Obama.” In that brief essay I wrote that he’d been wasting his time searching for a dog for his children, filling in basketball brackets, and ignoring his presidential duties. He hadn’t fixed everything. Too many readers thought I was serious. Two years later, a state senator in a Southern state sent me an email. He was running for re-election and asked if I could bring him up-to-date with the Impeach Obama movement.
Obama has, sadly, confronted increasing racism since the first day of his presumably post-racial presidency. Republican strategists have done everything possible to make certain that racism in our country is growing and not being eliminated. The Internet is filled with the most disgusting “information” about the man and his wife. From day one, he didn’t have a chance.
Ebola is the ideal focal point for anger against the president, because few Americans know anything about the history of the disease and most know even less about the African continent, with its varied and enormously different 54 countries. They’re not interested. They’re more interested in computer games, TV, and other forms of entertainment, because that is all they really want: to be entertained. Well, ignoring Africa has brought Ebola to our shores, though I doubt that this will be the wake-up call epidemiologists hope for. Once it is contained months from now, Americans will forget all about the pandemic until the next one ravages the world.
In the meantime, what we’re observing is American stupidity at its finest. In Mississippi, a group of parents withdrew their children from a school when they learned that the principal had recently traveled to Zambia, a country in central Africa that is far from the areas where Ebola is raging. Such ignorance ought to convince school officials that there is no more ideal moment than now to educate children (and, sadly, their parents) about Africa. Teach Americans that they ought to have some compassion for people who are different than they are. I doubt if this will be undertaken by many school systems. People are comfortable with the one-country concept for Africa and their many stereotypes about African people. Don’t rock the boat with complexities.
One person in America has died from the disease and he acquired in Africa. If Americans want something to worry about, let them forget Ebola and think seriously about guns. How many Americans died from gunshots last week or even the day Thomas Duncan died? That is the kind of question that needs to be asked. Children are dying weekly from bullets. Americans are much more likely to die from gunshots than from Ebola. Even if there are additional cases and deaths from Ebola in the United States, they will pale in the face of the next gun rampage at an American school or mall. Or any number of other potential disasters that we ought to take seriously.
So let’s go back to what really bothers us. President Obama brought Ebola to the United States. He’s obviously immune to the disease, but the rest of us (particularly if we’re white) had better watch out. Vote Republican!
Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C.