The Ebola scare is no longer a thing happening somewhere else. It’s now a viable threat infecting Americans stateside, and politicians are drafting enforceable policies on how to stop the spread of the disease. Discrimination, I’m afraid, is inevitable.
This time, however, there is nothing superficial about the issue. Skin color, whether or not someone has an accent or chooses to sleep with someone of the same gender, none of these traditional dimensions of diversity are relevant. I would argue they are actually more irrelevant than ever when placed beside this latest discriminatory trend: the Ebola quarantine.
At a basic level it’s discrimination for life. Quarantined nurse Kaci Hickox might argue her basic human rights have been violated, but one part of me can’t help but think: given how little medical knowledge we have on how to contain or fight this disease why would you argue when being temporarily isolated might save someone else’s life?
But another part of me feels very Salem witch trials about all this. I know that whenever fear is a prominent part of the equation, bad things happen to minorities. That same lack of knowledge about the disease may exceed our care of and concern for the afflicted.
It’s scary to think that if we lose sight of our humanity, if we lose sight of our basic rights as people, our fear for our lives could conceivably lead to struggles for political power. We may actually end up enslaving people for their own good and the good of the populace at large. That’s a little dramatic – a little – but at the end of the day it could come to that. We’ll have to see what develops.