blood simple

The National Review Online — which, despite all the similarities, is NOT the Onion — just published a classic Conservative editorial. By that I mean it’s almost completely devoid of fact and overstuffed with wrong-headed opinion fueled by free-floating anxiety and unfocused anger over a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s titled Kari Hickox, Selfish Hero.

Strictly monitored house quarantine — de facto house arrest — is undoubtedly an abrogation of civil liberties. But 21 days of it — lavishly state-funded — to be followed by perfect liberty assuming no problems, seems like a minimal sacrifice to ask of those who put themselves voluntarily in danger. When it comes to a disease that liquidates your internal organs and pushes blood out your eyeballs, “Better safe than sorry” would seem a dictum to which everyone could agree.

Where to start? Maybe with the fact that doctors and nurses have been volunteering to help in the West Africa Ebola outbreak since August (which is when the World Health Organization declared the epidemic to be an international public health emergency). Most of them did their volunteer work then quietly returned home to the U.S., where they went on with their lives. Without being quarantined. And they didn’t infect anybody.

kaci hickox

Or maybe with the fact that even if Kaci Hickox was infected with the Ebola virus, she wouldn’t be contagious until she became seriously symptomatic. Even if she developed the earliest symptoms — headache and fever — the risk of contagion would be extremely low. You’d have to lick the sweat off her forehead AND have a cut on your tongue before you’d be at risk (which shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement for licking Ebola patients).

But as stupid and offensive as the editorial is, the comments — well, you can guess. Stupid and offensive on steroids. For example:

Let’s be honest, anyone this self-centered went to Africa to prove how wonderful they are. Everything is about them.

This woman is a perfect example of the I, I, I, me, me, me, first person. She and her desires are more important than anyone else’s well being or health.

Every once in awhile you see a woman that makes you involuntarily think, “I pity the guy that marries her.”

She is a Democrat and an Obama supporter, whu [sic] works for the CDC. Yes, she is an Obama operative. She is challenging state governor’s on behalf of Obama. She speaks about science, just like the Obama people are doing. They are taking a superior position, backed by science, and everyone else is just hysterical. I do not know what Obama hopes to gain from this game, but it is a dangerous one.

Lawdy. It’s been three weeks or so since Eric Duncan died. That’s more than enough time for the American people to have educated themselves about Ebola. Three weeks. In three weeks you can teach a flatworm to follow a path in a maze. A fucking flatworm — a simple bilaterian, soft-bodied, unsegmented invertebrate. But can conservatives learn the actual level of risk involved in dealing with Ebola in that same period of time? No. Can elected officials learn the actual level of risk? No.

Why? Because they’ve gone blood simple. That’s a term coined by Dashiell Hammett in one of his early novels, Red Harvest. It describes the addled, irrational, conspiratorial, violent mindset of people who are exposed to long-term, escalating, chaotic fear.

“This damned burg’s getting me. If I don’t get away soon I’ll be going blood-simple like the natives.”

I know the feeling.

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3 thoughts on “blood simple

  1. I hope to high heaven I never succumb to that much more *real* threat of infection by fear, and go blood-simple “like the natives”. I can’t read the comments on any articles at all. They are poison.

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    • You’re right, they are a sort of poison. I read them anyway. It sometimes makes it difficult to stay positive and hopeful. But happily most of the people I know make impossible to be negative and hopeless. It offers a sort of immunity to the poison.

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      • LIke a little hair of the dog, or a flu vaccine, right? I’ll never have immunity to that stuff; it infects my brain and I can’t let it go. Those hate-filled comments have ruined more than one day for me.

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