Fear Is Good

By Roger Simon

October 22, 2014 5 min read

Can you get the light out of my eyes?


Can you loosen the handcuffs?


Why am I here?

You coughed. Coughing is a symptom of Ebola. We must protect the homeland.

But you can't lock up everybody who coughs.

Why not? We have room. There are a lot of empty Borders and Blockbuster stores and Chi-Chi's restaurants around. Besides, we are not locking you up. We are quarantining you — in handcuffs.

For how long?

Indefinitely — or at least until you give us a list of everybody you have ever come in contact with.

In my entire life?

That's a good starting point. Our records also indicate you have traveled to Texas in the past. Do you plan to do so in the future?

Would that be against the law?

Let's just say you are going to need a note from Gov. Perry to get in.

Rick Perry doesn't have anything better to do?

Actually, no.

I hate to be the one to tell you, but Ebola is so yesterday. The media are bored with it already. They are moving on.

The media are a lagging indicator about everything in American life. Ebola is not about the media. It is not even about disease. It is about creating fear for political purposes.

But you can't go around quarantining people for political purposes.

Yes, we can. Congress has made it legal during the Great U.S. Ebola Epidemic of 2014.

But there has been no Ebola epidemic in the United States in 2014.

You can thank us later. Our records also indicate you have traveled to Africa in your lifetime and currently know people of African ancestry. Do you have anything to say in your defense?

Africa is the second-largest continent on the planet. More than a billion people live there. Africans make up 15 percent of the global population, and African-Americans make up 13.1 percent of the U.S. population.

Hmm. We may need more handcuffs. In any case, we have some questions for you. First, have you ever eaten an infected bat?

I have never eaten a bat of any kind.

How do you know? Have you ever eaten a burger in a fast-food restaurant?

Of course.

Then how can you be sure you have never eaten a bat?

OK, I'll give you that one. Can you at least remove my leg irons?

No. A Carnival Cruise Lines ship was refused entry to Belize and Mexico recently because those countries were afraid a passenger had come in contact with Ebola. Have you ever traveled on a Carnival cruise?

Honestly, would you rather risk Ebola or risk a Carnival cruise?

Give us a minute to think.

I think you are fear-mongering.

Of course we are! Do you think it's an accident there is a national panic just a few weeks before midterm elections? With just three Ebola cases diagnosed in the entire nation, the Pentagon has ordered the creation of a 30-person Ebola quick response team. Within days! It usually takes the Pentagon four years to design an ashtray. But politics forced it to create an Ebola strike force overnight.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs admitted in April that delays in cancer screening for 76 veterans being treated in VA hospitals were linked to 23 deaths. What happened to quick response when it came to them?

Nobody was afraid of them. That's our whole point. Fear drives politics. Candidates for Congress are already campaigning on how the White House screwed up on Ebola. At the same time, President Obama is calling world leaders to help fight Ebola and looking presidential. Rand Paul says a temporary travel ban from some African countries would be "only reasonable," while his father, Ron Paul, opposes it, saying, "Right now, I would say a travel ban is politically motivated more than something done for medical purposes."


?Meaning Ron would rather be right and Rand would rather be president.

You are just proving that fear can be worse than disease. And disease can be exploited for politics.

But politics is about fear — the fear that one political party could actually be worse than another political party, which is highly unlikely.

Is this one of those satire things?

We certainly hope so.

Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist. His new e-book, "Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America," can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

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