October 7, 2014;International Business Times

We fully expect this level of Ebola hysteria from Donald Trump, who was fast out of the box suggesting that the two American missionaries who contracted Ebola should not have been allowed back into the U.S., but the International Business Times and other sources report that the former Republican leader of South Carolina, Todd Kincannon, has proposed that victims of Ebola be put down like sick pets, for their sake and for ours.

It is always a little troublesome to use one’s Twitter postings as a substitute for a coherent body of thought, but Kincannon’s tweets from the last couple of days add up to a theory of handling the Ebola epidemic that probably has more adherents than some readers might think. Here is a sampling of Kincannon’s Ebola tweets:



Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s possible that this is a fake Kincannon and someone has hijacked the name and identity of an unsuspecting Republican operative to distribute an amazing potpourri of Ebola hysteria. But like IBT, Salon also attributes the tweets to the former executive director and general counsel of the Republican Party.

Don’t think that Kincannon is alone. This sounds much like the initial hysteria around HIV/AIDS, with its concerns about getting the disease from toilet seats. But we’ve encountered generally knowledgeable people who don’t harbor the sentiments of Kincannon but do believe that flights to and from the major countries where the Ebola epidemic is active should be halted and that hospitals are spectacularly unprepared for the likelihood of Ebola diagnoses of Americans.

Unfortunately, the sometimes shrinking credibility of the Obama administration undermines confidence in the nation’s preparedness for the Ebola epidemic. The response in Dallas to the person from Liberia has been shockingly poor, both at the hospital that initially sent him away when he went there and at his partner’s apartment, where potentially infected materials remained for days until a hazmat crew was recruited and credentialed to do the disposal. At the national level, after leaders at the Centers for Disease Control suggested that airport screening was adequate, only now is the administration preparing to “ramp up” screening of arriving passengers. The administration’s recent track record concerning believable information on major problems hasn’t been confidence-inspiring, notably on Syria (dismissing, but now supporting the “Free Syrian Army), ISIL (dismissed as a “JV” sports team, but now elevated to a major international crisis), the VA scandal (initially supporting, then easing out Secretary Eric Shinseki), and the Secret Service (expressing confidence in the Secret Service director the day before she was escorted out of office).

If it is true that this outbreak of Ebola doesn’t warrant the hysteria of Donald Trump or Todd Kincannon, then an essential component of the response has to be serious, consistent information from the administration and from the nation’s health system on what can and should be done to control the spread of Ebola. Otherwise, the Ebola crisis will turn into a free-fall of xenophobia and racism that will make the hysteria that greeted HIV/AIDS look like a cakewalk.—Rick Cohen