January 28, 2015

OP-ED Final

Op-Ed rough draft

January 25, 2015

“Aren’t you afraid of getting Ebola?” Almost everybody I told about my upcoming trip to Morocco was asking this very question. People were shocked and wore looks of worry and confusion as if I was taking an extreme and unnecessary risk. For me, this panic seemed a bit extreme. Yes, I was heading to Africa where the Ebola epidemic was located, but Morocco did not have a single case of this disease and it is far away from the infected region.

Unfortunately, my Ebola grievances did not end here. The day before flying home from Morocco, where unsurprisingly I did not contract Ebola, I had a bad tagine and, to put it lightly, began to experience some unpleasant stomach pains. The flight attendants seemed certain that I had Ebola and continued to ask me if I was experiencing a fever or any other Ebola-like symptoms. This questioning ended with them asking if I would rather get off the plane, to which I politely declined. While I understand the need to be cautious, I think there is a fine line between rational and irrational fear.

The Ebola-caused hysteria that was engulfing America a few months ago, seemed to me to be crossing this line. During this time, it felt like every Ebola-related news article was calling for an increase in quarantines. From Oklahoma, where a teacher was placed into quarantine after a trip to Ebola-free Rwanda, to Meadowside Elementary in Connecticut, where are girl couldn’t go to school because she was Nigerian, it seemed as everybody was struck by this quarantine-craze (Blidner, pars. 1).

While many would argue that these types of measures are rational and a necessary precaution, I would disagree. The first thing everybody who disagrees with me should do is look at a map. The region infected by Ebola is less then two percent of the entire continent of Africa, which contains about twenty percent of the world’s land mass and is bigger then the US, Europe, Argentina, China, and India combined. The teacher who travelled to Rwanda was 2,846 kilometers away from the affected region, which is greater than the distance between New York and L.A. Therefore, quarantining the teacher is like if the French didn’t allow a New Yorker into Paris because of an outbreak of the swine Flu in Los Angeles. Would you call that being rationally cautious?

Now some may argue that even though the precautions may be extreme, it is better to be safe than sorry. The 69% of New Jerseyans who approved of Chris Christie quarantining aid worker, Kaci Hickox, would most likely agree with this (Murray, 2). But there is a reason why the CDC categorizes the risk of an outbreak as very low. The Ebola virus is not very contagious and can only be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids of an infected. This is problematic for Western Africa, which, for the most part, does not have a sanitation system, and thus there is no easy way to remove contaminated waste. The US, on the other hand, has a very sophisticated sanitation system, that makes it very unlikely that someone would ever come into contact with contaminated human feces.

Not only is the transmission rate low, but the US also has an immense amount of health care resources and capacity. One reason Ebola has been able to spread across Western Africa is because none of the countries infected have the resources to combat such a disease. They do not have the enough room in their hospitals, medical practitioners, nor safety garments to properly contain Ebola. Unlike West Africa, the US has the proper safety garments, a high number of medical practitioners, and the capacity to undergo extensive contact tracing. Thus, while Ebola was easily able to spread across West Africa, this would not be the same case in the US.

One reason that this hysteria is bad is that it endorses mistreatment of Africans and Ebola workers. There have been countless cases of Africans living in other countries who have been harassed due to their origin. In Pennsylvania, A high school soccer player from Africa was taunted by the opposing team who chanted “Ebola!” Other students around the country weren’t allowed to school because they were from Africa, even though many of them had not been to Africa within the last 6 months. The irrational fear that grips many Americans fosters this horrible mistreatment of Africans, which is both sad and harmful.

Not only does the irrational fear foster harassment in our society, it also hurts the ability of the international community to respond to the epidemic. People are less likely to volunteer after seeing how returning aid workers are harassed and poorly treated. Knowing how annoying it was to be held up at the airport in France, I cannot imagine the type of screening and harassment that the returning volunteers have to go through. This creates a deficit in number of aid workers, which makes it harder for the disease to be controlled. Thus, the irrational caution that many Americans believe in actually did not help contain the disease but rather only allowed it to grow further out of hand.

My biggest hope is that we learn from the Ebola crisis. Next time there is a international crisis, don’t get caught up in the media induced storm, read and understand the issue because your actions do have consequences.

Comment to Connell

January 21, 2015

Hi Connell,

This is a very interesting topic. I do not think that schools should have uniform but I feel like their are good arguments for both sides. I am really excited to read this article and maybe you’ll convert me.

Comment to Alle Tyler

January 21, 2015

I think your experience in primary and secondary education gives you a unique perspective and will make this Op-Ed really interesting to read. Do you know if other states are as conservative as Michigan in their stance on sexual education? Also, where are you hoping to publish your Op-Ed?

Op-Ed topic

January 21, 2015

I am planning to write about the reaction of the general populace toward the Ebola crisis in Western Africa. The reason I chose this topic was because I took a class last semester that studied in depth the health care systems in Africa and why it is hard for African countries to contain the spread of a disease. During this class we often looked at the rising Ebola Crisis and even had to write about what policies we thought should be implemented in order to stop this epidemic from growing further out of hand. One thing that kept on annoying me throughout the semester was how uninformed many Americans were about this issue. It seemed like every headline was about either a harassment issue or someone calling for further quarantines. While the time when Ebola was a constant headline has passed, I still think the issue is important and provides many key insights not only into the health care system in Africa but also into the mentality of developed countries. In this Op-Ed I am going to argue that most people’s reactions were completely irrational and this not only reflected poorly on the developed world but also hurt our ability to respond to the growing crisis. I am going to submit my Op-Ed to the New York Times because I think this issue pertains to all Americans, not just my hometown of Minnetonka, Minnesota.

Why Should We Care?

January 14, 2015

I think Will Lowery did the best job at answering the question, “why should we care?” One reason he did a good job was because he was able to skillfully move the reader from his childhood experience to an overarching theme.   Not only is Lowery discussing a theme that is important to the lives of many, he also plainly answers the question “why should we care” when he states that, “although these questions may seem of concern to few, they should in fact concern anyone who cares about education.” By writing this, Lowery leaves nothing up to the interpretation of the reader.  I think this is really effective because sometimes a reader will fail to make the connection to how a subject concerns him/her.  Also, after reading how this topic affected me, I felt more connected and invested in the essay. In sum, Lowery did a great job in making his paper relevant to the reader.

The Truth about Torture

January 11, 2015

In this article Krauthammer is discussing his take on torture and the amendment proposed by John McCain that would make inhumane treatment of prisoners illegal.  Krauthammer first divides war prisoners into three categories: soldiers, terrorists, and terrorists with information.  In the case of soldiers, Krauthammer agrees with McCain that they are should not be tortured.  He believes that soldiers are legitimate fighters who have not done anything illegal and the only purpose for their detainment is to prevent them from rejoining the war.

Krauthammer takes a difference stance on terrorists because he sees them as unlawful combatants who attack and kill innocent civilians. For this reason, Krauthammer believes that they deserve to be tortured but we shouldn’t because the U.S. civilized and should not act upon revenge.

The final category is the crutch of Krauthammer’s argument.  First he gives a scenario where torturing a terrorist would save the lives of thousands of innocent people.  Using this hypothetical situation, Krauthammer concludes that torture should not only be used in this situation but also that it would be morally wrong to not torture the terrorist.  Thus, he argues that McCain’s amendment should not pass because it does not take into factor the idea that there are certain situations where torture is just.

After arguing why torture is not always immoral, Krauthammer next goes into detail about the type of torture that should be allowed.  He categorizes terrorists with information into two subgroups: the ticking time bomb and a high-level terrorist.  For both of these groups he believes that torture should be permitted, but only after receiving written permission from a cabinet level authority.

Putting in my oar

January 8, 2015

My experience of writing academic papers is very similar to the analogy of a party that Kenneth Burke writes about in The Philosophy of Literary Form. The first step in the writing process is receiving a prompt that always relates to a debated issue.  The act of learning about this issue and different opinions is very much like walking into a party late and trying to jump into a conversation.  The writing process finally begins once I feel knowledgeable about the subject and have developed my own opinion. This is the moment in which I’m putting in my own oar, my own spin on the topic.

Hello world!

January 8, 2015

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