Sam Stein, Huffington Post’s political editor and White House correspondent, was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning and wanted to “take a crack at” explaining why the White House has been so opposed to instituting a travel ban on countries currently ravaged by Ebola. His rationale for opposing it– sure, it might make Americans safer, but it could make things in Africa worse.
Host Joe Scarborough asked, “I just want somebody to give me a logical reason why we don’t severely limit people from these countries,” to which Stein replied, “Can I take a crack?”
Stein then went on to explain that:
The nexus of the problem with Ebola is not in America, it’s in West Africa. And until you get the situation in West Africa under control we will never be actually out of the woods with respect to Ebola. So when you look at a travel ban you have to look at it holistically. What does it mean not just for America but for West Africa? Basically. every health official — maybe with a few exceptions — has said that if you do a travel ban it may, in fact, help America but it will make the situation in West Africa a whole lot more complex and a whole lot worse. People will panic.
After a brief interruption, he continued:
If you do a travel ban in that country people in that country will panic. There will be political panic, there will be social panic. In addition, people in that country will still try to get out of that country even though there’s a travel ban. You can’t prevent them from trying to get out of the country even if do you have a travel ban. Then it becomes a question of OK, let’s say somebody with Ebola did try to get out of that country and they did go to Europe and yeah we stopped them in Europe from going to the United States. We still then have to trace who their contacts were up to that point and if you have a travel ban, if they were going underground it becomes a lot harder to trace their contacts. So yes, you might help the situation in America but the situation in West Africa is exacerbated and made worse. That’s the point.
The first priority of the president and Congress is the safety of the country and the American people.
MSNBC has been a leader in dismissing the idea of a travel ban, advancing the idea that it would be a racist overreaction to the Ebola epidemic.
Reaction from conservatives on Twitter has been drawing a contrast between how MSNBC and the rest of the media covers other stories of potential future doom and the spread of Ebola.
Panic b/c the East Coast is going to disappear under the Atlantic in decades, say people opposed to travel restrictions with West Africa.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) October 17, 2014
Many of the same people who are yelling, “Stop panicking about Ebola!” were convinced a lane closure in NJ was the scandal of the century
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) October 16, 2014
The midterm elections will be held on Nov. 4.