Representative Phil Gingrey wrote a letter to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, sharing a dire portent that I’m sure nobody at the CDC ever thought of before Gingrey put pen to paper: some of the child refugees streaming across the border into the United States might be carrying deadly diseases.
Please, please, withhold your applause at our astute representative’s remarks, because what comes next shows just how far you get on an ACE education — that is, just how far you can go knowing so little about everything (bolding mine):
Reports of illegal immigrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning. Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles.
Ebola, you say? Why not throw Smallpox and Renderpest in there, since we’re making things up as we go along for scare value? Kids in Texas are more at risk for many of these diseases than kinds from Honduras.
Gingrey’s analysis carries an aura of credibility among conservatives who can’t read a map because, as Judicial Watch noted, the congressman is “also [a] medical doctor.” That doesn’t change the fact that his letter is filled with base charges. For starters, Ebola is in Africa, not Central America, and I assure you, congressman, even though brown kids come from both places, they are two decidedly different locations:
According to the World Health Organization, Ebola virus has only ever affected humans in sub-Saharan Africa. (It has been found in China and the Philippines, but has never caused an illness, let alone a fatality.) Central America is far away from sub-Saharan Africa.
Ebola has a 50 percent mortality rate and a remarkably short life-span, so it’s safe to assume that if it had somehow made its way across the Atlantic to our own hemisphere, we would’ve heard it by now; some congressman probably would’ve sent a letter. But apparently Ebola fearmongering can travel across the Atlantic even if the disease can’t: A similar allegation was leveled in Italy last spring, with activists warning that migrants from Guinea were bringing Ebola with them to the peninsula. (Although false, the claim was at least more plausible: There is an Ebola outbreak in Guinea.)
Gingrey’s misdiagnoses aren’t confined to Ebola. As the Texas Observer points out, when it comes to measles, children in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are more likely to be vaccinated than children in the United States. None of those countries have recorded an outbreak of measles in 24 years. Kids in Marin County are more at risk.
Alas, if only it ended there, we’d be able to chalk this up to typical Republican fearmongering. But it doesn’t just end there.
I’ve contended in the past that the Republicans only care about public health when immigrants are involved. If not for the immigrants, they wouldn’t care about public health at all. Finally, I have (more) evidence for my allegations:
Gingrey has long-standing ties to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a far-right medical group that opposes all mandatory vaccines. The organization touts access to Gingrey as one of its membership perks. (The AAPS has, incidentally, taken the lead in pushing the idea that migrant children are disease carriers.) In 2007, he wrote an amendment that would allow parents to block their children from receiving HPV vaccines, which are designed to combat cervical cancer.
That’s right: a movement that’s pushing immigrant children are a danger to public health is a danger to public health itself. You measure this level of irony, folks. The cognitive dissonance should’ve blown apart Gingrey’s mind, if he had one, a long time ago.
h/t Mother Jones