Yesterday, while attacking the “LameStream Media,” praising his “pupil” Steve Bannon and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and seemingly gloating about the robbery of Representative Elijah Cummings’s house, Donald Trump—the president of the United States—also took a moment to retweet a kind note about Kent Brantly, a doctor who was evacuated back to the United States five years ago after contracting Ebola while fighting the record-breaking West African epidemic. On the surface, it was one of the more innocuous things the president did in the past 24 hours. But for those who remember the reaction to the West African outbreak, and Trump’s part in it, this small act was one of gross hypocrisy.
To recap, from 2014 to 2016, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone experienced the largest Ebola epidemic of all time, infecting more than 28,000 people and killing more than 11,000. Many American health workers flew to the affected countries to help. Two of them—Brantly and the nurse Nancy Writebol—became infected themselves in July 2015, and were airlifted back from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Both recovered. But their arrival sparked fear, especially among those who believed Ebola to be a super-contagious virus that would rapidly spread through the country. In reality, Ebola’s symptoms are milder than the liquefying organs and extreme hemorrhaging of lore, and it only spreads with difficulty, through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients. But such facts evaporated amid the flames of widespread panic. And no single person fanned those flames with more enthusiasm than Trump.