On Anderson Cooper 360 last week CNN’s Ebola expert David Quammen -- Yale grad, Rhodes scholar -- struck the perfect multicultural note. With the fury of a Puritan divine, he scolded those who want to ban commercial travel to West Africa. “How dare we turn our backs on Liberia,” said Quammen, “given the fact that this is a country that was founded in the 1820s, 1830s because of American slavery. We have a responsibility to stay connected to them and help them see this through.”
Quammen was merely saying out loud what the multiculturalists in the Obama administration, the president included, have been thinking: America has become rich by oppressing the people of color. We owe them, even at the cost of American dollars and American lives. In the empty-headed patois of the movement, we must “check our privilege.”
It is this, the logic of multiculturalism, that has dictated the White House response to the Ebola crisis. That logic, however, doesn’t fly with ordinary citizens. So the administration is forced to argue its case in any which way it can. Enter, stage left, the hapless Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention.
“On the issue of banning travel,” said Frieden at an October 13 press conference, “I understand that there are calls to do this. I really try to focus on the bottom line here. The bottom line here is reducing risk to Americans. The way we're going to reduce risk to Americans is do the steps of protection I just went through and stop it at the source in Africa.”
This bit of gibberish seemed to make at least some sense in every major newsroom in America save one. At Fox News, Bill O’Reilly called Frieden’s comments “stupid and irresponsible,” and in an interview Megyn Kelly challenged him aggressively. To Kelly’s question about the ban, Frieden responded in his cloying, Mr. Rogers-like way, “Above all do no harm.” He then repeated his mantra about stopping the disease at its source as piously as if he were talking to the faithful at MSNBC.
His platitudes weren’t working with Kelly. She pressed him about limiting travel to charter flights, and he could only respond, “Charter flights don’t do the same things commercial airlines do.” Said Kelly on point, “What do you mean? They fly in. They fly out.”
To understand how Frieden could come to play this role, it is useful to know something about his background. As he told the graduates of his alma mater, the uber progressive Oberlin College, in a 2012 commencement speech, his first job out of college was as “a community organizer for a health clinic.” Of note, he claims to have bicycled to that job in Tennessee from Oberlin in Ohio.
Like his boss and fellow community organizer Barack Obama, Frieden had secured a foothold among the multicultural elect. He would devote his career to the uplift of people’s bodies with all the zeal that our Puritan ancestors devoted to people’s souls. Frieden soon found just the place to do it, namely in the administration of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. There he would lead the crusade against tobacco, trans fats, Big Gulps, and the ignorant infidels who enjoyed them.
In his sycophantic book, The Promise, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter described Obama as a “product of the great American postwar meritocracy,” a president not afraid to surround himself with “extraordinarily smart men and women.” As director of the CDC, Frieden -- Oberlin, Columbia, Yale -- would become one of the smart people. “Our information is clear and correct,” Frieden insisted to Megyn Kelly in spite of all evidence to the contrary. His motives were too pure and his IQ too high for that information to be otherwise.
Multiculturalism, of course, has a flip side, a punitive side. While Frieden was playing benign front man, Jesse Jackson and his posse were bringing up the rear. “What role did [Thomas Duncan’s] lack of privilege play in the treatment he received?” said Jackson of the Liberian man who brought Ebola to America. “He is being treated as a criminal rather than as a patient.”
In truth, the multicultural faithful have less interest in celebrating the many colors of their rainbow than they do in condemning what cliché-monger Jackson called “those with privilege,” who, he noted, are “most often white people.” Whites like Quammen and Frieden have largely cleansed themselves of their original sin by checking their privilege and embracing multiculturalism. Once among the elect, they secure their place by imputing new sins to those who resist -- racism, of course, but also sexism, classism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and soon -- one suspects -- Ebolaphobia.
Although this two-front strategy has worked well to date in seducing and intimidating the “privileged,” it will not work with Ebola. Ordinary Americans may gripe about the bizarre byproducts of multiculturalism -- female fireman, transgendered soldiers, imprisoned anti-Islamic video makers -- but they will not rebel.
They will rebel, however, at a policy that threatens the lives of their soldiers and sailors, their nurses and doctors, their children and grandchildren. In Ebola, multiculturalism may have met its match.
Jack Cashill’s new book, “You Lie!: The Evasions, Omissions, Fabrications, Frauds, and Outright Falsehoods of Barack Obama,” http://amzn.to/1riUZgd is now on sale wherever you buy books.