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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

This Ebola panic is getting worse and I am starting to become more concerned with the situation surrounding Ebola than I am with the disease itself. I am old enough to remember when AIDS first hit the United States and created an initial panic. The gay community was unfairly alienated and wild rumors about AIDS started to consume the public.

I remember news anchors, the professionals that Americans were supposed to trust for the latest information (this was back in the days before the 24-hour news media perverted the truth), saying that people should be concerned about shaking hands with someone who had AIDS, touching a doorknob that was recently touched by someone with AIDS or even being in the same room as someone with AIDS. Sound familiar?

AIDS still has a stigma because any fatal disease should have some sort of stigma attached to it. But these days, people are a little more educated about the disease and reality has finally started to settle in. It only took a couple of decades before people finally realized that the government was indeed telling the truth about AIDS.

What does this have to do with Ebola? Ebola is transmitted in the exact same way that AIDS is transmitted. When AIDS was first reported in the United States, there was a lingering fear that it was airborne. AIDS is not, and never was, airborne. Sound familiar?

The big difference between this Ebola thing and AIDS is that people were actually dying from AIDS and it was concerning for everyone. After a while, the government isolated the ways that AIDS could be spread, smart people started to take precautions and the surge of cases started to slow down. We are still battling AIDS, but we battle AIDS with a much more rational mindset and we are seeing some success against the disease.

One person has died from Ebola in the United States. That person was not even an American citizen. The one American citizen who did have Ebola has been cured. There are only two other confirmed American cases of Ebola right now and both of those patients are doing well. That is four people in the United States out of 300,000,000. Anyone in panic mode in the United States over Ebola should be embarrassed. But yet the need for tinfoil helmets and a really big bed for everyone to hide under continues to rise dramatically.

What people should be doing is getting real medical information supplied by real medical sources, reading that information and then following what it has to say. But here is the problem. That information is coming from the government and the notion that the government is lying to us has never been stronger in the history of our country than it is now.

Listen to me everyone. The government is lying to you about a lot of things. The government lies to you every day. But when it comes to Ebola, the government is not lying to you. The government is actually giving you good information to use to stay safe and healthy.

When the government says that everyone is not going to die and that Ebola is difficult to catch (which it is), everyone instantly thinks the government is lying. What people want to hear is that we are all going to die and there is nothing that can be done to help. So that is what the media is telling people, and the media’s version of Ebola is being taken as the truth, while the truth is being called a lie.

Mark my words – the media panic being caused by the Ebola coverage will kill more people in the United States than Ebola itself. When people start rioting and doing stupid things because they believe the media and refuse to believe the government, then people will start dying.

To be fair, the government did this to itself. When President Obama said that we could keep our doctors and our health plans if we wanted, and then we found out we could not, then that was just another plank in the fence being put up between the government and the people.

The government is also far from perfect, so we should scrutinize the information the government offers. That means seeking out advice from reliable sources such as the Mayo Clinic or Columbia University.

On the other hand, the rampant irresponsibility of the media in an attempt to cash in on the lack of trust in the government is disgusting and irresponsible. If you check around, you can find videos and instances of media people urging their colleagues to stop causing an Ebola panic. Even Shepard Smith of Fox News told a Fox correspondent to stop spreading unnecessary fear. Then Smith begged Fox to stop feeding the panic. When someone at Fox News thinks that the media is out of hand, then the media is out of hand.

So now what? Well, now we rational people just have to keep listening to the millions of doomsday prophets who are insisting that we are all going to die until this thing starts to cool off. When will that happen? When the number of cases of Ebola in the United States suddenly stops.

But even then, people will believe that the government is hiding Ebola patients and lying to the public. Why will the people believe that? Because that is what the media will tell them.

Be smart about Ebola and protect yourselves. But, for God’s sake, stop panicking before someone really gets hurt.

Nick Oliver is a Niagara County resident who does not have Ebola, and neither do you. His column appears every Wednesday and he is hoping that it causes people to be rational before it is too late.

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