When the Black Death was raging in Elizabethan London, some terrified citizens sought to assuage the Plague. The Queen herself ordered that anyone leaving London would be hanged. As in times past, some offered penitence to God in the form of self-flagellation, but to no avail. The Plague continued to rage even as the flagellants beat themselves to a bloody pulp.
Some frightened but resolute groups resorted to boarding up houses inhabited by anyone who exhibited symptoms of the disease. Armed watchmen saw to it that no one could go in or out, regardless of how much those trapped inside begged for mercy. The victims were given bare sustenance by means of baskets filled with provisions, which were lowered through upper windows. If any unfortunates in the plague houses survived the quarantine, which was rare, they were eventually let out.
History repeats itself.
Apparently, a family exposed to Ebola is being quarantined in their home under armed guard. No one can enter and no one can exit until health officials are assured there is no danger of contagion. Despite the family’s strong objections to the loss of their liberty to freely roam about, the action is perhaps one of the first sensible precautions yet taken to quarantine the Ebola virus.
It’s about time scientific sensibilities rather than ideological purity takes the measure of a pestilence with the capacity to wipe out entire populations. Let’s hope the politically-correct response aimed at protecting the sensitivities of gays that characterized the first reactions to appearance of AIDS in the 1980s does not once again prevail. Let’s hope Ebola does not become the vanguard of a campaign conferring civil rights on a disease because any rigorous response to a deadly virus is considered racist by the likes of Louis Farrakhan. Let’s hope sane medical practices for limiting exposure and stopping the spread throughout the entire population are actually followed.
In brief, let’s hope ideological faith does not trump science.
How ironic incidents of faith trumping sound scientific and medical are repeating themselves.
The Left has long pointed to the idiocies of the past as reasons that faith means nothing and that religion gets everything wrong because it does not bow to science. The examples abound, be they Galileo’s discoveries disputed by the Church or ignorant pastors resisting the administration of chloroform ( “a decoy of Satan”) to women in labor because God had supposedly decreed women had to suffer in giving birth.
Even among the scientists themselves, horrendous disputes over orthodox practices resulted in deaths of innocent people. Louis Pasteur’s discoveries (1862) about the transmission of disease via invisible microbes were ignored by many doctors who continued to deliver babies with unwashed hands only to see women continue to die of childbed fever. Joseph Lister’s prescription for sanitizing the hospital and surgical environment was scorned because Leeuwenhoeck’s “wee little beasties” were still not regarded as a particularly potent threat centuries after he peered into his microscope, as Thomas Eakins’ “The Gross Clinic” illustrates. Today’s viewers of the painting are less inclined to admire the composition of the piece than they are to not the horribly unsanitary practices still in place as late as 1875.
“Terrible, terrible,” is what just about any liberal would say; adding that those poor deluded people should have listened to science.
But here we are again facing resistance to science because of prevailing ideology, but this time the onus is on the Left, whose paradigm of thought is now so tightly structured nothing considered alien to it, including proven science, can intrude. Contagion of thought is evidently considered worse than actual contagion.
Ironically, the Ebola scare in the U.S. is following the pattern outlined by Albert Camus in his novel The Plague. The first stage is denial:
Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise. In this respect our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences. […]Pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven't taken their precautions.
In other words, since pestilences were impossible, everyone went on with business as usual. After all, a pestilence would interfere with their freedom to live life as they saw fit.
Camus writes the second stage was the disseminating of “information” in order to keep the public calm: Read More here