As of Thursday morning, there is only one person undergoing treatment for Ebola in the United States, and only two people have contracted the disease in the U.S., both of whom are healthcare workers who survived.
But the U.S.’s success in fighting the disease at home has not stopped Republican politicians and their allies in the conservative media from turning it into a political issue, warning of an impending massive Ebola outbreak in the U.S. and declaring that when that happens it will be all President Obama’s fault.
Here are five of the most common conspiracy theories that conservative commentators and their Republican allies are pushing about Ebola:
1. Obama Will Bring Ebola To The U.S. Through The Southern Border
Never mind the fact that the countries hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak are all in Africa. Or that there hasn’t been a single case of Ebola in Latin America, let alone among migrants crossing the southern border. Republican politicians aren’t going to waste a good opportunity to gin up vague, unfounded xenophobic fears by claiming that people infected with Ebola are about to cross the southern border. (That is, if they haven’t already!)
Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., said in July that he had heard “reports” of undocumented immigrants infected with the Ebola virus coming into the U.S. through the southern border. When asked about these “reports” by journalists, Gingrey admitted that they did not actually exist. Indiana GOP Rep. Todd Rokita similarly warned that undocumented minors from Central America could represent a threat “from a public-health standpoint, with Ebola circulating and everything else.”
This month, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., warned conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck about the prospect of the Ebola virus jumping the southern border, and in another interview speculated that Obama’s policies may cause thousands of U.S. troops to contract Ebola.
Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, said his plan to deal with Ebola is “to seal the border and secure it,” while Sen. Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican locked in a tight re-election race, cited Ebola as a major reason why “we have to secure the border and we cannot have amnesty.”
Mike Huckabee warned his Fox News audience that people with Ebola will begin to fly from West Africa to Mexico in order to sneak into the U.S.: “If someone with Ebola really wants to come to the U.S., just get to Mexico and walk right in."
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who is now running for Senate in New Hampshire, said that America’s “porous” southern border will let people with Ebola just “walk across it.” He later claimed that “if Mitt [Romney] was the president right now,” then he could “guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now.”
2. Obama Will Bring Ebola To The U.S . In Order To Impose Martial Law
Naturally, the White House “orchestrated” the Ebola epidemic in West Africa to justify its Big Government agenda, according to several conservative commentators and at least one actual member of Congress.
Rep. Steve Stockman, Republican of Texas, said this month that Obama has laid the groundwork to use “emergency powers to take over control of the economy and everything” and speculated that the president might intentionally slow the government response to Ebola in order to create a crisis situation that he could then exploit:
Their terminology is there’s always a crisis which they want to use to their benefit, I would not be surprised that the reason that you see a lack of response is so that it becomes a real crisis and things can be used to correct the crisis, you know. It’s just bizarre there’s not enough action up front and I’m wondering if that’s — I’m not saying this — but I’m wondering if that’s intentional in order to create a greater crisis to use it as a blunt force to say, well in order to solve this crisis we’re going to have to take control of the economy and individuals and so forth. I don’t know. It’s just a strange non-response, a strange way of handling it and I think that if it does go forward and we do not control it, there may be an overreaction where the government starts taking away the rights of those that aren’t that necessarily involved or need that to happen. I hope that’s not that case but as you know this current government uses crisis to advance their philosophy and their agenda.
Laurie Roth, a conservative talk show host, predicted that Obama would “create a guise to declare martial law due to created outbreaks” and introduce a fake Ebola vaccine that would “act as a tracker.”
The conspiracy theorists of WorldNetDaily are sounding similar themes.
Erik Rush, a columnist for the conservative media outlet, wondered if Obama administration officials actually “want Ebola to spread in the United States,” creating a crisis “orchestrated by the White House in order to ultimately ‘legitimize’ a declaration of martial law in America.”
Mychal Massie also took to WorldNetDaily to suggest that Obama will manufacture an Ebola crisis in order to achieve his goal of cancelling the 2016 elections and staying in office indefinitely.
WorldNetDaily’s Morgan Brittany claimed that the government is showing “no urgency to stop the disease from entering the U.S.,” which she said betrays the administration’s intention to make use of its non-existent FEMA coffins, declare martial law and seize guns.
“Questions were then brought up about the stockpiling of ammunition and weapons by Homeland Security over the past couple of years and the $1 billion worth of disposable FEMA coffins supposedly stored in Georgia. Why was there preparation being made for FEMA camps to house people in isolation?” Brittany wondered. “My fear is that this has all been orchestrated from the very beginning. Who knows? Maybe the current administration needs this to happen so martial law can be declared, guns can be seized and the populace can be controlled. Once that happens … game over.”
3. Obama Will Bring Ebola Outbreak To The U.S. To Help His ‘African Brothers’
Conservatives frequently insist that none of their criticism of Obama has anything to do with race, and more than a handful have claimed that the president’s handling of the Ebola outbreak proves that he is the real racist.
Conservative columnist and Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman cited Obama’s response to the Ebola outbreak as proof that he favors “his African brothers, putting the interests of fellow blacks, with whom he feels a kinship, ahead of others.”
“Obama has favored his African brothers over the rest of us by allowing them free entry into this country,” Klayman wrote in another column. “As a result, Ebola has now been introduced into the United States, may be on the verge of spreading rapidly, with the end result being potential massive death to our citizenry.”
“Regrettably our Muslim commander in chief has favored his own creed over the rest of us,” he added.
Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly also claimed that Obama is “letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people” in order to make the U.S. more like Africa.
“Obama doesn’t want America to believe that we’re exceptional,” she wrote. “He wants us to be just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”
Rush Limbaugh argued that “leftist” elected officials believe that Ebola “is ultimately traced back to us; because of our slavery, we kind of deserve a little bit of this.”
Not to be outdone, Laura Ingraham maintained that Obama’s “familial connection to Africa” and “core ties to the African continent” are shaping the president’s response to Ebola to the detriment to the U.S.
4. Obama Will Bring Ebola Outbreak To The U.S. Because He Hates America
Public health experts have consistently said that knee-jerk reactions like stopping travel from West Africa and quarantining healthcare workers will do nothing to lessen the Ebola risk in America (and may in fact make it worse), and that the best way for the United States to protect itself from the disease is to help fight it at its source in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
But we all know not to trust scientists!
Republican politicians and conservative commentators have expressed outrage that President Obama has put resources into fighting Ebola in West Africa and is ignoring their calls for counterproductive flight bans and quarantines. They remind us that the president is, after all, an anti-American radical so everything he does should be held in suspicion.
Fox News commentator Keith Ablow speculated this month that “the president may literally believe we should suffer along with less fortunate nations,” arguing that Obama wants Americans to experience an Ebola epidemic out of a sense of “fairness” since he thinks the American people have “been a scourge on the face of the Earth.”
“We don’t have a president who has the American people as his primary interest,” Ablow said. “We’re not even voting for somebody who likes us. This guy, who has names very similar to two of our archenemies, Osama, well, Obama. And Hussein. Hussein.”
The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer said recently that he was just asking the question whether Obama wants to “punish” America with Ebola: “It looks like he actually wants Ebola to come to the United States. Why would he want that? Well, remember President Obama thinks that this country is racist to its core, it’s been racist since the beginning, it’s an evil, colonial force that’s been the root of all kinds of evil all around the world, it needs to be punished, it needs to be brought down to size, it needs to be disciplined.”
Conservative talk show host Michael Savage suggested that Obama “wants to infect the nation with Ebola,” insisting that Obama’s handling of Ebola “rises to levels of treason, it actually exceeds any level of treason I’ve ever season.”
“Obama wants equality and he wants fairness and it’s only fair that America have a nice epidemic or two or three or four in order to really feel what it’s like to be in the Third World. You have to look at it from the point of view of a leftist,” he added.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, also posited that Obama and other Democratic officials say “don’t quarantine, let’s don’t close our borders” because they “feel like we want everyone to feel included” and “don’t want anybody to feel like they’re being left out.”
Glenn Beck speculated that Obama may be allowing the disease to take hold in conservative parts of the country, telling Fox News host Bill O’Reilly earlier this month that the president was ignoring the cases of two nurses who contracted Ebola in Dallas, perhaps because the city “doesn’t particularly care for the president.”
If this were happening in Washington, D.C., right now, do you think the President and his administration would be acting like this? Do you think the Congress would be acting like this? This is happening in Dallas, Texas, this is a top-ten city in the United States of America. Happens to be one that doesn’t particularly care for the president all that much and his policies, one that the president has not been too favorable on. We are already being squeezed on our southern border, now we’re being squeezed by Ebola. Is there an agenda here? Is that possibly the reason, because I can’t figure out any other reason.
5. Ebola Is God’s Judgment On America (Especially Obama)
Of course, several Religious Right figures are responding to the Ebola epidemic by suggesting that it is divine punishment on America.
The televangelist John Hagee said this month that Ebola is a sign of God’s disapproval of Obama’s foreign policy in the Mideast.
“Our president is dead-set on dividing Jerusalem. God is watching and he will bring America into judgment,” he said, and as a result “we are now experiencing the crisis of Ebola.”
Ron Baity, a North Carolina pastor who worked with the Family Research Council and other anti-gay groups to pass a marriage equality ban, blamed Ebola on the gay community.
“We are bringing the judgment of God on this nation,” Baity said. “As sure as Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, don’t be surprised at the plagues, don’t be surprised at the judgment of God. You think Ebola is bad now? Just wait.”
“Trunews” host Rick Wiles also linked Ebola to homosexuality, but had a slightly different view. As Wiles explained, “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion.”