BATON ROUGE, La. - A judge on Monday afternoon granted state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's request for a temporary restraining order to block the disposal of incinerated waste from the Dallas Ebola victim's personal items and belongings at a Louisiana landfill.According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Incineration or autoclaving as a waste treatment process is effective in eliminating viral infectivity." This was well understood at the time. Or, at least, it should have been by the State Attorney General charged with making informed decisions on such matters. But people were scared and Caldwell saw no reason to relieve them of their irrational fears and instead chose to play up to them on TV.
It has been reported that six truckloads of potential Ebola contaminated material collected from the apartment where the Dallas Ebola victim became ill were brought to Port Arthur, Texas on Friday to be processed at the Veolia Environmental Services incinerator. From there the incinerated material is slated to be transported to a hazardous waste landfill in Louisiana for final disposal.
Caldwell said the unknowns involved surrounding the Ebola virus have the state wanting to proceed with caution.
This episode is worth remembering today for two reasons. First, Buddy Caldwell is on the ballot this Saturday. But that's only important in order for you to understand, when we tell you his opponent is in fact far worse, just how low he sets that bar in the first place.
The other reason we bring this up is, as stupid and reckless Caldwell's ebola fearmongering was, it's nowhere near as stupid and reckless as what Bobby Jindal is doing today.
Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order Monday (Nov. 16) to prevent Syrian refugees from being resettled in Louisiana.As was noted yesterday by multiple news organizations, only 14 Syrian refugees have entered the US via Louisiana this year. More to the point, though, what is even the purpose of Jindal's knee-jerk exclusionary order? (Assuming, of course, that it is even practical which it is not.)
In issuing the order, Jindal referenced last week's terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people and injured hundreds more. The Islamic State group has claimed to be behind the attacks. Jindal said the introduction of Syrian refugees into the U.S. without "proper prior screening and follow-up monitoring could result in a threat to the citizens and property of this state."
Here is Juan Cole writing about the political fallout in France.
French politics has become deeply cynical, and the electorate has lost faith in its leaders. Many politicians will attempt to profit from this climate. Nicolas Sarkozy has already called for more drastic measures to be put in place. Some will also promise salvation by closing borders. They will call for a return to a mythical, good old peaceful France, overwriting the country’s history and its constant and violent flux between reaction and revolution.Of course, we are already falling for the xenophobic false narrative in the US. It's what we do.
To prevent such appropriations and long-term consequences, it is crucial not to jump to simplistic conclusions – as happened after 9/11, an event that has already been invoked many times.
This would be playing right into the hands of the terrorists themselves. A war of civilisations is the very fantasy IS and its ilk are trying to construct. They seek to enshrine divisions between an imagined “us” in the West, standing together for a loosely defined version of democracy, and “them”, attempting to appear a united force in an area torn apart by years of war.
Falling for this narrative would offer IS exactly the false image of unity it wants to propagate. It would also be a dangerous simplification of who ‘we’ are – at the expense of anyone who acts or thinks differently.
Anyway, Cole continues.
We can expect these irrational suspicions to appear again after these attacks. Every move made by Muslims in France, will be scrutinised. Some will also point to refugees – even as many are themselves fleeing IS.Again, the obvious point, we're talking about refugees fleeing from ISIS themselves. If we have already identified ISIS as the enemy, what is the purpose of turning our back on its victims? Would Senator Rubio have sent his own parents back to Castro's Cuba? He seems to say yes.
In the coming days, weeks and months, it will be crucial that we avoid lapsing into that fear. If we do, we will only summon more fear and paranoia, incur ever more stringent laws limiting liberties for all, and inflict more pain through discrimination and segregation on those already suffering from exclusion. All these things will in turn provide further recruitment propaganda for extremist groups.
Had Bobby Jindal been Governor of Louisiana under the Spanish dominion would he have turned away the first boatloads of Acadian immigrants seeking asylum from British terror? It so happens they're digging them up this week so if he wants to send them back, now is his chance.
Either case is every bit as absurd a notion as Buddy Caldwell's grand stand against the incinerated bedclothes of a corpse. But it's what our politics demands in 2015.
Not that this is anything novel. It's also what our politics would have demanded in 2003. Because nobody ever remembers anything that happens and nothing ever changes.