The Ebola story has temporarily drifted away from Obama’s bull-headed refusal to close the American border to flights origination in West Africa and, instead, focused on a doctor and a nurse. The doctor is Craig Spencer, who came back from volunteer work in West Africa and carried the Ebola virus all over New York. The nurse is Kaci Hickox, who has been fighting a quarantine imposed against her upon her return from volunteer work in West Africa. Spencer’s and Hickox’s stories reflect three very strong trends that emanated from the Left and that now dominate much of American culture: a sense of entitlement, demands for accommodation, and the arrogance of Prius syndrome. Underlying all three of those trends is the Leftists’ belief that, to the extent their actions may have a downside, those downsides should not be imposed upon them, but should be redistributed throughout society.
Please bear with me as I explain each of these societal syndromes, so that I can intelligibly apply them to Spencer, Hickox, and to Barack Obama as well.
Often, when we speak of “entitlements” we’re talking about demands for government money: For example, in America, welfare isn’t a form of charity that sees the rich give extra money to the government, which then functions in a managerial role, distributing funds to the needy. Instead, welfare is something that the middle class and rich owe to other people, thereby giving the government the right to strong-arm that money through an increasingly corrupt taxation process.
I’m not using the word “entitlement” in quite that technical, bureaucratic, Leftist political sense. Instead, I’m thinking of all those Gen Xers, Yers, Zers, and Millennials, all of whom think that the world owes them. If you want the poster child for this entitled attitude, Lena Dunham may well be it. In her own biography, she describes a lifestyle of obscene material wealth that came paired with a parenting style that gave her everything but discipline, self-awareness, compassion, and responsibility:
Lena Dunham is fond of lists. Here is a list of things in Lena Dunham’s life that do not strike Lena Dunham as being unusual: growing up in a $6.25 million Tribeca apartment; attending a selection of elite private schools; renting a home in Hollywood Hills well before having anything quite resembling a job and complaining that the home is insufficiently “chic”; the habitual education of the men in her family at Andover; the services of a string of foreign nannies; being referred to a homework therapist when she refused to do her homework and being referred to a relationship therapist when she fought with her mother; constant visits to homeopathic doctors, and visits to child psychologists three times a week; having a summer home on a lake in Connecticut, and complaining about it; writing a “voice of her generation” memoir in which ordinary life events among members of her generation, such as making student-loan payments or worrying about the rent or health insurance, never come up; making casual trips to Malibu; her grandparents’ having taken seven-week trips to Europe during her mother’s childhood; spending a summer at a camp at which the costs can total almost as much as the median American family’s annual rent; being histrionically miserable at said camp and demanding to be brought home early; demanding to be sent back to the same expensive camp the next year.
Despite her exceptionally privileged upbringing — if one defines “privilege” to mean excessive wealth — Dunham is very sure that the world owes her something, no matter how perverse and selfish her demands may be.
Dunham’s entitled attitude is spread throughout America’s more prestigious college campuses. I certainly don’t mean to malign all college students, but the evidence of the Occupy Wall Street protests cannot be ignored: She is part of a cadre of upper class American young people who feel entitled to everything, provided that someone else pays. Denying themselves things or working hard to be able to pay for things simply isn’t a part of their practical or moral lexicon. In their minds, everything is theirs for the demanding, because their education — simultaneously privileged and Leftist — has imbued them with a moral compass that cannot be questioned.
This sense of entitlement isn’t limited, of course, to America’s young elite. It’s also very prevalent amongst the Leftist’s anointed victim classes: women, gays, and Muslims. Women are entitled to have paychecks identical to men’s, regardless of the fact that they work fewer hours, have less training, or demand more flexibility in their workplace and work hours. Women are also entitled to have jobs identical to men’s, without regard to the fact that women’s smaller build and lesser musculature means that the standards for those jobs have to be lowered — and to hell with the risk that lowering standards for cops, firefighters, Marines, etc., imposes on fellow cops, firefighters, Marines, etc., or on the public.
Who cares that those petite female firefighters who got on the force only because of lowered standards are incapable of carrying people out of a burning building? Those people would undoubtedly have died happy knowing that their lives were sacrificed on the altar of complete gender equality. (I covered the “size matters” issue at greater length here.)
America’s gays and Muslim’s are also exceptionally entitled and their sense of entitlement leads me to the second strand in the Ebola story, which is the insistence that the mainstream majority must yield to the demands of the entitled. Gays are entitled to force religious Christians (who are following a moral and doctrinal tradition that was unquestioned for all of mankind, right up until about 5 years ago) to perform or otherwise participate in gay marriage ceremonies. Meanwhile, Muslim’s insist that they have a right to refuse to handle pork products despite working in a grocery store or to be one clerk wearing a headscarf in Abercrombie, a store notorious for using nearly-naked sex as its primary sales pitch. Now, I’m not defending Abercrombie, which I think is an awful place, but I am defending Abercrombie’s right to be awful — and not to be bullied by a religious into hiring people totally at odds with its marketing ethos.
Put another way, up until this current generation of entitled people, what minorities sought was the right to be left alone. Conservative Jews wouldn’t make you hang mezuzot in every doorway in New York provided that you didn’t prevent them from nailing those same mezuzot to their own doorways. Likewise, an Orthodox Jewish woman wouldn’t demand that all the teachers at her private school wear wigs, provided that you allowed her to wear hers. And if you insisted she give up a wig, rather than suing you, she’d seek a place more accommodating of her beliefs. That Jewish woman understood that part of being left alone in order to practice ones religion freely was to keep the state away from her. Letting the state get involved in your religious practices is letting that camel’s nose in the tent — the inevitable result of that first intrusion, even by invitation, is that the rest is damn sure to follow, and with very destructive effects too.
Those people who feel entitled and demand accommodation are not a very pretty sight. Despite clothing their demands in the rhetoric of civil rights, they’re actually terribly spoiled people who insist upon using the weight of the government to force a nation of 300 million souls to bow down before them. The thing that best illustrates this arrogance, and the accompanying disdain for less “enlightened” Americans, oozes out in something called Prius syndrome.
I have nothing against the Toyota Prius. It’s a snappy, well-designed little car that gets good fuel mileage. It’s also small and, at least when introduced, pricey, making it an unacceptable car for large families (which are so un-green, what with overpopulating the planet and everything); ranchers (so un-green with their flatulent cattle); farmers (so un-green, with their demands for water); and ordinary middle Americans with little money and long commutes so that they can manage to bring that small paycheck home (so un-green to have a long commute).
(For more on my sense that the whole electric and hybrid car scene is an appalling transfer of wealth from working class to upper class, go here; for an admittedly old study indicating that the Prius manufacturing process is so un-green it ranks environmentally near the Hummer, go here. The point of the latter article is that a lot of so-called “green” products simply transfer the pollution away from where the entitled classes, so that their environment is free from smoke, exhaust fumes, and environmental destruction.)
It turns out that having the money and “greenness” to afford a Prius has created a new class of arrogant drivers, fully equally to those Beemer drivers we all complained about back in the 1980s. It’s not just these people boast at parties that “Oh, I drive a Prius.” Just as has long been true for those Beemer drivers, Prius drivers bring their arrogance and entitlement to the road. Rather than being simple, humble people of the earth, as one would think a super greenie would be, they’re instead arrogant lawbreakers:
And in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the status-symbol Prius was marked down as a luxury vehicle, researchers found their drivers to have a higher tendency to commit traffic infractions than most.
We shouldn’t be surprised, of course. This is what happens if you’ve proven to yourself that you’re a better human being than the person in the car next to you. It doesn’t matter that you’re a “Herstory” major, living on your parents dime, and driving the car Grandpa Moneybags gave you when you graduated from boarding school, while the person in the old Plymouth is a decorated Iraq vet who works two jobs to support his family. Because you’re special, you can cut that gas guzzler off on the freeway or hog two parking places. Serves him right for polluting!
And now I’ll keep my promise and return to Dr. Spencer and Nurse Hickox, with a dollop of Obama to ice this particularly noxious entitled, demanding, arrogant cake.
It’s important to remember that both Spencer and Hickox did something decent and brave: They went to tend the sick and dying in West Africa. That’s admirable. But then they had to go spoil it all with their entitlement, arrogance, and Prius syndrome. Because of what they did, both of these medical professionals (and remember, that’s a “caring” field) believe that the ordinary rules of conduct or biology should not apply to them. They’re entitled and we should yield.
In their own minds, both Spencer and Hickox are morally superior people who are entitled to do whatever the heck they want and it is our responsibility to accommodate them. They are the living paradigm of a conflation of these unbelievable selfish, demanding, greedy, anti-social Leftist infections in American society.
Even worse, Spencer and Hickox are not unique. President Obama, using the bully pulpit of the White House, agrees with them wholeheartedly. To Obama, it’s perfectly acceptable to force our military to go to Ebola-stricken regions and then to force those same military personnel into a lengthy and uncomfortable quarantine. As he sees it, they deserve that risk and suffering because they’re, well, military, and we know what Obama thinks of our troops. However, in Obama’s Leftist world view, the corollary is that it’s unfair to quarantine people who volunteered to go to West Africa because they’re just better people than the troops:
Obama responded [to a question about different quarantine standards for the military and volunteers by saying] that the military is in a different situation from that of civilian volunteers because (1) they are not treating patients, and (2) they are not there voluntarily. Does this make any sense? While our soldiers might not be treating patients, they are still in the hot zone and have the potential to be exposed to individuals who might be infected. The Pentagon understandably doesn’t want its soldiers to hop on a plane when finished and return to wherever they are stationed with the potential to spread a deadly disease to co-workers and families. But here’s where this gets really convoluted: those who are treating patients – the civilian volunteers – are at an even higher risk of contracting Ebola than anyone else (over 200 health care workers, including doctors and nurses, have died treating Ebola), yet Obama doesn’t see the need to quarantine them upon their return, even though logic dictates otherwise.
What is so infuriating, aside from his twisted logic, is that Obama suggests that civilian volunteers are the only courageous ones taking time from their families to use their expertise for a noble cause, as if our military volunteers do not have families they are leaving behind, using their expertise for an equally noble cause, and courageously walking headfirst into the fire:
When we have volunteers who are taking time out from their families, from their loved ones and so forth, to go over there because they have very particular expertise to tackle a very difficult job, we want to make sure that when they come back, that we are prudent, that we are making sure that they are not at risk themselves or at risk of spreading the disease. But we don’t want to do things that aren’t based on science and best practices because, if we do, then we’re just putting another barrier on somebody who’s already doing really important work on our behalf.
In The World According to Obama, it’s okay to put up a barrier for someone in the military who might have been exposed to Ebola-infected individuals, but not for a civilian volunteer who most definitely was treating and therefore unequivocally exposed to Ebola-infected patients. In Obama’s world, the civilian volunteer is “doing really important work on our behalf.” And what about the soldiers? What are they – chopped liver? Aren’t they working on our behalf, too?
It’s Obama’s mindset that has left us with the spectacle of Ebola-infected Dr. Spencer “self-isolating” by trolling all over New York (dinners, taxis, bowling), and then lying about that fact to officials when it was apparent he was the infectious carrier of a deadly disease and of Nurse Hickox who thinks it’s a singular insult that she should be quarantined because she’s so special that society as a whole must yield her certainty that she’s not sick with a disease, never mind that scientists still aren’t quite sure how the disease is transmitted, how long it can last on surfaces outside the body, and how long the incubation period is.
Quite simply, both Dr. Spencer and Nurse Hickox are better people and more deserving than the rest of you. You should be worshiping at their altar rather than whining about the fact that they’re doing their best to be vectors for a disease with a 25% morality rate under the best circumstances and a 70% mortality rate under the worst.