Worst Argument Against the Ebola Travel Ban Ever?

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough has been advocating for a travel ban from Western Africa for over a week now, and he’s upset because he hasn’t been able to get a good answer to why there is no travel ban. Yet. Enter panelist Sam Stein of the Huffington Post. Stein tried his best to give Joe that “good” answer for not instituting a travel ban… but instead he just gave a “bad” answer.

Stein’s basic reason? The travel ban might be good for the USA, but it would be bad for West Africa. So we can’t do it.

Um. Last I checked Sam, our government was supposed to be about the business of protecting American citizens and American soil. If this is the reason no travel ban has yet been instituted, it’s a poor one, at best — at worst, a criminal one.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I’m not an expert in this area. I just want somebody to give me a logical reason why we don’t severely limit people from these countries. I am not advocating a quarantine —

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SAM STEIN: Can I take a crack?

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Sam’s going to take a crack at this.

SCARBOROUGH: I am just asking — okay take a crack Sam because you tried last week and you were wrong.

STEIN: The nexus of the problem with Ebola is not in America it’s in West Africa. And until you get the situation in West Africa under control we will never be actually out of the woods with respect to Ebola. So when you look at a travel ban you have to look at it holistically. What does it mean not just for America but for West Africa? Basically every health official–maybe with a few exceptions–has said that if you do a travel ban it may, in fact, help America but it will make the situation in West Africa a whole lot more complex and a whole lot worse. People will panic —


STEIN: Hold on, let me finish. If you do a travel ban in that country people in that country will panic. There will be political panic, there will be social panic. In addition people in that country will still try to get out of that country even though there’s a travel ban. You can’t prevent them from trying to get out of the country even if do you have a travel ban. Then it becomes a question of okay, let’s say somebody with Ebola did try to get out of that country and they did go to Europe and yeah we stopped them in Europe from going to the United States. We still then have to trace who their contacts were up to that point and if you have a travel ban, if they were going underground it becomes a lot harder to trace their contacts. So yes, you might help the situation in America but the situation in West Africa is exacerbated and made worse. That’s the point.

SCARBOROUGH: Sam, I want to thank you —

STEIN: I tried my best.

SCARBOROUGH: You tried your best. But at the end of the day you were the poor St. Louis Cardinal pitcher that threw a fat pitch down the middle that I’m going to take out of the park.

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