A time of moral panic can dissolve even the most stoic thinker’s poker face.
Trying to adjust one’s moral compass to the direction of justness in a time in which each day thrusts a new boogeyman into global headlines is like assuming the reheated leftovers you’re about to eat for dinner will taste as good as they did yesterday.
If only we could refine these issues to the point in which all that we had left to say was something as simple as violence and disease are bad, but such is never the case.
Instead we get bombarded with names like ISIL and Ebola, the kind of terms that would have held as much cultural resonance as the word Twitter ten years ago.
During a time of year in which people intentionally dress as the scariest things they can fathom, like zombies, ghouls and killer film icons, Halloween 2014 social media was all aflutter with “Sexy Hazmat”, and “Terrorist” costumes, because what’s more scary than Ebola and ISIL?
Beheadings, internal bleeding, ethnic cleansing, fifty per cent survival rate, torture, and viral contagions; words like these are enough to send shivers up the spine of a grizzly bear, I won’t even begin to pretend that I grasp them.
I do however grasp that when people are forced to fear things they do not fully understand, or desire to learn more about, people become incredibly paranoid. With the words Ebola and ISIL being slung around like lassos by media groups on the daily, these cast ropes are left clinging like nooses around the necks of associated cultural groups.
The government of Canada announced on Friday that it is closing its doors to anyone travelling from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, countries that are combatting on-going Ebola outbreaks; this initiative is being implemented by suspending visas and halting permanent residence applications for those coming from the Ebola-stricken nations.
On Oct. 23, after the shootings at Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “we live in dangerous times,”in a statement to the House of Commons. He promised to work on legislation to increase CSIS surveillance of potential terrorist threats, “Canada will never yield to terrorism and neither will this House of Commons. We carry on.” This is coming from the Prime Minister who stated that the biggest threat to Canada was “Islamicism”, and in turn promised to beef up laws related to terrorism, in a 2011 interview with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge.
The stigmatizations that have come to associate themselves with Muslim and West African communities today are heavy, hence the sudden appearance of a number of stigma combatting viral social media campaigns.
“#NotInMyName”:a viral video and twitter campaign that began in England this September. It serves as a means to provide a platform for Muslims to open the dialogue about their beliefs, and clarify that the acts being committed by radicalized groups like ISIL do not reflect the Muslim community as a whole. “We must band together to stop this group from damaging Islam, and damaging Muslims,” the video says.
“#IAmALiberianNotAVirus”campaign was launched after Liberian-American Shoana Solomon’s nine-year-old daughter, who has never been to West Africa, was quarantined and removedfrom her school because she had a cough and was of Liberian decent. “Stop the stigmatization. I am a Liberian, not a virus!” says Solomon.
In response to the news of Canada barring West African travellers, the President of the Canadian Medical Association took to Twitter stating, “Irrational fear and politics trump science yet again. There is no scientific justification for this. #ebola”
There seems to be no easy answer, but that’s the fabric of this entire paranoia. There is no denying thatISIL, and Ebola are scary, but perhaps we should take our panic down a few notches. We should not be so manic as to villainize Muslims and West Africans; this isn’t the kind of tangible fear we can dress up as for Halloween in substitute for Jason Voorhees.What our current age of moral panic really all boils down to is trulyas simple as this:violence and disease are terrifying.