Exceptional Idiocy

by digby

This TB patient is a perfect small-scale example of idiotic American exceptionalism:

A man with a form of tuberculosis so dangerous he is under the first U.S. government-ordered quarantine since 1963 had health officials around the world scrambling Wednesday to find passengers who sat near him on two trans-Atlantic flights.

The man told a newspaper he took the first flight from Atlanta to Europe for his wedding, then the second flight home because he feared he might die without treatment in the U.S.


Health officials said the man had been advised not to fly and knew he could expose others when he boarded the jets from Atlanta to Paris, and later from Prague to Montreal.

The man, however, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that doctors didn't order him not to fly and only suggested he put off his long-planned wedding in Greece. He knew he had a form of tuberculosis and that it was resistant to first-line drugs, but he didn't realize it could be so dangerous, he said.

"We headed off to Greece thinking everything's fine," said the man, who declined to be identified because of the stigma attached to his diagnosis.

He flew to Paris on May 12 aboard Air France Flight 385. While in Europe, health authorities reached him with the news that further tests had revealed his TB was a rare, "extensively drug-resistant" form, far more dangerous than he knew. They ordered him into isolation, saying he should turn himself over to Italian officials.

Instead, the man flew from Prague to Montreal on May 24 aboard Czech Air Flight 0104, then drove into the United States at Champlain, N.Y. He told the newspaper he was afraid that if he didn't get back to the U.S., he wouldn't get the treatment he needed to survive.

Regardless of whether, knowing what he knew, he should have ever gone on this trip in the first place, this selfish and thoughtless man has been brainwashed by malevolent conservatives like Rudy Giuliani who spews nonsense about how "nobody goes to Europe for health care," to make an ideological point about "socialized medicine", despite the fact that their health care is actually superior to ours.

According to the news conference I just heard, the CDC was even trying to find a way to get this man back to the US, but this fellow was so "afraid" of being under the care of furriners until they could transport him back that he took off without telling anyone where he was going.

This attitude actually kills people. In this case it may be some poor schnooks who had the misfortune to come across this foolish man during his mad dash to get back to "civilization." But it's the same combination of hubris and stupidity that is making people all over the world recoil in horror at America's leadership. Our culture is sick with arrogant, anti-intellectual provincialism. I wouldn't blame the planet for wanting to quarantine the whole damned country.