The Politicized Life, Ebola Edition

This Christian woman sews dresses for little girls in Africa. DISGUSTING. GROSS. UGH. / AP

Pop quiz, hotshot:

You're dying of ebola and have the choice between bleeding out in the street unloved by anyone or being cared for by a Christian missionary. What do you do? What do you do?

If you're Slate‘s Brian Palmer, that's apparently a tougher question than you might think. Here's Palmer:

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Missionary doctors and nurses are stationed throughout Africa, in rural outposts and urban slums. Rather than parachuting in during crises, like some international medicine specialists, a large number of them have undertaken long-term commitments to address the health problems of poor Africans.

And yet, for secular Americans—or religious Americans who prefer their medicine to be focused more on science than faith—it may be difficult to shake a bit of discomfort with the situation. Our historic ambivalence toward missionary medicine has crystallized into suspicion over the past several decades. It’s great that these people are doing God’s work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?

For serious?

I still don’t feel good about missionary medicine, even though I can’t fully articulate why.

For serious. Wow.

I haven't stumbled across an example of the politicized life this nakedly disgusting in a while. Can you imagine going through life hating a group of people so much that the very thought of them providing aid and comfort to an impoverished people suffering from a horrible disease makes you want to retch? What Palmer is describing here is a visceral hatred, something he feels in his gut but can't quite articulate. He's like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, conditioned to be ill at the thought of certain things.

It's just that, for Palmer, the "certain thing" isn't the thought of violence or rape. No. It's the thought of a Christian doing something good in the world.

Eventually, Palmer says that he's willing to choke back the bile and allow the missionaries to do their work. Hooray, I guess?

What a horrible way to go through life.