I know this may seem a little sensationalist (in fact, it is, since it came from the “journalists” at Slate) but Obama hugged the miracle American woman who survived Ebola.
Let’s take a look at this image, critically:
1.) Why was this woman called before the president?
Hopefully, the event was meant to be a celebration of Miss Pham’s renewed lease on life. Unfortunately, it looks more like a publicity stunt; this is a show that America can conquer the disease that has been killing Africans daily for months, so long as we submit to love. (Slate deems it a declaration of love for the victims of the plague, and a show that “the most important thing a president can do is be calm, clear, and compassionate.”)
2.) Where’s the President’s face?
Hidden behind the woman so that we can see all of her radiant, thankful smile. She has been cured by the CDC, and the President’s suit is more important to the image than his expression.
3.) Where are they?
The Oval Office, according to the caption. Not the White House lawn, or Pham’s home. Pham is intimately placed in the epicenter of Presidential Power.
4.) Does she wanna be there?
Who knows? If I had just recovered from a lethal disease, the first thing I want to do is get shuttled around in a black limousine with 50 armed guards.
5.) Is the AIDS comparison adept?
Maybe, if we’re talking xenophobia and inciting a panic. But the issue is, AIDS seemed to target a specifically marginalized demographic whereas Ebola does not yet. Arguably in foreign countries where the pandemic is much more prevalent it could be argued that Ebola targets lower classes, but the social dynamics that existed with AIDS are simply absent with Ebola.
EDIT: I’ve since realized that Ebola could also be said to strike particularly marginalized groups abroad, but I was speaking more about America. And it is important that Obama is publicly responding to the epidemic with manufactured love instead of the ignorance and hate we’ve seen in videos from the AIDS/Reagan era. But that doesn’t mean that he’s perfect, or that the image isn’t problematic at a certain level.
6.) Do I know what I’m talking about?
Very possibly not; I do not know anyone in the picture, the city they’re in, or even anyone afflicted by Ebola. If you feel more qualified (or equally, or less, or whatever) or feel like I missed something, please don’t hesitate to weigh in