Trump Trumps Selflessness with Selfishness

August 7th, 2014
Family Security Matters Oped by James Zumwalt

Recently, Donald Trump attended a ground-breaking ceremony for a hotel to be built in Washington, D.C. His attendance came in the wake of comments he had made criticizing the return to the U.S. for treatment of an American doctor who had been working in Africa where he contracted ebola.

In a tweet, Trump wrote: “The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back. People that go to far away places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences!

For the writer, Trump’s comment triggered the memory of Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Harris.

Trump did not know Harris as the Navy petty officer did not travel in the same circle of friends and associates as did the real estate mogul. Too bad. Trump could have learned a life lesson from Harris, who died February 26, 2013.

Some background on ebola and the dangers it poses is necessary.

Ebola is highly infectious and incurable. It is also capable of spreading quickly. However, whether it does or not is determined by three things Trump well understands in the world of real estate development:  location, location, location!

The disease runs the risk of spreading quickly in those locations in Africa where containment is limited due to local traditions, inadequate sanitary conditions, risky dietary consumption, etc. Such conditions fuel the fires of fear in America that it can just as quickly spread here.

Educated persons, including-it is assumed-Trump, whose position in life gives him a permanent soapbox, owe it to the American public not to feed into the fear by making comments as he did. They only hype public panic as evidenced by the numerous concerned bloggers who, astonishingly, agreed with Trump, ignorant of factors contributing to the spread of the virus in Africa that are non-existent here.

The Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, in an aptly worded statement to downplay concerns by the public said: “I hope that our understandable fear of the unfamiliar does not trump our compassion when ill Americans return to the U.S. for care.”

Other U.S. health officials advised the likelihood of the virus spreading here was very unlikely.

The patient, Dr. Kent Brantly, agreed to take an experimental drug known as ZMapp. Time is always a consideration for ebola patients who can suddenly take a turn for the worst. A vial of the drug was removed from the freezer but required about ten hours of natural thawing before it could be administered.

As the vial de-thawed, a second victim-Brantly’s assistant Nancy Writebol-fell victim to ebola. In an heroic act, Brantly requested Writebol be given the first ZMapp dose, believing her younger age gave her a better chance of beating the virus. Brantly then called his wife to say good-bye.

However, by the time the first vial de-thawed, Brantly’s situation had deteriorated to the point he needed it immediately. After it was administered, he underwent a miraculous recovery. His situation had improved so much, he was able to be flown from Liberia back to the U.S. for further treatment.

The compassion Trump failed to show Brantly was well understood by Navy Petty Officer Harris. It is compassion tied to the military’s adage one never abandons a fellow warrior on the battlefield.

Harris was a Navy diver who was participating in a training exercise involving a second diver, Petty Officer 1st Class James Reyher, in Aberdeen, Maryland. Reyher somehow became entangled in debris at the bottom of a deep pond. Harris set to work trying to free him.

Both divers were connected by a line which Harris easily could have severed to save himself. He chose not to do so, exerting even his very last breath attempting to save his buddy as both men ran out of air.

One can only wonder whether Trump, in issuing his statement of selfishness, is even capable of understanding the selflessness exhibited by Harris who refused to abandon one in trouble.

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