Stick with the facts, not fear, in debate over funding to fight Zika

The inability of Congress to pass a Zika funding bill illustrates the continual partisan gridlock in Washington. In an effort to break this stalemate, the Zika virus outbreak in Puerto Rico has been overhyped with predictions of worse-case scenarios to spur congressional action. We fully support the passage of a funding bill to help eradicate Zika but fear tactics should not be deployed as a means to an end. Misinformation can have harmful consequences for Puerto Rico’s tourism-dependent economy and to our businesses, which help support local economies and employ thousands of Puerto Rican citizens.

Instead, let’s stick with the facts over fear and use data to put this into perspective. 

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Fact: Less than 1 percent of Puerto Rico’s population has Zika, a far cry from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s prediction of 20 percent by the end of the year.

Fact: After peaking in late July, the rate at which Puerto Ricans have been contracting Zika is trending downward. This remains inconsistent with the continued hype of predictions that haven’t come true as we head into our peak travel season.

Fact: Zika is a serious health issue for pregnant woman and for those planning to conceive in the next six months. However, for the rest of the population there is little to worry about, and travelers to Puerto Rico can have a worry-free experience, business or leisure.

Stop the fear mongering as fuel for Zika funding. Let’s stick to the facts.

From Miguel Vega, Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association, Coral Gables, Fla.


Publishing racist language on opinion pages is irresponsible

I subscribe to The Hill on Facebook to pad my feed of everyday people with a little news, especially where politics are concerned. I also like to color my feed with some unfiltered news from what, I hope, is a relatively unbiased source. Accepting that bias is inevitable, at least it can be presented in a thoughtful, reflective manner. 

Needless to say, when I saw the post titled “Because her lips were moving: Why Hillary lost the debate” (Sept. 27, The Hill’s Contributors blog), I knew two things right away: It was, without a doubt, opinion writing; and second, that it was shockingly blatant slog that goes beyond stark partisanship.

Partisanship comes naturally in politics; it’s the gum wiped into the carpets of political discourse. It really makes a room look bad when it happens. And yet, when I saw this piece published in The Hill, I had hoped that the paper would hold itself to a standard higher than publishing any outright racist language, such as the opening line of the piece. “How do you know an Iranian is lying? Because his lips are moving.” 

Really?

Fact-checking and hyper-editorializing the news is something journalists are having to think about a lot these days with the concerned hand-flapping that arises with the daily untruth erupting from the campaigns, but what have we come to when our papers gladly print dated and beyond classless sayings like that? As if the United States wasn’t in a bad enough way when our citizens have to assure Muslims in America that they are welcome and not widely reviled. Now, one of our papers goes on to publish a person’s sentiment without rejecting it for its clearly offensive and hostile rhetoric. 

Opinions like that ought not to be welcome contributions to our political discussions. They serve no purpose other than to finish an argument before it can start.

From Bryan Loftis, Seoul, South Korea