By Selam Beyene
At a time when many Ethiopians in the Diaspora are disenchanted with President Obama’s gestures toward the Ethiopian tyrant Meles Zenawi, it is ironic that the work of an Ethiopian scholar, Dr. Berhanu Alemayehu, is cited as significant scientific evidence supporting the concurring opinion of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) decision. The article Dr. Berhanu co-wrote with Dr. Kenneth Warner, “The Lifetime Distribution of Health Care Costs”, was cited approvingly as evidence of the skyrocketing cost of health care in the U.S. The citation to the article follows the majority opinion which ends on p. 59. Justice Ginsburg’s concurring opinion immediately follows and the citation to the article appears on p. 4.
Asked about the significance of the citation, Professor Al Mariam of California State University, San Bernardino, wrote: “While such citation in a U.S. Supreme Court opinion may not mean a whole lot to those in the scientific community, those of us in the legal community appreciate its significance in the outcome of one of the most important constitutional cases of recent decades. It is a great honor to have one’s work cited by the highest court in the U.S. on such an important issue. I am sure there were thousands of other scientific studies on health care costs the Court could have cited, but Dr. Berhanu’s article was selected because it made a special impression. We should all be proud of Dr. Berhanu for his exemplary scientific work.”
The link to the U.S. Supreme Court Opinion is:
It is common knowledge that most Ethiopians in the Diaspora have stellar records of unparalleled sacrifice and unrelenting tenacity in their fight against tyranny and injustice perpetrated by successive authoritarian regimes in their native land. It is therefore befitting that the work of one such remarkable Ethiopian is used to support a landmark decision that will positively impact the lives of millions in his adopted country.
It may be recalled that Ethiopian-Americans passionately supported Barrack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008, and were optimistically inspired by his promise of support for those fighting against tyranny and injustice all over the world. Unfortunately, the misguided policies of his administration toward Zenawi and the continuing association of the Pentagon with the dictator as an ally “against terror”, have caused many Ethiopian-Americans to reevaluate their support and options in the coming presidential election.
Many observers now believe that Ethiopian-Americans have a unique opportunity to assert their electoral potency in the upcoming elections in the various swing states. It is important that all Ethiopian-Americans who stand for democracy, freedom and human rights should demand of their congressional candidates and presidential contenders before the November 2012 election to officially censure Meles Zenawi’s regime for its continuing abuses of human rights and denial of the democratic rights of the people.
(The writer, Selam Beyene, Ph.D., can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)