No, Wearing A Mask Isn’t Some 'Secular Elite' Cult Thing. We Just Don’t Want To Die.
The coronavirus remains a growing threat to the nation, but we're still fighting a silly culture war over masks. The science is clear: Covering your big, dumb face will help slow the spread of COVID-19. That's objectively a good thing unless you're in the “everyone dies in a pandemic" business, which it seems like the Trump administration is these days.
Donald Trump won't wear a mask, because he can't willingly do anything decent. Republicans, however, are reconsidering their suicide pact with him. They aren't just wearing masks themselves but actively encouraging this basic safety measure as if they serve the public and not the president's ego.
Michael Steele, former chair of the Republican National Committee, is so done with Trump and the modern GOP. He's even called out Republicans for only promoting masks now because COVID-19 is surging in red states, and it's not sound electoral strategy to kill your voters.
From the Washington Post:
Residents in so-called red states, Steele said, "don't have superpowers and aren't somehow immune from the ravages of covid-19. That's why it was paramount for the president to be the voice of leadership here, not to undermine the scientists, not to berate the Dr. Faucis of the world. And now Fox says the president should set a good example and put on a mask. Really, now? After 120,000 deaths? After a million-plus people get infected?"
The brother has a point.
There are still some Republicans who want to try and out-stupid Trump. South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem boasted on Monday that no one's required to social distance or wear masks at Trump's Independence Day rally Friday at Mount Rushmore. It's a COVID-19 free-for-all!
Liberty-loving (except for women's uteruses!) conservatives tend to chafe at mask mandates, but they also chafe at wearing masks in general. They're so darn uncomfortable and possibly lethal if you're too dumb to wear them correctly.
I put on a mask and literally within seconds, I am struggling to breathe.— Bill Mitchell (@Bill Mitchell)1593533224.0
Bill Mitchell's valiant struggle against cloth demonstrates why mask requirements are necessary. Some people aren't likely to bother otherwise. Studies have shown that mask mandates are associated with a decline in COVID-19 cases. Most Americans support mask wearing. It's not a political killer, and that's why Republicans who pass for sensible are finally getting on board.
As Democratic pollster Margie Omero said,"Mask-wearing didn't have to be partisan. The data about mask-wearing hasn't changed." But Trump wasn't just critical of masks. He's mocked people who wear them, once suggesting it was just a show of “political correctness."
Republican strategist Alex Castellanos agrees with Trump. Wearing masks is just performative bullshit, like all religious observance ... wait, what?
CASTELLANOS: Mask-wearing has become a totem, a secular religious symbol.
No, try again, please.
CASTELLANOS: Christians wear crosses. Muslims wear a hijab, and members of the Church of Secular Science bow to the Gods of Data by wearing a mask as their symbol, demonstrating that they are the elite; smarter, more rational, and morally superior to everyone else.
Few things here: There is no “Church of Secular Science." Also, “Gods of Data" sounds like a 1990s electronica band. Nothing Castellanos says makes a lick of sense. If masks were an elitist “symbol," we wouldn't waste time begging everyone to wear them. The club that hands out free drink coupons all day usually isn't a happening spot.
Can't we all just wear masks? This isn't about religion: Leeches won't save you from COVID-19 but masks will. We're not asking conservatives to give up hating. We'll fight their culture wars in the empty stadiums where they used to play football. Let's just agree on this one, simple thing. The worst that'll happen is people will live.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."