Trump Disinvited From PPE Plant For Fear His Toxic Masculinity Will Put Everyone In Danger
For 28 days last month, dozens of workers manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment at the Braskem petrochemical plant in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, actually lived inside the factory — in order to ensure that they didn't get sick themselves and contaminate the PPE. It is an incredible story of sacrifice and, frankly, patriotism. The real kind, not the woo-hoo flag pin kind. They wanted to ensure that the doctors and nurses wearing this equipment to protect themselves from COVID-19 did not put themselves at risk by wearing it.
In order to indulge Donald Trump's desire to get out and be seen looking like he's doing something, White House officials tried to arrange a visit to the Braskem factory, so he could do a nice little press conference, thank the workers, and go on a tour of the factory.
However, factory officials have decided that isn't really a great idea, citing fears that such a visit could undo all of the hard work employees have been doing to keep the plant from getting contaminated.
"We were deeply honored by the White House's acknowledgment of our production resiliency teams," Braskem CEO Mark Nikolich said in a statement. "However, after many discussions, the parties agreed due to the nature of petrochemical operations and the safety of our team members and visitors a visit wasn't feasible."
In this case, Trump's toxic masculinity problem was not merely figurative.
Trump, notably, refuses to wear a mask, reportedly because he thinks it will make him look weak. Oddly, he's not that concerned about looking weak when he throws a tantrum every time someone asks him a question he doesn't like at a press conference, but wearing a mask — which is not about protecting oneself as much as it is about protecting others in case one is an asymptomatic carrier of the virus — is for sissies.
But he's not the only one refusing to wear a mask. Vice President Mike Pence made headlines recently for swanning around the Mayo clinic while not wearing a mask even after they informed him they were required. And after he was soundly criticized for that, he participated this past Friday in a televised conference with a bunch of CEOs in Des Moines, Iowa, who were directed, by a member of the White House Staff, to remove their masks as well. This was, by the way, just hours after it was announced that Katie Miller — Pence's press secretary and wife to noted white nationalist/White House Advisor Stephen Miller — had contracted the virus.
Via The Intercept:
Two of those executives, Ken Sullivan of Smithfield Foods and Noel White of Tyson Foods, run meatpacking plants where hundreds of workers have contracted Covid-19, including a Tyson plant in Waterloo, Iowa where more than a third of the workforce — 1,031 people — has tested positive and at least three workers have died. The Tyson plant in Waterloo was reopened on Thursday following an executive order from President Donald Trump that designated the meat supply "critical infrastructure."
The strange request to the executives to remove their masks underscored just how committed the White House is to ignoring federal health advice intended to slow the spread of the pandemic coronavirus.
Although the vice president appeared to follow social distancing guidelines during the discussion, he did not wear a mask, nor did any of the officials who accompanied him on Air Force Two from Washington: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Iowa's two Republican senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst. The Des Moines Register reported that, before the event, "staffers with gloves and masks took the temperatures of people who entered the building one at a time." Video of the hall showed that very few of the people in the audience were wearing masks.
Making this even more appalling is the fact that workers at these meatpacking plants have been forced to return to work by a Trump executive order, despite the fact that many of them have gotten sick and some have died.
Again, this is all about the visual of "projecting strength." In their minds, people are looking at them and thinking, "Wow! Look at how strong and virile these leaders are! They're not scared of some silly virus! They are macho, macho men! And also Joni Ernst, who, let us not forget, is really good at castrating hogs."
(And "normalcy." They are also very het up to project "normalcy," and take offense at other people wearing masks — like Pence's CEOs — because it will make observers think there is a pandemic outside. If the members of the Trump administration had four brain cells to rub together, they would see that this is very bad for their own goal of "reopening" the country because it'll keep spreading as long as we're all breathing on each other. They are not forward thinkers.)
While we might think this is all very stupid and irresponsible — that the President of the United States should be modeling the precautions all Americans should be taking instead of declaring himself the exemption to the rule — conservatives think it is great, and that he looks very manly. George Washington-esque, really.
Over on The Federalist, home of bad takes, columnist David Marcus argues that the President should not wear a mask because "strength."
On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated at Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City. Today a statue of the father of our nation stands almost upon the exact spot. The 1883 depiction of Washington by John Quincy Adams Ward shows the hero of the Revolution staring out at the nation and the people he must now lead; his face is dressed in a look of determination. The image of the president matters, and that is why today President Trump should not be wearing a face mask in public.
Someone should tell him that there is almost no way that Washington was making the exact face at his inauguration that was depicted by John Quincy Adams Ward on a statue, unless he was just standing there with his face not moving for a very long time, which seems unlikely.
Scolds have been on a rampage over the past few days regarding Trump's unwillingness to don the face covering that has come to define our current moment of Chinese virus. Some, like Nancy Pelosi argue that Trump is setting a bad example for Americans; others say he is fueling a politicization of masks that harms public health. What Trump is really doing is projecting American strength and health at a time when strong leadership is needed.
For what it is worth, "scolds" are not worried that Trump is going to get COVID-19. We're not sitting around fretting for Donald Trump's personal health. If he wants to do shit to endanger himself, no one is going to stop him. That is his choice and no one would respect it more than I. Big fan of choice here!
An image of Donald Trump wearing a protective face mask while performing his duties, behind the Resolute Desk, or in the White House briefing room would be a searing image of weakness. It would signal that the United States is so powerless against this invisible enemy sprung from China that even its president must cower behind a mask. That simply should not happen.
Damn, this guy is really trying to interject as much unrelated racism in this as possible. It's almost impressive. Almost.
The problem is that, again, wearing a mask is about not about protecting oneself, but not endangering other people. Trump acting like wearing a mask is a sign of weakness is also contagious and therefore puts people at risk from other idiots who will see that shit and go "Oh! I don't want to look weak either! I want to look like a big strong manly man!"
This is why if you are in a red state, I am informed, more than half the people are walking around the Safeway without a mask on and glaring at you for wearing one.
There are few things more weak-looking than "machismo." No one looks at a guy going around acting like some kind of carfone and says, "Oh wow, he seems so secure." At least I never have.
Personally, my Platonic ideal of a man who is strong and secure in himself is Rosie Grier. This guy goes around in the '70s or whenever, he's this big time football player, but he does needlepoint and gives zero fucks about what anyone thinks about him doing needlepoint.
It's Alright to Cry (it's gonna make you feel better!) www.youtube.com
That's what strength is. Only weak people sit around being super worried that other people are going to think they look weak. Strong people don't care. Trump, however, is willing to make other people less safe in order to project what he thinks an image of machismo to the world, and in the end, looks just as much like a baby as he always does.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse