It's amazing how a simple face covering designed to help humans survive a pandemic has managed to whip up public hysteria and push the hard right to open rebellion. From hearings on Capitol Hill to the streets outside Jefferson County health board meetings, mask requirements are prompting levels of angry and illogical defiance. Protesters loudly insist on their right to get sick and die, even if it means taking others down with them.
The signs outside Tuesday's health board meeting in Hillsboro spoke volumes about how passionately anti-mask protesters feel about their cause. "It's not a health crisis ... it's a control crisis!" said one sign. "Masks can't stop COVD," another sign asserted. One poster had a drawing of a mask labeled, "The new symbol of tyranny." And there was this masterpiece of historical distortion: "Hitler required compliance too."
Anti-mask insanity is spreading almost as fast as the pandemic itself. In some areas, people who wear masks while shopping are being confronted by total strangers and challenged to explain themselves. Some tell us they've even been mocked and taunted.
In Hillsboro, new health board member Suzy Davis is leading the charge of anti-mask ignorance by promoting her tangled interpretation of herd immunity. She predicts that the current statewide spike in new cases will subside markedly during the next 20 days "due to so many already having built immunities through their daily contacts, family, work mates, clients and customers."
In an email response, Davis took issue with a Saturday Post-Dispatch editorial mocking her: "Saying I am endangering myself and all those in my path is unproven, and how can you prove that? I may on the other hand have the best immune system, along with T Cells and there's No Way I can cause anyone else to be expossed. Besides, Being exposed actually, in turn causes the person to develope good T Cells that further fight for them against their future viruses including Corona."
Elsewhere, local Facebook groups are banning members who embrace the advice of actual experts. Conservatives embarrass themselves by repeatedly defying the experts then, one by one, succumbing to the virus. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, tested positive. So did Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who refused to wear a mask during a hearing Tuesday, where he came in close proximity to an unmasked Attorney General William Barr. Former game show host Chuck Woolery earlier this month tweeted the same kind of nonsense as Davis. Then his son tested positive, and Woolery apologized publicly.
Why this angry insistence on willful ignorance? A president who, for months, embraced bogus science and tacitly equated mask-wearing with socialism no doubt fanned these flames. Ironically, because Trump's followers refuse to embrace the facts, they are helping perpetuate this pandemic and delaying the very reopening they are demanding.
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