Refusing to Wear a Mask Is a Uniquely American Pathology
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That it’s masks that have become charged objects, signifying the difference between Americans who want to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and those who refuse to believe in COVID-19, is no longer in doubt. As Ryan Lizza and Daniel Lippman wrote in early May, as the pandemic has progressed, the American left has largely been willing to sacrifice personal liberties in exchange for containing the virus. And while most on the political right have agreed to take precautions like staying home, a “vocal activist wing of conservatism that has enormous influence on social media and Fox News, has been far more willing to attack the various infringements on where people can go and what they have to wear.” As a result, Lizza and Lippman conclude, “the mask has become the ultimate symbol of this new cultural and political divide.”
Nowhere has the split been more pronounced than within the White House itself, where the Trump administration’s own guidelines ask Americans to wear masks in public spaces to slow the spread and yet the president himself does not. After a White House valet tested positive for COVID-19 last week, President Donald Trump announced that the valets who serve food and work around him are now required to wear masks, although he and Vice President Mike Pence continue to refuse to do so. As Ron Elving notes, political leaders often do symbolic things to model behavior they want emulated, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been adamant that modeling such public safety measures is essential. (She matches her masks to her pantsuits.) But for Trump and those around him, refusing to don face coverings—even during visits with vulnerable populations like 95-year-old World War II veterans—seems to signal, well, something. But what?
Frank Bruni argues that the message from the White House is that “masks are emblems, maybe the best ones, of the Trump administration’s disregard for, and degradation of, experts and expertise.” Lippman and Lizza wonder whether the rejection of masks says something like “I don’t have to wear a mask because I have access to regular testing,” adding that “in that sense, being in close proximity to people without covering your face is a kind of new status symbol for the pandemic era.” Liz Plank argues that Trump would rather endanger himself and others. Anna North makes a parallel argument: “Such militaristic, tough-guy messaging, along with Trump’s refusal to wear a mask, may encourage ordinary people—especially men—to minimize the risk of coronavirus for the sake of appearing manly.” North further points out that American racial bias also plays a fundamental role in the refusal to cover one’s face: Whereas young black men are perceived as doubly dangerous when they are masked, some white men like to perform their own immunity from criminal consequences by refusing to cover up.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
May 19, 2020 at 8:22 PM #316957NV WinoModerator
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That same cowboy image used to sell cigarettes at one time. And we all know how that turned out.
May 19, 2020 at 8:32 PM #316960rampartParticipant
- Total Posts: 557
@ nv wino cowboys wear protective clothing, chaps and such, and their iconic hats are a concession to the destructive power of the western sun.
the antimaskers are akin to the bikers who refuse to wear helmets because, well, they must be brain dead before any crash.
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