To those looking to benefit politically from emergencies, COVID presents an opportunity to advance plans targeted to transform American freedom, like masks.
On May 26, Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam announced that wearing masks outside one’s home will be mandatory effective May 29. He first hinted he might issue a masking order a week ago, likely to test the water.
Mandatory-masking policies provide a valuable foundation to weaponize the virus against American liberty—now and in the future.
A new refrain in public discourse is growing in volume by the day: “Things will never be the same.” The certainty with which we are assured of this pre-determined future is perplexing. Whether or not “things” will ever be the same is not at all clear, but that some people hope things will never be the same is certain.
If everyone is wearing a mask, it telegraphs a society-wide acceptance that the status quo has changed, and with that consensus other changes can come, too.
In addition to extending the fiction that we are in an emergency sufficient to trigger the extra-constitutional authority of local and state executives, mandatory masking acts as a peer pressure-fueled signal that encourages conformity to our coming “new normal.”
In short, cloth masks are largely symbolic. The science hasn’t changed, but the agenda has. Implementing mandatory mask policies across a society of 300 million because it makes some people feel better is absurd on its face.
An April 18 article in the Washington Post underscores the strategy, presenting the mask controversy as a left versus right debate. People resisting mandatory mask policies are, per usual, painted as unreasonable, headstrong, and backward—displaying ignorant American bravado while rejecting science and good sense. (That caricature is itself a tool to mock, marginalize, and silence dissent.)
The most telling passage of the article is this one:
For Trump’s supporters, declining to wear a mask is a visible way to demonstrate “that ‘I’m a Republican,’ or ‘I want businesses to start up again,’ or ‘I support the president,’ ” said Robert Kahn, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis who has studied Americans’ attitudes toward masks. ‘Masks will quickly become the new normal in blue states, but if social distancing continues through 2022, the mentality among Republicans could well change, too: If I can go to work and the cost of marginal improvement in my life is wearing a mask, maybe Americans of both parties do accommodate ourselves to it.’
And that’s the key. If we want to marginally improve our lives, we will submit. The masks aren’t the endgame. The point of the masks is to teach the American people that if we want to get some sense of normal, we have to accept abnormality.