There are two contagions raging in America as she celebrates her 244th birthday.
The first is the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which has bedeviled the nation and the world since its effects began to be felt in the West early in the new year. Hardly as deadly as at first feared—and as first predicted by a series of “experts”—the CCP virus has been borne aloft not on winds of disease but by a malignant huffing and puffing of a national media that almost immediately recognized it as a potent political weapon against the United States and its president, Donald Trump.
What began as an admonition, “Two Weeks to Flatten the Curve,” has since morphed into a semi-permanent series of lockdowns, issued in direct violation of the Constitution, especially by various petty tyrants in states such as California, New York, and Illinois—the bluest of the left-wing “blue” states.
Dire warnings, and even police action, against Americans who chose not to take a knee before arbitrary tyranny were quickly forgotten, however, when the death of a criminal in Minneapolis police custody, however occasioned, was seized upon by the institutional left as the pretext for widespread riots and other civil disorder in order to affect the outcome of this fall’s election.
Right on cue, the media temporarily abandoned its self-appointed roles as hall monitors against the kind of traditional Americans they despise and switched to their preferred mode as cheerleaders for “progressivism” of any kind. As the cities went up in flames, statues were ripped down, and hordes of rage-filled protesters filled the streets, shoulder-to-shoulder against “systemic racism,” The New York Times, CNN, and the like cared not one whit about the “social distancing” they were insisting upon just a few days earlier.
Indeed, a recent NY Times story summed up the media’s hypocrisy: “Public health experts decried the anti-lockdown protests last spring as dangerous gatherings in a pandemic. Health experts seem less comfortable doing so now that the marches are against racism.”
How about that!
“I certainly condemned the anti-lockdown protests at the time, and I’m not condemning the protests now, and I struggle with that,” said an epidemiologist at the University of Texas–Houston. “I have a hard time articulating why that is OK.”
The reason should be obvious: Your attitude toward the pandemic is directly related to your politics at this divisive moment, and all principles are to be forged accordingly.
So now we’re back to the bogus pandemic, just in time for the media to begin crowing about the dreaded “second wave” that is sure to kill everybody that the first wave somehow missed. That the death toll from the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, in the United States currently stands at just under an attributed 133,000—out of a population of 328 million—for a fatality rate of 0.0004 seems not to matter to the fear-mongers, who by now have lost interest in the actual fatalities and instead insist on the equation infection equals death.
Having insisted for months that the United States was lagging in testing for antibodies, they are similarly silent at the fact that the United States has now tested more people (37 million) than any other country except China, where the problem originated and whose official statistics should be habitually disbelieved.
Under the principle of herd immunity—which “flattening the curve” did nothing to promote, but only extended the length of time it took for the virus to wreak its havoc—the more people who exhibit antibodies and had either minor or no symptoms the better. But that does not further the Narrative, which is that Trump is personally responsible for everything that’s going wrong in America right now.
Which brings us back to masks. Forget what the “experts” say—from Dr. Anthony Fauci on down, they have been widely inconsistent on the entire coronavirus subject, when not actually flat-out wrong.
“The bottom line, experts say, is that masks might help keep people with COVID-19 from unknowingly passing along the virus,” the website LiveScience.com reported. “But the evidence for the efficacy of surgical or homemade masks is limited, and masks aren’t the most important protection against the coronavirus.”
Clinical studies are as conflicted as the bonzes of medicine. An April study by South Korean researchers published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that “both surgical and cotton masks seem to be ineffective in preventing the dissemination of SARS–CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19 to the environment and external mask surface.”
Obviously, that couldn’t stand, and the study was retracted last month after protests: “We had not fully recognized the concept of limit of detection (LOD) of the in-house reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction used in the study (2.63 log copies/mL), and we regret our failure to express the values below LOD as ‘<LOD (value),’” the offending researchers explained, helpfully. You do the math.
Masks as Signifiers
And yet masks have become a political signifier, a visible symbol of our deeply divided shirts-and-skins America. On the left, failure to wear a mask in public is now tantamount to being a racist serial killer who also hates gays, communists, transsexuals, and the privileged thug children of Antifa. On the right, the mask-wearers are deemed skittish Henny-Pennys, virtue-signaling cowards, and petty busybodies afraid of their own shadows.
Count me on the right. With no clear proof that masks do anything material to stop the spread of a disease that raised hell in the unprotected nursing homes of Andrew Cuomo’s New York state, and which disproportionately affects the very elderly, the obese, the comorbid and the generally unhealthy, there is no serious argument to make them mandatory. If you’re sick, have a fever, and a dry cough—stay home. The economic well-being of the United States can no longer be held hostage to the medical problems of a few.
On the contrary, let us say it loud: Masks are un-American. Their connotations are almost wholly invidious; they are the apparel of bank robbers, Islamic extremists, and the Ku Klux Klan; and throughout our history they have rightfully been banned in public places—including Cuomo’s New York, where an 1845 law against them was enacted in the interests of public safety. Aside from Halloween and costume parties, there has never been a time or place in this country when masks were acceptable.
On rare occasions, we have celebrated masked men—the Lone Ranger, Zorro, and latterly, the superheroes so beloved of childish modern movie audiences. Those figures, however, were fictional characters (the Hispanic vigilante Zorro, the forerunner of Batman, was created by an American Anglo in 1919) with bounties on their heads, or whose lives or missions were otherwise in danger.
Today, the masked apparatchiks who are less afraid of contracting the virus than making sure the rest of us conform to their brand of conventional wisdom, are more brutish than brave, more scolds than superheroes, more zeroes than Zorros. Indeed, the figure they most resemble is the Phantom of the Opera—a beneficent genius until so memorably unmasked as a monster by a horrified Mary Philbin in the 1925 silent movie classic of the same name. Their goal is shame and fear—not health.
Luckily, the left has unmasked itself. As Trump said at Mount Rushmore on July 3: “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.
“Many of these people have no idea why they are doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive. But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture, to be taken from them.”
So wear your mask if you will, and in good faith. But permit the rest of us to take our masks off, and reveal the true faces of our brand of patriotism. While the Karens of this world hide their faces and rat their fellow Americans out, we have nothing to be ashamed of—and nothing to lose, as their beloved Karl Marx famously said, but our chains.
Michael Walsh is the editor of The-Pipeline.org and the author of “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace” and “The Fiery Angel,” both published by Encounter Books. His latest book, “Last Stands,” a cultural study of military history from the Greeks to the Korean War, will be published in December by St. Martin’s Press. Follow him on Twitter @dkahanerules.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.