The Death Cult: Masks as the Hill to Die On

The astroturfed protests had two disturbing elements. The first was the purposeful violation of social distancing. The second was the conspicuous lack of masks. This was the point of the demonstrations. The death cult will not be told by anybody what to wear, when to wear it, or how to stand with each other, all in the name of a bizarre concept of freedom. This is an individualistic sense of freedom, that supersedes all that implies being part of society. It is freedom from mandates, and society, not the freedom to do things and be part of civil society. It’s corrosive and damaging to society since it rejects the concept itself.

These people think of themselves as red-blooded patriotic Americans defending the nation against those fascists telling them to wear a mask. Why? This is to help them save lives, the lives of others. It will protect others from my disease and this means thinking beyond the individual. After all, as I type I could have COVID and not be aware of it. In fact, the most infectious phase of the disease seems to be exactly before symptoms show. In some cases they never do. These are super-spreaders, going around like Typhoid Marys. The mask prevents their droplets from infecting others. It is more than just the individual. For many in the death cult, those outside their in-group are less than them. In a few cases, this is limited to their immediate family.

They carry signs calling a governor a Nazi and they also are fighting socialism. Apparently public health measures are communist, socialist, fascist and nazi like. One has to wonder exactly where these “free thinkers” went to school, but I digress. This is one reason terms that have fixed meanings in normal society are transformed into a fact-free present. This is a good way to distract people and muddle terms that the far right does not like because it applies to their ideology. For example, both fascism and nazis are right-wing movements that emerged in the late 1920s in Europe. They are at the core of the modern-day far-right ideology

While both fascism and Nazi ideologies are authoritarian, the far-right uses them to describe democratically elected center-right Democratic-led governments. This-is both meant to confuse and delegitimize these governments. Whether this is a state Governor or the past administration of Barack Obama.

Which brings us back to masks.

This pandemic is asking relatively little from most citizens. We have some challenges at supermarkets, due to logistic chain issues, not actual wartime rationing. This includes the rationing of some goods that are in short supply due to the pressures in the just in time logistics system. We are not asked to plant victory gardens, except in an add meant to sell plant food. This could be a good idea if nothing else serves as a hedge against the supply chain issues.

We are not being asked to either enlist or have our children do so to storm the beaches on the other side of the world. We are not told to darken our homes, in case of an air raid. We are not asked to wrap bandages to send to distant front lines…or to save fruit pits to make carbon for gas masks. All this was asked of previous generations.

All we are told is to keep six feet from others, wear a mask in public, and wash hands.

Yet…this sends the death cult into paroxysms of anger and claims that their freedom is under attack. Freedom from what? Civil society? We are asking them to have the fore-though to protect themselves, and others from a disease for which we have no natural defenses. This is why it’s called a novel virus. Some of these same people threaten to cancel their memberships at Cosco. Apparently having their receipts checked on the way out, a condition for service, and arguably more of an invasion of their rights, is not enough. But a public health requirement to wear something as mild as a mask is a direct attack on their freedom to do as they wish. It is a strange hill to plant a flag, but they have and are willing to literally die on it

This is coming from a concept of freedom that is utterly individualistic. This is why we do not have a national medical care system. These are the same people that believe in individual responsibility but not in the collective. Strangely if we all get that care, it means less freedom. Oh never mind that freedom from medical bankruptcy, even if we all would need to pay slightly higher taxes, is limiting to these people. After all, this means we all would get care, not just those with insurance through workplaces

Freedom from want and fear is alien to this generation of far-right Americans. So is the idea that protecting others is also protecting yourself. It makes me wonder if somehow this is the value system of a bully? It is clear that these are not values compatible with a working civil society. They do not want that, if it does not create a hierarchy, with them at the top.

There is some good news here. They are far from the majority. They act as if they were, but they are not. And the rest of us should start acting on this knowledge and standing up to the bullies.

There is more. They are not even a large minority. This is why they are so loud, and yes, anti-social. And by this, I mean out of step with normative society. This is the reason for the long guns since they are trying to trigger fear. Instead, they should face ridicule. This is why they react to masks as if they were three-year-olds. Normal people who understand living in an organized society do not talk of a mask to help prevent you from making others catch your disease as muzzling. Only three-year-olds react this way when faced with the choice of a winter coat.

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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