Innocent victims of masked hysteria
Three dispatches from the front lines in the land of Hoaxes, Fake News, Witch Hunts and Conspiracy Theories:
* A week or so ago, a mask-wearing server was attending to customers seated at one of the socially distant patio tables of a Medford restaurant.
Before ordering, the diners delivered a diatribe about Oregon’s mandated health regulations and mocked the server for wearing a face covering because of what they said was a Chinese-manufactured flu that had been blown out of proportion by the media in an attempt to keep the president from being reelected.
* A few days later, a mask-wearing customer paying for her purchases at an Ashland market turned repeatedly to the unprotected young man who stood too close behind her in line — having ignored the store’s request to keep a proper distance in the checkout line — in a futile attempt to have him back up.
Exasperated, she finally lowered the boom.
“You may not care about my mother’s health,” she told him, “but I do.”
* Then, on Thursday, the owner of a local coffee shop had to deal with a trio of customers who objected to the business’s adherence to the (once again, for emphasis) regulations mandated by the state.
One of the customers threatened repeated to sure, citing an unnamed “medical condition”; the others, in the words of the shop owner, felt “very strongly that this whole pandemic is just a way to keep us in fear so as to slowly erode our civil liberties.”
So it goes.
Our land of the free has 4% of the world’s population ... and 25% of the world’s coronavirus cases.
And still, the naysayers are unconvinced.
Our home of the brave now has seen roughly the same number of deaths from health issues derived from COVID-19 than the entire populations of Medford ... and Ashland ... and Eagle Point ... and Jacksonville ... and White City ... combined.
But don’t try explaining that to the clueless shoppers or aggressively petulant restaurant patrons — or the rest of those dissuaded, divided and deluded by their defiant blind allegiance for political propaganda. For them, their belief system is less reflective of the Founding Fathers declaring independence than it is Yankovic’s daring to be stupid.
Seriously ... do you really expect a barista or a waitperson risk losing their job by violating state regulations ... JUST FOR YOU??? Howl at the moon all you want, but leave the working folks — and those of us with enough consideration for the lives of others — out of your soap box oratorios.
Maybe it was Al-ex-an-der Ham-il-ton who best described the behavior of those who reject the expertise and experience of health professionals.
“Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it,” Hamilton wrote, “or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.”
At the other end of the eloquence spectrum, we find an attendee of a recent political rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma — an upstanding sort for whom the realms of reality and fantasy had become somewhat intermixed.
“We had a friend who died from COVID, and his son was on a ventilator, he almost died. So we know it’s real,” he told TV news crews. “But then, at the same time, you don’t know what the facts are.”
Heck, we’ve already quoted Alexander Hamilton and Weird Al — with Irving Berlin and Conan O’Brien in the on-deck circle — why not invite George Orwell to the party.
“Power,” he wrote, “is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
After all, that’s what is going on here. The exercise of power in getting human minds not just to buy into, but defend to the point of belligerence, a line of biodegradable trumpery that stampedes in opposition to their own best interests.
It feeds into exhibitions of childlike obstinance as though the unconvinced were told they couldn’t leave the table without eating their vegetables.
You almost can hear the tone of “I don’t wanna” in their argument, eyes wide shut and fingers blocking their ears.
It’s all enough to hope for intervention from a higher power ... although, as a certain red-haired comedian suggested, that might not work out the way we think.
“God,” Conan tweeted in late May, “is looking down at humans right now thinking, ‘Damn. Maybe I should try dinosaurs again.’”
That Tulsa rally was the same event at which the publicly mask-averse Leader of the Free World joked (or didn’t) that he wanted fewer tests for coronavirus — which obviously would keep down the numbers of those infected.
He who would be The Lone Ranger once had called COVID-19 “the invisible enemy” against which “WE WILL WIN THIS WAR!!!”.
Meanwhile, this Thursday, he told the Fox Business Channel that he believes “that at some point (the virus is) going to sort of just disappear. I hope.”
That same day, a record 52,000 more cases of coronavirus were reported from the mountains ... to the prairies ... to the oceans, white with foam.
The new message, which will reportedly be rolled out over the next few days, is that “we need to live with it” — undoubtedly without the use of capital letters or exclamation points.
As we wait for something that’s invisible to “just disappear,” what does it say a war (against an enemy that has killed more Americans than in any conflict other than the Civil War and WWII) that the “hope” is that it will just get tired of playing and go home?
Our one nation, under God, increasingly divisible, is fighting from the bottom of a foxhole.
Yet there are still sufficient numbers of nonbelievers certain they can dig us out of this mess ... if we only dig deeper.
The staff at firstname.lastname@example.org hopes that those who work with the public through these times are treated with common decency by their customers.