It’s safe to say that The Federalist — the inexplicably well-funded right-wing rag — isn’t happy about Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates. Their first post on the subject declared it a “fascist move”; a followup post groused that the Biden administration is “really just using lies and deception to force their agenda on the American public without regard for the law or Constitution.”
But as Federalist rants against COVID mitigation go, nothing quite lives up to Joy Pullmann’s nonsensical and pretentious contribution on masks earlier this week. (It somehow manages to be even more inane than her previous writings on COVID.)
Pullmann, the site’s executive editor, is upset because “mask mandates force me to communicate what I believe are very dangerous lies.”
What on earth is she talking about? Well, though she frankly admits that masks may “ultimately provide some small reduction in coronavirus spread,” she hates what she calls
the security theater, which assumes that drastic government micromanagement of our lives and indefinite curtailment of our liberties are not only ever acceptable but in fact the moral thing to do.
Of course, to anyone who’s brain hasn’t turned to mush reading The Federalist or watching Fox News,wearing masks is the moral thing to do. Most sensible Americans are already wearing them, at least indoors, and would be without the need for any mandates. Because masks save lives, and in my moral calculus, and that of most mask-wearers, saving lives is more important than the minor inconveniences of wearing a mask.
“Security Theater” is being forced to take off your shoes to go through airport security because once in the history of humanity some idiot terrorist brought a shoe bomb onto a plane. Wearing a mask actually lowers your risk of catching or spreading COVID.
Pullmann is well aware that masks save lives, acknowledging that she’s
willing to wear a mask in certain “high-risk situations like nursing homes or hospitals or the homes of cancer patients.
But apparently the lives of the rest of us don’t make quite as much of a difference to Pullmann, who blithely assumes that most “public settings … are low-risk environments and should be treated as such.”
Well, OK. Let’s talk about risk. Being outside, at least in uncrowded circumstances, is genuinely low risk, and mask mandates typically don’t require masks in these settings. Being inside a public building , especially one with poor ventilation, is a different kettle of COVID.
But to Pullmann, the masks’ functions — helping to protect both wearers and those who come in contact with them — matter less than the symbolism.
Far above and beyond any health considerations, masking is a symbol. It is a talisman, a ritual, a communication of premises that I utterly reject. Being forced to wear a mask to me is the equivalent of being forced to wear a T-shirt that supports legalized abortion, which I believe is mass murder.
No, it simply communicates that you think human lives are more important than making a political point of your own, even if the only point you’re really making is that you put your own convenience over the lives of others.
Wearing a mask communicates that I accept the premise that everyone should wear a mask, even if vaccinated, even if possessing natural antibodies, even if a child to whom the flu is more dangerous, even if an adult who believes living with risk is part of human life and that attempting to eliminate risk is more dangerous than accepting it. It communicates that the entire world should look like a hospital, a fearful and sad place where people are desperately sick, even if they don’t know it.
It really doesn’t “communicate” any of these things. Wearing a mask “communicates” that you are willing to inconvenience yourself mildly in order to save lives.
I don’t know where Pullmann got that survival rate from; it appears nowhere in the more than year-old post she cites. As of right now, using current numbers from here, the survival rate for Americans with COVID is 98%, considerably lower than 99.5%.
677,,000 Americans have already died of COVID; the total worldwide is 4.6 million. In part because the vaccination rate is so low, deaths are skyrocketing around the world. By not wearing a mask (or, even more importantly, getting vaccinated) you are contributing to these deaths. One recent piece by the Associated Press suggests that there will be another 100,000 deaths in the US unless we “change our ways.” Mask and vaccine mandates could lower that number.
And Pullmann, by highlighting the fact that death rates are lower among people younger than 65, seems to be suggesting that the lives of those over 65 are worth less than those of younger people. It’s a form of eugenics-lite.
It communicates that it is reasonable to worship health as an idol, and to control citizens with fear. Well, I simply don’t believe any of that, and I’m not going to be forced to communicate that I do.
Ms. Pullmann, all you’re communicating here is that you’re a pretentious narcissist who doesn’t give a shit about the hundreds of thousands of people who have died (and who will die) in the US.
After a few more shots at what she calls the “post-totalitarian COVID regime,” Pullmann’s rant takes a bit of a curve to consider a famous essay by Vaclav Havel, someone who actually did know quite a bit about the dangers of totalitarianism.
She decides that what mask-haters have to allegedly suffer in contemporary America is more or less equivalent to citizens in communist dictatorship being forced to pretend to support the government.
Once against forgetting that masks are practical tools to prevent COVID, she again comes back to the supposed symbolism of wearing a mask.
The point is signaling compliance out of fear, not an honest discussion of the evidence, or persuasion, or any mechanism respecting the informed and open consent of the governed.
Or maybe the point is you don’t want to get your grandmother sick with something that could easily kill her.
What mask mandates achieve [is] a false signal that dissenters don’t exist, that everyone buys into the indefinite suspension of our rights “because COVID,” no matter how much it harms people, nor how weak its alleged rationales.
How does wearing a mask “harm” you? Yes, masks are a minor inconvenience. But the worst thing they’ve ever done to me is to fog up my glasses sometimes.
After positing herself as the moral equivalent of a celebrated dissenter against totalitarian communism, she goes on to suggest that wearing a mask is like being initiated into a gang.
It’s the same dynamic as gang initiations requiring initiates to commit crimes. Once people have compromised themselves, they are more likely to identify with their compromise, because it’s embarrassing to admit you were wrong.
I’m pretty sure the gang members would also beat the shit out of anyone who quit. But I’m guessing Pullmann hasn’t had a lot of hands-on experience with being in a gang.
She apparently feels quite proud of herself for not wearing a mask, even suggesting it has been some kind of “noble sacrifice” on her part.
Dissenters are living proof that everyone does not have to comply, that it is possible to live in the truth. This shames those who have chosen temporary comfort over noble sacrifice.
She comes back again to the Soviet Union, once again suggesting that mask mandates are as bad as any restrictions’ on free speech in communist countries.
Do we need an Afghanistan-level catastrophe for more Americans to realize their acceptance of lockdowns, which mask-wearing signals, is just as deadly? Statists are more than happy to oblige. But the longer we take to wake up, the worse the suffering must be.
Even setting aside that we’ve just had an “Afghanistan-level catastrophe,” one exactly the size of Afghanistan, her argument is completely backwards. The more people wear masks, the more people get vaccinated, the less suffering there will be. Pullmann is no heroic dissident like Vaclav Havel; she’s basically a Karen with a platform.
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