New Orleans Of all of the revolts we might imagine in the fever dreams of our lives, the anti-mask rebellion has to be one for the comic books. Much of the protest has been passive, implemented by random weird walkers in the pointless pursuit of some perverse pretense of principal. Most media coverage seems to focus on small gaggles of full-faced folks waving their arms and shouting. I see myself as somewhat of an experienced hand in the protest arts and perhaps might even be seen as an expert of sorts, and I might share that mainly, “it’s not a good look!”
I’m not crawling out on a limb here. It turns out I’m in a crowd. Recent polling has found that 66 percent of Americans oppose state anti-mask laws, and only 33 percent support them. What’s more, the poll also finds that a whopping 77 percent oppose efforts to withhold funding from school districts and local governments that implement mask mandates. Who says there’s no hope for America? Turns out the vast majority want to live free and NOT die!
More enjoyably to me is that this wild and wooly stance by politicians in defiance of public health and common sense, as the delta variant of Covid-19 rages, is biting some of the populist pretenders right in the rear end. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson in a shocking move even admitted he had been both too hasty and wrong in thinking it was going to be alright to sign a no-mask-mandate passed by his Republican legislature. Presidential wannabe Ron DeSantis has jumped the shark. CNN is reporting that his 2024 ambitions are sinking fast now. One of his big donors is also a key investor in a covid-drug that DeSantis has been promoting. More importantly, perhaps, Florida school districts and cities are in open revolt of his anti-mask-mandates and doing exactly the opposite.
Texas Governor Abbott is a sadder sack. Not only are school districts ignoring his anti-mask mandate, but in San Antonio and Bexar County, they have thus far succeeded in blocking his orders in court. Like Florida, they aren’t alone. Other cities and districts are also going their own way as schools in Texas go full steam in coming days. In a classic, what goes around, comes around, Abbott, long vaccinated, but of course maskless has now tested positive for Covid and is on his way to quarantine. Perhaps the Democratic legislators hiding out to prevent the body from enacting voter suppression measures in yet another special session there, can book him his on special room while he’s getting clean?
Meanwhile, in the real world, it is very different from crazy land. Hospitals are running out of rooms and staff. Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, and others are now recording more cases than any other time in the pandemic. Mississippi is bringing in ships to provide extra beds. Tents are being pitched on some hospital grounds. The CDC is preparing to recommend a booster shot for people after eight months to ward off the virus. Needless to say, they want everyone masked.
Politicians can usually tell which way the wind is blowing, and for many, it’s a gale force in their faces. This revolt, if there was one, is now in an Afghan army-style retreat, while vaccinations rates are going up, masks are being worn, and the rest of us are in the vast majority that rejects the nightmare and chooses life for ourselves and our community.