Coronavirus, masks or not? In the United States it is cultural war


In the polarized America of the endless cultural wars that also transforms the mask into a tribal identity totem, the heartfelt message of the governor of North Dakota bursts. Doug Burgum is a republican, but he considers protections against coronavirus for what they are, according to health data: ways to reduce the spread of the infection, not ideological declarations of belonging, as a minority but relevant part of the conservative world thinks.

The governor bucking the trend

Burgum sees the challenge of the mask becoming intolerance with citizens who rebel, sometimes even violently, against the obligation to wear it in a club. In Flint, Michigan, a private guard who tried to enforce the obligation was killed. While widespread protests have pushed the governors of states like Ohio to mitigate their ordinances with the protection that becomes mandatory from optional. And, now, even the opposite phenomenon appears: shops that prohibit those with covered mouths and noses from entering. And then he reacts: At least here, in North Dakota, we avoid the senseless divisions that afflict the rest of America, we do not create cultural wars for no reason: if you wear a mask you are not declaring your political faith or your preference for a candidate. You probably do it – adds Burgum in a voice that breaks with emotion – because you learned it when you had to protect a 5-year-old boy in anticancer therapy. Or because you know vulnerable people who have Covid and fight for survival. A significant message, which shakes consciences. And that, precisely for this reason, will have no effect on the trib of the no-masks who, allergic to tears, convinced that wearing it is a manifestation of weakness worthy of a frightened and pusillanimous liberal left while rejecting the courageous gesture of those who proudly defend the intangibility of personal freedoms, even at the cost of risking something.

Rebellion against quarrels

The numbers of the culture war are clear: 79 percent of Democrats wear masks in public, while among Republicans the share drops to 59 percent. If we look at the facts, it makes little sense, but many prefer to read everything through the lens of ideology, take refuge in the theses that confirm their prejudices, rather than venture into the arduous analysis of the data. The rebellion against the experts and the quarrels is back. You can see it in Congress where tough conservatives participate in debates without a mask, moderate ones use it intermittently and progressives always have it, often in the form of colorful and a little trendy bandanas. And you can see it in the White House where the mask became mandatory only a few days ago, when two cases of covid-19 occurred. While Trump, despite boasting at the beginning of the pandemic that he had bought millions of masks around the world, he always considered it optional and never wore one until what day ago. Not even when he celebrated an anniversary with World War II veterans, now over 90 years old. Did it endanger very vulnerable people? Macch, the fundamentalist theologian R.R. Reno: He showed respect for their courage: the cowardly stuff mask.

May 23, 2020 (change May 23, 2020 | 10:08 pm)


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