It’s hard to believe now, but once upon a time, and not long ago, it was considered unattractive and abhorrent if not socially unfashionable to wear a face mask.
English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote an entire musical around the concept, more popularly known as ThePhantom of the Opera. For those who haven’t seen a stage production of the show (loosely based on French novelist Gaston Leroux’s 1910 work) -- or the 2004 movie of the same title starring Gerard Butler (who truly CANNOT sing) -- the story revolves around a facially deformed but brilliantly twisted man who hides away from society because he can’t stand his own reflection.
The plot is complicated, but the reclusive Phantom appears to a young protégé (the tale’s main character, Christine Daaé) and teaches her to sing, though he still refuses to show himself to the outside world -- even to her. Needless to say, Christine wants to know his identity.
“Whose is that face in the mirror, whose is that face in the mask?”
Somewhat less dramatic -- but arguably equally as tragic -- is our country’s and the world’s contemporary fixation with wearing masks. Less a fashion statement than an expression of mass panic and illogical fear, the history behind governments’ requiring face coverings is uneven and lacks adequate explanation and justification, just like with the Phantom production. Thankfully, there are signs (from the CDC, etc.) indicating that Americans might finally be freed from the uncomfortable, annoying and debatably worthless paper and cloth that’s covered our mouths and noses and obscured our smiles for over a year now.
It's terrific news for vaccinated adults. Much has been written about how school children are at very little risk of contracting COVID, and even if they do, the threat to them is microscopic in comparison to other childhood ailments, including the common flu. Nevertheless, kids have been compelled to strap on the veneers and endure the oxygen-inhibiting things along with adults. Even as restrictions are lifted for fully vaccinated humans, young folks are likely to have to keep their masks. Why?
“To their credit, experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just issued updated guidance on masking for vaccinated people, saying they may go without masks in most places...
“There is reason to believe that young children, whose emotional and verbal development depend greatly on human faces, are suffering harm from wearing masks and being surrounded by adults and peers masked in public places...
“While the consequences of mask wearing in young children merit further study, there’s reason to suspect harm: According to a 2011 review of literature (about other outbreaks of disease), mask wearing in children has been found to impose a psychological burden on children, affecting their fear, anxiety, and language development. Masks also impede young children’s ‘social referencing’ or ability to read social cues and emotions.”
Do ya think? Everyone who’s insisted that masks are necessary -- for anyone, period -- has largely ignored the so-called scientific evidence and substituted their own political or curative bias in the first place. There are too many outliers in countries, states and cities that either mandated universal masking or practically no regulations at all regarding them. The news media’s taken delight in reporting the “success” of places like New York City (under Gov. Andrew Cuomo, at least until his #MeToo scandals) and the purported failure of red state extraordinaire Florida (under the fantastic Gov. Ron DeSantis) and South Dakota, even though the statistics begged a different conclusion.
In one of the oddest ironies in history, last year’s presidential election largely hinged on the respective candidates’ attitude towards wearing masks. The physically frail and decrepit Joe Biden was all for them, abstaining from open campaigning and remaining locked away in his basement, projecting the impression that covering your mouth and nose and staying away from others was critical to preventing COVID-19 and/or spreading it to the vulnerable.
Democrat politicians marched in lockstep compliance with the mask gestapo in shaming anyone who dared to breathe freely and trust their immune system to do the work for them. The powers-that-be did a very poor job of emphasizing that only those who would normally be most susceptible to flus and respiratory infections -- primarily the elderly and the obese -- were most endangered.
The liberal elites’ unspoken motto was, “Let us all suffer together equally”.
President Donald Trump took an opposite and optimistic approach. When it was revealed in early October that the president, first lady and son Barron had all tested positive, the media practically exploded with “See, I told you so” accusations and in many cases, “He wouldn’t be in this position if he’d just listened to Anthony Fauci and the other science experts and wore a mask all the time.” Many liberals secretly (or otherwise) hoped Trump would succumb to the disease -- after all, to them, he deserved it.
In his characteristic style, Trump recovered and held outdoor rallies with thousands of mask-less fans cheering him on. Oh, the horrors! What audacity! What irresponsibility! Vote him out!
Emotions ran high on both sides as schools remained closed well beyond the initial 15-day (then 30-day) period to stop the spread. Virtual learning (I can say from experience) was a disaster. At first the system didn’t work (no judging here, the school authorities had a big task to try and set this up in just a few days), then some teachers and students could log-on while others couldn’t. Lesson plans went awry. As has been exposed recently, some kids never logged-on at all.
Government restrictions varied from state to state. The only common predictive factor was the real or perceived ideological orientation of the decision-makers. Liberals in blue states loved lockdowns and mandates. Conservatives, not so much. Debate raged back and forth. Society’s Kens and Karens shot lots of dirty looks. All along, the kids had no say in it either way. Adults deprived them of an entire year’s worth of education and socialization, one they’ll never get back again.
As usual, corporate America went along with the mask mandates. At first, many citizens organized their own boycotts to avoid those conglomerates that demanded mask wearing in order to service a customer. Several fast-food chains -- Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s come to mind -- shut down their indoor dining operations and only allowed takeout orders. Some people just carried their masks and kept them off until being chased down by a store employee.
Others simply stayed away entirely.
Here in Virginia, Governor Ralph “Klan hood” Northam followed the federal CDC in decreeing that it is now okay for fully vaccinated people to take their masks off in most places, including indoors. Last weekend we visited several stores and most if not all of the customers and help were still wearing masks, despite being set “free” by our rulers. Various establishments have said they won’t check for a vaccination card, so people who go without were broadcasting that they’d gotten the shots. Sure, right?
My wife is one such person and gladly disdained the face diaper as a test case. Dirty looks abounded, but those who still wear them can’t express themselves with smiles or simple gestures. So we really don’t know for certain, do we?
In other words, mask mandates may be subsiding, but the controversy will live on -- in essence, the liberty lovers vs. the petty tyrants. The judgmental lot will no doubt wear them to demonstrate how much they “care” about their fellow human beings, but they’re really just displaying sheepish submission to fear of the unknown and the politically guided orders of a ruling class that wants to keep citizens down for as long as possible.
The Phantom of the Opera chose to wear a mask, and most would concede he had a good reason to do it. For the rest of the people back then and now, it’s time to toss the face shackles away, and never again trust the ruling elites who burdened us in the first place. Whatever happened to responsible citizens choosing for themselves?
Joe Biden administration
blue state governors
Kens and Karens
Chinese Communist Party virus