Everywhere you look these days, the mask has mothers up in arms. Some are annoyed by the fact that school districts are trying to mandate the swaddling of the children’s mouths in pursuit of an impossible goal: total and complete, hermetically-sealed protection from the Delta Plague.
Others, a majority, are thrilled that the tots will be walking around with their faces covered, their inquisitive eyes barely visible above the layers of cloth affixed to their expensive (and now relatively useless) orthodontic work.
I never had a particularly strong position on masks. I wore them because I was forced to, and groused about it. But I didn’t see it as a constitutional violation on par with quartering troops in my home until I started listening to the rhetoric from suburban mommies and their allies on the school boards.
Instead of treating the decision to mask a child as a personal choice, based on the lack of a significant threat Covid poses to kids and parents’ ultimate authority, the decision not to wear a mask is portrayed as a human rights violation on the level of the Rwandan genocide. A deluge of social media posts demand that we “follow the science!” or non-mask-wearers will literally kill people. Failure to capitulate warrants censorship and shunning.
I have seen YouTube videos of entire school boards leaving the room because parents showed up and told them in no uncertain terms that they were not going to muzzle their children. The idea that a parent would presume to know what’s good for her child better than some bureaucrat who managed to con enough neighbors into voting for him or her is shocking to the local educational oligarchs.
I mean, parents having a say in their children’s welfare? That’s outrageous! School board members might as well be saying “Their bodies, our choice.”
I don’t think I would get this worked up or this snarky if school board meetings included a fair and respectful consideration of dissenting opinions. I might even be persuaded –unlikely but possible– that the use of masks in school for a few more months until we had control of the Delta variant was reasonable.
Parents having a say in their children’s welfare? That’s outrageous! School board members might as well be saying ‘Their bodies, our choice.’
But starting with Anthony Fauci, who morphed from Marcus Welby to Dr. Frankenstein, we have been fed a steady diet of polemic lecturing from the media and the credentialed elites about how anyone who rejects the so-called science of masks is nothing less than a collaborator of death. They have enlisted institutions across society to advance this narrative, including (not surprisingly) Hollywood and (sadly) the Church. With respect to the latter, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia just came out and announced that it would not assist any Catholic in seeking a religious waiver for obtaining the vaccine.
While that has nothing to do with masks per se, and while I think the idea of a waiver based on aborted cell lines is a stretch, the thought that even the churches are now in the business of taking sides on masks in schools is troubling. My brother’s keeper does not easily translate into “whatever my brother thinks is right for him becomes my obligation to provide.”
Masks, though, are the low hanging fruit on the tree of virtue signaling. It is the branch that dips down, brushing our hands with its provocative leaves. It is the easy way that some people gaslight the rest of us into thinking that we are doing something to stem the tide of disease, when what we are really doing is going along to get along. One social media mama in the Facebook group “Malvern Community Group” vilified non-mask-wearing adults as “bullies.” When I, and a few others, challenged her position, we were removed from the group. Here today, erased tomorrow. And when you see that happening, if you have friends and want to keep them, you just slap on the mask and shut up.
This is not to say that I will not wear one if legally forced to, because I am an adult and there are many other hills to die on, including a few in the vicinity of Kabul.
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But I do have a problem with smarmily virtuous adults treating other adults as lepers because they do not want their children to spend another year wrapped in a mask. I have a big problem with parents who ignore the great psychological toll taken on those children, including descent into depression and suicidal ideation. When 12 year olds are killing themselves at increasing rates, to wear or not to wear a mask should not be the primary focus of concern.
Honestly, I think that some of these people are on power trips, and like the feeling of telling others what to do. As in, “It’s your body, and my right to tell you what to do with it.”
And we all know how they’d react if their logic were used against them in a “my body my choice” situation after all.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and columnist who splits her time between Philadelphia and Delaware County, and her heart between her two Black Labs, Chance and Sophie.