Guest post by Niall McCrae
Stern masker at the store
Compliance is not enough. Popular actor Laurence Fox, interviewed on New Culture Forum, said that despite wearing a mask in shops and on public transport, he is still being criticised. You shouldn’t complain, he is told. Instead, you should feel happy. A mask shows that you care, purportedly, and that you are a good person – unlike those ignoramuses and conspiracy theorists who recklessly and selfishly endanger others. As Fox perceives, the coronavirus pandemic is being used to display moral superiority.
Masks have become a fault line in the culture war. Laws and the threat of fines force the majority of people to comply, but there is a thinly veiled contrast between those who want to wear them and those who dislike this excessive response to a mostly mild upper respiratory tract infection. The divide is heavily influenced by social class and ideology.
The mask advocates get their way, because they are the establishment, supported by the legions of graduates of campus puritanism. In this regime of Cultural Maskism, the ordinary folk are cast as germ-spreaders. And so sophisticates must mask themselves from the contagious plebs, who must themselves be muzzled – not only to control the virus that they carry, but also to silence their opposition to an unprecedented loss of liberty.
Do masks make any difference to the spread of Covid-19? The masses are told that their masters are following ‘the science’, yet there is little evidence to justify covering up our faces. Most masks are not sold on any pretence of protection.
The miasma theory of disease, which prevailed until the discovery of microbes, retains some relevance. The belief was that infectious diseases are due to foul air. The purpose of masks is to stop aerosol droplets, but people don’t only catch a disease from another person’s cough. Covid-19 is pervasive, and while you may reduce your risk by washing hands, wearing a mask and staying six feet away from strangers, you could yet be infected.
Under current British regulations, you must wear a mask in shops but not in the pub or café. You must wear it on the train unless you are eating or drinking (the edict to take a bottle of water on your journey has returned to the summer theme of station announcements). Isn’t this a little pointless? Public health propaganda bears the message: ‘I wear my mask to protect you. You wear yours to protect me.’ But this simply confirms a lack of confidence in the nasal barrier.
A quick scan of social media reveals a pattern in mask fanaticism. The usual leftie suspects of Owen Jones and the Guardianistas in Britain, the ‘Karens’ in their 40s who think life is following a health and safety manual; in the USA it’s Democrat supporters, ‘deep state’ administrators and young Black Lives Matter activists who think that throwing bottles at police is excused by ‘staying safe’ in a face covering.
Anyway, catching this coronavirus is not as serious as the health authorities and mainstream media suggest. A small minority of people, mostly in old age or with severe comorbidities, gets very ill. But the death toll, while shocking as a total and very sad for the families of the deceased, is not significantly higher than for a bad flu season. While in most years the registering of deaths from influenza is likely to be an underestimate, Covid-19 mortality has been zealously recorded and arguably overestimated.
We are now at the stage of fussing about new cases rather than terrifying ourselves by the latest number who died. Counter-intuitively, the rise in incidence is to be expected, and is not necessarily cause for any alarm. Viruses tend to become milder over time, because to survive they need to be transmitted, and this is done much more efficiently by younger, fitter and more active people. The mortality ratio of Covid-19 is becoming more favourable by the day. Hospital wards set aside for a feared second spike remain empty.
We should learn to live with this coronavirus, and not try to control its natural trajectory.
Let it be personal choice whether to wear a mask or not. And keep politics out of public health: perhaps Brexit voters or free speech campaigners are less likely to wear masks, but that’s because they are critical thinkers, not because they are ‘far right’. Stop Cultural Maskism now.