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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

THE WATER CARRIERS: Citizen, where is your mask?

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THE WATER CARRIERS: Citizen, where is your mask?

Introduction: the Usual Incoherence

Unlike so many of the blowhards who infest cyberspace, Rod Dreher has a gift: a verbal adroitness that makes him exquisitely annoying to rational observers of his reason-free, grandstanding polemics against the conservative/traditionalist unwashed by which he has made his name as an Internet sage—that is to say, a shallow demagogue.

Anyone who cares about reasoned arguments based on evidence will feel an irresistible urge to scratch the itch of Dreher’s essentially mindless yet rhetorically effective provocations, if only for the sake of the truth he obscures by skillful agitation of his readers’ viscera. I have scratched that itch before and I do so again respecting his piece “Mask Truthers,” currently discrediting the pages of The American Conservative.

Dreher’s basic argument is that people who decline to enact the suddenly mandatory public ritual of the wearing of assorted masks or “face coverings” by the entire population to “limit the spread” of the Wuhan virus are—what else could they be?—just very bad people whom everyone must loathe: 

Idiots. Selfish idiots. They are given the opportunity to ease back into normal life, by shopping, but they’re not going to do the minimum necessary to help the community be safer. So now business owners and other shoppers are going to be more at risk from the virus, because Rights. Man, that ticks me off. Selfish creeps.”

Note that Dreher is not saying the conservatives he ridicules as “Mask Truthers” should wear masks simply in order to get along with their skittish neighbors, even if the ritual is medically worthless. Rather, he bases his jeremiad on a premise he makes no effort to prove: that the universal wearing of masks of some kind—whatever kind, it doesn’t matter—in fact makes every community “safer” from the virus, so that anyone who declines to slap something or other over his face when doing business is in fact selfishly putting the community “more at risk from the virus.”  dreher quote 1

But even as he fails to demonstrate the premise on which he relies, Dreher incoherently—his polemics are always more or less incoherent—admits that it could be false, thus undermining his own claim that refusal to wear a mask selfishly endangers public health:  “Note well, though, that the mask truthers aren’t refusing to wear masks because they don’t believe they help. That might or might not be true, but it’s a defensible position.” Indeed, Dreher himself notes that this “defensible position” was the very advice the “experts” themselves were giving only weeks ago. But what Dreher doesn’t notice is that this was before the virus was politicized for perpetuation of the Sacred Lockdown as a Democrat-media election strategy for November, as anyone who is not comatose or Rod Dreher can see.  

The “Experts” Declare: Do What We Say, not What We Said

In late 2019 the World Health Organization advised that masks are necessary only for those caring for someone with the virus or those who are coughing and sneezing:

  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.

Even Anthony Fauci, the media darling who can do no wrong, said precisely the same thing on March 8 during an interview with Sixty Minutes, noting that masks can give a false sense of security that could make matters worse because the masks themselves become contaminated from constant touching and fiddling, while the mania for masks could cause a shortage for the few who really need them:

Fauci: The masks are important for someone who’s infected to prevent them from infecting someone else…. Right now, in the United States, people should be not walking around with masks.

Q. You’re sure of it? Because people are listening very closely.

Fauci: Right now, there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little better and even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And often there are unintended consequences. People keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.

Q. And can you get some schmutz [dirt] staying inside of there?

Fauci: Of course. But when you think masks, you should think of health care providers needing them and people who are ill. The people, when you look at the films of foreign countries and you see 85 percent of the people wearing masks, that’s fine. I’m not against it. If you want to do it, that’s fine.

Q. But it can lead to a shortage of masks.

Fauci: That’s the point. It could lead to a shortage of masks for the people who really need them.

Until April 3, Trump’s own Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, was repeating the same common sense advice: “You can increase your risk of getting it by wearing a mask if you are not a health care provider. Folks who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus.”  On February 29, Adams went so far as to publish this Tweet:


Even the CDC was giving the same advice until April 3, recommending some kind of face covering only “if you are sick”—meaning coughing and sneezing—and further warning that: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, medical grade facemasks are reserved for healthcare workers and some first responders. You may need to make a cloth face covering using a scarf or bandana.”

As for the CDC, even Deborah Birx (aka Scarf Lady) is now reportedly complaining that “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust” because it is inflating death numbers and mortality rates based on deaths merely “presumed” or “assumed” to be “related” to COVID-19 without confirmatory testing. According to the CDC, by the first of June, 3,000 people will be dying every day from COVID-19.  Wrong again. Yesterday’s death toll (May 9) was 750 on an already sharply downward slope, even with the inflated statistics of which Birx complains. 

 Everybody, About Face!

But now, says Dreher, we’re supposed to accept unquestioningly a total reversal of “expert” opinion.  Based on what?  According to the Surgeon General, his sudden about-face on April 3 was due to “recent studies” showing that asymptomatic people can transmit the virus to others by coughing, sneezing or speaking. Please! That is true of every viral illness, including the common flu, although the risk of transmission from merely speaking is negligible.  For that reason, public authorities have never imposed economy-destroying lockdowns to “limit the spread” of flu viruses, no matter how lethal, because “neither contact tracing nor isolation of infected people would likely prevent an epidemic. Asymptomatic/presymptomatic spread of infection is a good reason for this.”

Yet, in the span of a few weeks, Americans were told that, in addition to consenting to various unprecedented forms of house arrest, the worst of which are invariably imposed by tyrannical Democrat governors and mayors, they must turn on a dime and embrace the proposition that 320 million people, the healthy as well as the sick, should be required to wear masks in order to go about their business in public—a monumental absurdity without precedent in the history of the world.  

The Lesson of History

Not even during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, which killed more than 675,000 Americans in a population of 104 million and an estimated 50 million worldwide, was any such thing required. The mandatory mask regimes in certain cities, involving what medical science would now view as useless gauze affairs, was most rigorously enforced in San Francisco, an epicenter of the epidemic, where masks were made mandatory only for certain occupations but at first were only “strongly urged” or “strongly recommended” for the general population, as discussed here.

spanish flu 1918A group of mask-wearing Californians during the flu pandemic of 1918. Photo: Niday Picture Library

Even so, San Francisco’s mask ordinance met with fierce resistance, including an Anti-Mask League. The local press—at that time not the lapdog of government—questioned the effectiveness of the measure, with no less than the San Francisco Chronicle declaring that “the compulsory wearing of masks does not affect the progress of the epidemic.” Public opposition to San Francisco’s mask regime was so strong that on February 1, the Mayor:

Proclaimed the mask ordinance rescinded following a meeting of the Board of health, which determined that the epidemic situation had improved enough that the measure was no longer necessary. Without fanfare but relieved to be rid of the masks as well as the epidemic, San Franciscans removed their gauze coverings and went about their business as families, organizations, institutions, and the city slowly pieced back together life as it existed before the plague. 

Another interesting case is the City of Tucson, where a study in The Journal of Arizona History shows that the idea of everyone wearing a mask, borrowed from San Francisco, “was never popular. Few had any faith in it.”  Hence the City’s short-lived mask ordinance was found to be:

Incapable of enforcement. No matter how many citizens the city authorities might have taken to the lock-up, no matter how many fines they imposed, they could never have brought about the general observance of masking. As “soon as the police were out of sight, the mask was dropped below the nose or down on the chin and not adjusted until danger approached.” The city “copied the practice of masking from San Francisco. Some city officer there sent a telegram telling what wonderful results San Francisco obtained from masking, and Tucson fell for it as it falls for every fad.” …

Finally, enough pressure was brought to bear on officials by the press and the public to bring an end to the masking orders. Moreover, by January 1, only two or three cases of Spanish influenza were being reported each day… [T]he sickness passed from Tucson as inexplicably as it had arrived and was soon forgotten."  - Cf. The Journal of Arizona History, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Summer, 1984), pp. 191-204 (available from JSTOR if you have a subscription)

While there were strategic closures of places of amusement and bans on large social gatherings in San Francisco and other large cities, there was nothing like the insane attempt we now see to shut down an entire national economy and confine hundreds of millions of asymptomatic people to their homes under various arbitrary restrictions. And the moderated response in 1918 was in the face of an epidemic ten times deadlier than COVID-19, which claimed tens of millions of primarily youthful victims around the world, including two of the three Fatima seers.

In the America of 1918, the notion that an entire nation of 104 million people must don masks in public before the national economy could be reopened would have been denounced as lunacy. Yet Dreher assumes this lunacy is necessary to make communities “safe from the virus” even though, only weeks ago, the “experts” were saying it wasn’t necessary and might even make people less “safe from the virus.”  

Impugning Motives, Ignoring Evidence

Then again, Dreher admits that skepticism about the value of masks is “a defensible position.”  To say the least! That being so, what is his problem with people who reject the wearing of masks as a stupid and pointless ritual imposed by the same “experts” and overreaching government officials who contradict themselves and have been proven wrong about everything else concerning this virus?  The problem is not these people. The problem is Dreher’s cheap polemics.

dreher quote 4

Dreher is not interested in rational discourse; that requires too much work.  His aim, as always, is to attribute pathology to people with whom he disagrees. Facile mockery is his métier.  And so, he writes, the “Mask Truthers” are “refusing to wear masks because they see them as a symbol of social control.” Not to be considered are their rational objections to social control in the form of a compulsory mask regime the “experts” themselves rejected only days ago. No, the objectors can only be seen as mindless ideologues. Referring to the widespread rejection of masks in Stillwater, Oklahoma, resulting in an amendment of the city’s “emergency” mask ordinance to make masks optional, Dreher characterizes the opposition as “thugs” and concludes: “It’s hard to deny that many conservatives have reacted to Covid-19 more out of ideology than fact. That’s exactly what these Stillwater people have done: opposing wearing masks on ideological principle.”

But what makes opposing masks an “ideological” stance as opposed to an entirely rational refusal to submit to the irrational dictates of unreliable “experts,” bureaucratic incompetents and tyrannical Democrat governors who deem liquor stores, pet stores and marijuana dispensaries “essential businesses” while declaring that “mass gatherings” for the worship of God are forbidden? Dreher has no serious answer. 

Impugning motives instead of examining the evidence, Dreher cites studies by sociologists who conclude that conservatives are less concerned than liberals about the virus “Because a threatening disease might validate government interventions that conservatives dislike” so that “conservatives appear motivated to downplay the severity.” Whereas “because a threatening disease might validate government interventions that liberals do like, liberals seem motivated to magnify the threat.”rod dreher tom cartoon

Dreher makes no effort to assess the merits of conservative claims that the  unprecedented lockdown regime was a totally unwarranted sociopolitical debacle that has wrecked a nation and should be abandoned immediately, as even the resolutely moderate Brit Hume has all but admitted: “I think it’s time to consider the possibility, Shannon, that this lockdown – as opposed to the more moderate mitigation efforts – is a colossal public policy calamity.”  Those more moderate mitigation efforts would involve quarantining the sick, avoiding crowds if you are vulnerable, and washing your hands before touching your face, as opposed to preposterous attempts to place the entire country under quasi-house arrest.  Hume was right to say that he sees little evidence that the Great National Lockdown is “making any difference at all.”

Citing the same sociologists, Dreher asserts that “the more actual experience conservatives have with Covid-19, the more likely they are to take it seriously as a threat.” Is that so, Mr. Dreher? And how would you know, beyond your perusal of the views of some sociologists? 

As Remnant readers who have followed my series on what is rightly now being dubbed the “Scamdemic” will know, I have had plenty of experience with the virus, which my own father contracted before he died in hospice care eight days ago (May 3). It wasn’t the virus that killed him, Mr. Dreher, but the criminally negligent lockdown of his Veterans’ nursing home in NJ. For more than a month, my sister was barred from supplying him daily with the extra water he needed to avoid the dehydration that had almost killed him twice before the Wuhan virus showed up.  Only when he was on the verge of death from dehydration were my sister and I allowed to see him in the “COVID ward.” Suddenly, fear of spreading the virus no longer mattered, so long as we were willing to don masks and gowns.  But then, why not before, when there was still time to give my poor father an extra drink of water?  

When we saw my father’s condition and protested that he was dying for lack of water, he was admitted to a nearby hospital for dehydration, not COVID-19, for which he was never intubated and needed only supplemental oxygen like that supplied to Boris Johnson before his recovery. After my father’s kidneys, not his lungs, failed, my sister and I spent day after day in his room, watching him die slowly for lack of the water his kidneys could no longer process and would have caused death by congestive heart failure if the IV had been continued.

It was a COVID-19 lockdown that killed my father, Mr. Dreher, just as it has killed thousands of the frail elderly in New Jersey and New York, locked away in nursing homes and cut off from all family support and advocacy, only to have their names added to the statistics for “COVID deaths.”  (I learned of one rabbi in New York City whose death was attributed to COVID but in whose pocket was found a note declaring that dehydration and lack of food, not the virus, had killed him.)

And as far as the nonsensical “stay at home” directives are concerned, the nauseating Andrew Cuomo, King of Kings in the Kingdom of COVID, has just admitted (May 6) his surprise at learning that sixty-six percent of “recently hospitalized coronavirus patients in New York are people who have followed the precaution of staying home.” Locked into their homes for no good reason, they caught the virus anyway from younger relatives who lived with them or visitors, just as they would have caught the flu—if, in fact, it was not the flu they caught in the first place. We will never really know for certain. Then these poor souls were locked into hospitals, where many of them didn’t have a chance because they were the victims of criminal neglect, as this whistleblower nurse has revealed: “These people aren’t dying of COVID,” she saiddreher quote 3

And it was Cuomo whose own policyrequired nursing homes to take in residents with coronavirus, and explicitly permitted actively contagious COVID patients to work at those facilities, for months. Now here’s Cuomo swooping in to clean up his mess, pretending like it’s the nursing homes’ fault that they were following state guidance all along.” King Cuomo’s policy guaranteed mass outbreaks and thousands of deaths among the trapped residents, all very elderly people with comorbidities who comprise the overwhelming majority of the victims of this virus, which even Birx is now describing as an “influenza-like illness.”

Dreher seems to have no inkling of the criminal nonsense that is being passed off as public health and safety measures in the midst of this epidemic, which is really just a bad flu that has been hyped by a maniacal, anti-Trump press into a world-ending plague that would have killed four times as many people as the Spanish flu unless the entire country were locked down. The same quack who made that prediction, Neil Ferguson, whose patently ridiculous “model” was the basis for public policy decisions here as well as in the UK, has just been forced to resign from his government post “after the Telegraph newspaper revealed he broke the lockdown rules he helped shape by allowing his reported lover to visit his home.”  We can be quite certain they were not wearing the masks Ferguson and the other Lords of the Lockdown have prescribed for the rest of the world. 

Nor was a mask to be seen on Chris Cuomo, brother of Andrew and CNN’s fervid lockdown advocate, when he violated his own fake quarantine in the basement of his second home in the Hamptons, only to end up berating a passing cyclist who dared to confront him thus: “Your brother is the coronavirus czar, and you’re not even following his rules — unnecessary travel.” To which the iron-pumping boob replied: “Who the hell are you?! I can do what I want!...  I’ll find out who you are! This is not the end of this. You’ll deal with this later. We will meet again.”

The Apotheosis of The Mask

In the face of all this, Dreher wastes nearly 3,000 words on his depiction of conservatives as ideologues who have no good reason to reject the stupid masks and the equally stupid “social distancing” that none of the elites who prescribe these things for the rest of us are practicing when nobody is looking. While admitting en passant that liberal ideology is also at work in the media-enabled lockdown regime, citing Hannah Arendt, Dreher posits a false equivalence to conservative opponents of the lockdown as “the kinds of men that brought totalitarianism to Russia and Germany.”

What in heaven’s name is the man prattling on about?  Dreher’s oxymoronic depiction of conservatives as totalitarians because they oppose totalitarianism reminds me of the depiction of traditionalists as Protestants because they oppose the Protestantization of the Church.  Dreher thus provides cover for the real totalitarians on the American Left, who are laboring to burn to the ground whatever is left of the national economy by inventing one precondition after another for the Grand Reopening they devoutly hope will never happen.

Hence the media jackals, who have never worn masks during the White House coronavirus press briefings, suddenly (May 11) “began wearing masks in unison after Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary was tested positive for the virus. Notably, prominent television reporters began wearing masks on camera on Friday, which they had previously avoided.” The sight and sound of their usual moronic questions being muffled by assorted cloth coverings has elevated this endless farce to new heights of absurdity.

But the media know that The Mask is the thing, because if everyone must now wear The Mask in public, Americans will always be reminded of the fear that will keep the Sacred Lockdown alive in hearts and minds, suppressing normal social and economic activity even after the virus disappears. 

Conclusion: Dangerous Babbling

Blind to the real ideology that is destroying a nation, Dreher swallows whole the quintessentially ideological Gates Foundation narrative of “no return to normal without a vaccine” when a vaccine will probably never materialize: “Letting people go out and shop and open businesses and do work while wearing masks seems like a commonsense compromise to me on the way to returning to something like normal (which we’re not going to have anyway until there’s a vaccine, or we have herd immunity, the latter of which is at least two years away).” 

How does Dreher know that herd immunity is two years away rather than present already?  A “group of experts” at the University of  Minnesota assure him that this is the case. The same “experts” predicted 22,000 deaths in the state from COVID-19. Thus far there have been 591 deaths “related” to COVID-19 in Minnesota. Yet the state’s Democrat governor has placed the entire state under house arrest until he says otherwise. According to the same University of Minnesota, almost four times as many Minnesotans died from influenza in 2019.

Such bothersome facts are no concern to Dreher. For him it’s all very simple: If everyone will just wear a mask or a bandana or something over his face, then we can begin to think of being free, someday, from the restraints our benevolent leaders have placed upon us to save us from “a deadly pandemic.” But no! Those selfish conservatives think “wearing a mask is like asking early Christians to burn a pinch of incense to Caesar.” Dreher asks: “What kind of bizarre deity is it that makes it blasphemous to put on a face mask amid a deadly pandemic, because it’s a symbol of government control? It’s a right-wing version of the left-wing deity who instantiates a metaphysics enabling its devotees to proclaim [male sexual organs] on a self-proclaimed woman to be a fleshy form of fiction, and anyone who denies that is an enemy of the people.”dreher quote 2

Yes, upon reading something like this, it would be easy to dismiss Dreher as just another Internet babbler in love with his own pseudo-profundity.  But, given Dreher’s large following, this kind of mumbo-jumbo is taken seriously by far too many people to be left unanswered.  We are in the midst of a struggle to unravel a tyranny imposed on the pretext of a virus, a tyranny whose emblem Dreher insists we wear even if it does no earthly good and even if he admits it might do no earthly good.  Nevertheless, he demands: Citizen, where is your mask? The dutiful exponent of our ruinous subjection to the arbitrary exercise of power does not see that behind The Mask is an ocean of unreason he himself exemplifies when he denounces, not its proponents, who seek to fasten The Mask upon every living person, but those see it for what it is. 

It is The Mask, not opposition to its forcible imposition by government, that is the sign and symbol of an ideology at work—an ideology that declares with diabolical audacity that “every life is precious” in order, via the Lockdown, to advance the Democrats’ political aim of dispensing with every life that is inconvenient, from the abortion mills to the nursing homes where the COVID-19 lockdowns are just another form of euthanasia.  We can see that Trump is attempting to escape the narrative Dreher defends, but his own cooperation with it until now has given Dreher and his fellow fake conservatives cover for a demagogic attack on the truly conservative opposition to the madness behind The Mask. Can Trump, can the nation, survive his dance with the devil?  We will have our answer very soon.

How fitting that a good friend has sent me, just as I was concluding this piece, news of a South Korean study, published in the prestigious journal Annals of Internal Medicine, which confirms what reason had long ago made obvious: that the virus particles are much smaller than the pores in the masks that people are told they must wear by the government, the media, and stooges like Dreher.  The study examined, not something as plainly useless and ridiculous as a bandana, but triple-layered surgical masks and double-layered dental masks.

The study concluded that “Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS–CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients” and that “both surgical and cotton masks seem to be ineffective in preventing the dissemination of SARS–CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19 to the environment and external mask surface.” That is, the masks not only fail to protect bystanders from coughing and sneezing, they are themselves a source of viral contamination. Which brings us back to the original advice not to use them.

A triumph of science and common sense over ideology.  Including Dreher’s ideology, which he seems not to have noticed while projecting his ideological motives onto others.  It is a sobering testament to the malignity of the Internet that such a narrow mind can gain such wide exposure.

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Last modified on Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.