Talk about being triggered. Boris Johnson’s press conference on Monday sent #wearamask Twitter into a hyperbolic meltdown of epic proportions. The PM announced that the public would have independence from burdensome domestic Covid restrictions- which were supposed to have lasted for only three weeks but instead have lasted for sixteen months- on 19 July 19, with confirmation of this coming on July 12.
The relaxing of restrictions had been foreshadowed in an article in the Mail on Sunday by the new UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid, in which he said Britain would need to learn to live with Covid. While we should all remain cynical about what the government may have planned for the autumn, Javid declared –rightly, in my view– that opening the country up would actually make us healthier, physically and mentally. Cue the most incredible Twitter meltdown ever seen.
What the government was proposing was ‘genocide.’ “Why are the British people accepting this? We need to close borders, effective test and trace, social distancing (through bi-weekly remote and in person education) in schools, masks indoors, work from home and vacs until infections are really low. Then re-cover (sic), slowly” opined one Tweeter ironically with the moniker ‘Freedom.’
Citing Orwell (again, who said satire was dead?), the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr tweeted “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Health is the deliberate mass infection of an entire nation’s children with a novel & mutating virus with unknown long-term consequences.”
The hashtag #WearAMask was trending with a whole succession of self-righteous virtue signallers telling the world that they would continue to mask up after July 19, whatever the government announced. Repeat after Me: People who wear masks are Good People, People who don’t are Bad People (and probably supporters of Brexit and Donald Trump).
“The thing about mask wearing is it protects others more than you” declared Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who piously informed us she’d continue to wear a mask indoors after July 19. As if we had to know. The Liberal Democrat-supporting author Emma Kennedy tweeted: “In a nutshell, post July 29 there will be people prepared to wear masks because they care about other people. And those who don’t. And that’s it, isn’t it.”
When I replied by saying that that wasn’t it –and asked her for evidence that masks work– she blocked me. Nothing like a nice dose of illiberal liberalism on a Sunday evening after your roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and rhubarb crumble. Oh, and, by the way, Emma, the date in question was July 19, not the 29th.
Everywhere there were the inevitable but utterly ludicrous analogies between mask wearing and road safety. Comedian David Schneider responded to Sajid Javid’s tweet saying “we are going to have to learn to live with Covid- just as we already do with flu” by tweeting: “’We are going to remove all traffic lights, road markings, speed limits and seat belts. We’re going to have to learn to live with car crashes’ – Sajid Javid.”
Oh, how edgy! Because not wearing a face mask in mid-summer for a seasonal upper respiratory tract virus is just like driving at 130mph on the motorway and speeding through red lights on the High Street.
What Sunday proved is that The Cult of Covid has become a new, secular religion in a country where ironically enough sneering at older established religions is considered the height of cool. The suggestion that masks – the very visible sign of true believers in the cult – might no longer be mandatory in two weeks’ time, has caused a lot of people to lose it big time. It really has been embarrassing to witness.
The Maskists take it as an article of faith that masks save lives. They forget the statements made by government scientists in March/April last year advising AGAINST wearing them. They ignore the rather inconvenient ‘real world’ fact that countries which didn’t mandate face coverings – like the previously well-regarded, ‘politically correct’ EU member-state Sweden, have had much better Covid outcomes than many countries which did. Prior to March 2020 the predominantly hard-core pro-Remain mask zealots would have lauded Sweden. Now it doesn’t exist for them. Neither do the US states which have scrapped restrictions without any spikes in cases or deaths.
The ‘progressive’ Labour Party which is supposed to (no sniggering at the back), represent the workers, reacted to Javid’s article by calling for “the scientific evidence” to be presented before the government lifted restrictions. Did the Labour Party call for the ‘scientific evidence’ (as opposed to dodgy ‘modelling’), to be presented before previous government lockdowns? If they did, I must have missed it.
What a country Britain has become these past 16 months. Calm, rational analysis, stiff upper-lip and balanced risk assessment has been replaced by bed-wetting hysteria and hyperbole. Proper science – which is politically impartial – has been replaced by the views of activist scientists pushing political agendas. Group-think and virtue signalling dominate and have replaced do-it-yourself critical thinking for a lot of people.
Don’t be gaslit, or intimidated, by the oh-so-virtuous bossy ones with the loud voices. Masks and social distancing are not normal. Yet we are encouraged to see those who simply want life, as it was lived in Britain for hundreds of years, prior to March 2020, to return, as crazy, selfish libertarians. Everything is upside down. Extremists who want us to wear masks and socially distance from our fellow human beings forever are billed as ‘sensible moderates’ who ‘care about people’ but, in truth, they are constructing an anti-social hell on earth where life would, after a while, simply not be worth living.
People need people. We need to see other people’s faces, to see them smile and see them laugh. We need to be able to freely meet fellow human beings, to hug and to kiss them, to dance with them, to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ with them on New Year’s Eve and enjoy life to the full. Yet it appears some individuals – we used to call them misanthropes – don’t want this life-enhancing freedom, or at least not for others. In his classic work ‘Escape from Freedom’, Dr Erich Fromm, who fled the Nazis, analysed why authoritarianism had appeal. Freedom for some can be frightening – especially when the government itself is setting out to terrify the population. But when people seek to escape from freedom the danger is they turn to fascism or other forms of totalitarian rule. It’s not ‘only a face mask’. It is a dehumanising symbol of control. One that some, rather disturbingly, seem most upset about losing.
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