- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2020

A recent poll from Morning Consult showed 72 percent of Americans say they plan to start wearing face masks in public in the coming couple of weeks.

That’s on top of the 50 percent who said they already always do, and 24 percent who said they already sometimes do.

And for what? In a country of 330 million, the 557,590 or so confirmed cases of coronavirus translates into 0.17 percent of the population. The 22,109 or so reported deaths due to coronavirus translates into 0.007 percent of the population.

For that, we’re going to adopt an Asian cultural identity?

Screw the mask.

First off, let’s realize that face masks, particularly of the homemade variety, are at best, dubious protections against the coronavirus.

Some researchers say the masks are helpful in preventing the spread of the coronavirus; others say they’re not. In the end, it all comes down to a sort of medical shoulder shrug, a “what have you got to lose” type of deal.

“The bottom line, experts say,” Live Science reported, “is that masks might help keep people with COVID-19 from unknowingly passing along the virus. But the evidence for the efficacy of surgical or homemade masks is limited, and masks aren’t the most important protection against the coronavirus.”

Second off, Americans should be outraged at the message the wearing of face masks sends the world.

Wearing a face mask is a sign of collectivism.

It’s a show of fear.

And neither collectivism nor fear belong in America’s government.

“The CDC is now recommending that everyone should wear a cloth face covering when out in public places to protect others in case they are unknowingly infected with the virus,” MedPageToday.com reported a few days ago.

The surgeon general of the United States has recommended similarly.

The White House coronavirus whisperer, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has suggested similarly.

So, too, plenty of others in high places of government — and in some counties, by some local officials and businesses, the recommendation has been made mandatory.

Well, where’s the president’s mask? Where’s Fauci’s? Where’s the surgeon general’s and the vice president’s and all the officials who stand less than 6-social-distancing feet apart at the White House podium, faces free and clear of masks, as they recommend to the rest of America to stand less than 6 feet apart and wear face masks in public?

That the government — that this American government! — would try to herd the masses into the wearing of face masks is egregious enough, considering the Constitution and a country built on rights for the individual, as bestowed by God, not government. That the government — this American government! — would try to do so while hypocritically choosing not to do the same is eyeball-rolling enough.

But more than that, consider why Asians commonly wear face masks.

“If you do not use a face mask in public areas, you will be stigmatized and discriminated against, not just because people would [be] afraid of you as a potential virus-spreader, but [also] it can mean you have low civic responsibility,” said medical anthropologist Judy Yuen-man Siu, in The Atlantic.

The face mask, she went on, has been completely “socialized” in certain regions of China.

How quaint.

It’s kind of like the red belts worn by the communists when they want to show solidarity, when they want to make public expressions of party loyalty, when they want to display their sacrifice of self for the greater good.

That’s not what America is about. America is a place where rights come from God, not government — and where government, particularly hypocritical government — has absolutely no constitutional basis in infringing on those individual rights for some stated purpose of greater good.

It’s one thing for individuals to take it on themselves to wear face masks because they’re fearful. It’s one thing for individuals to decide to wear face masks because they think they’re doing a good Christian duty, or a solid patriotic act, and protecting others.

They’re not really motivated by sound science — but then again, they don’t have to be. It’s their choice.

But it’s entirely another matter for the government of America to recommend the nationwide wearing of face masks over and over and over, until that recommendation filters to one segment of the population after another as a demand and then, ultimately, as a good civic responsibility. As a good civic act of sacrifice for the good comrades in the country.

That’s the point the culture changes.

That’s the point America loses a bit of its identity as a nation of rugged individualists and morphs more Asian, where collectivism rules and government gets the hero worship — not God.

Screw that mask.

“The science on the efficacy of face masks just isn’t there,” The Atlantic wrote.

Americans, quit cowering — particularly for fears that aren’t rational.

Save the hiding for the others of the world. And consider this: If wearing a face mask is a good civic duty, well then, so is the wearing of gloves, so as to perhaps, potentially, maybe protect others from a coronavirus touch. Or so is quitting smoking, so as not to force others to breathe the smoke. Or so is exercising daily, so as not to become a financial drain on the health system.

The Pandora’s Box is large.

For the sake of America, for the fate of our free country — screw that mask.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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