Mask Jacobinism Runs Rampant

I have seen no evidence that mask mandates have any discernible impact on the rate of spread of the coronavirus, let alone on its ultimate impact, which is a completely different question. Nevertheless, mask wearing has been adopted by a large segment of our society as the ultimate moral marker. Those who don’t wear masks, many allege, are endangering public safety. And informal Committees of Public Safety are all around us.

A case in point is the gala organized by the Young Republicans of New York, which took place last night. It originally was scheduled for a venue in New York, but moved to an undisclosed location in New Jersey due to threats of violence from a fascist group, Antifa. The gathering was of modest size, apparently somewhat more than 100. This was the invitation:

It seems to have been a good party. A number of participants posted photos on social media, for example:

When word got out, the reaction from the Left was insane. OMG!! No masks!! New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy did this over-the-top Facebook post:

The comments by liberals on Murphy’s post fall just short of demanding guillotines:

They need to go to jail for endangering the health and welfare of all of us.
Real classy GOP – endangering the lives of New Jerseyans. Thank you Governor for calling them out.
It is beyond the pale that anyone would willingly endanger people — anywhere! Arrest and charge every single person who was there.
Matt Gaetz looks and sounds like an entitled frat bro. I hope the organizers are arrested. Our virus numbers are higher than ever. So irresponsible.

There is no evidence that anyone at the gala had COVID, or if so, that anyone contracted it there. Given that COVID transmission is rampant all across the country, regardless of mask mandates and shutdowns, and that Democratic Party politicians disregard their own mask mandates on a daily basis, it is hard to understand the vituperation being directed against this particular party. From a quick review, it isn’t even clear to me whether the gala violated any “law” in New Jersey, which permits political events up to 150 people.

But that is a relatively minor point. The totalitarian impulse has been loosed, and a dismaying number of Americans are on board with it. Californians are now ordered to wear masks in their homes and cars, which is stupid on any interpretation of the data. They also are forbidden to leave their homes to, for example, walk their dogs. On the other hand, there are lots of exceptions. For a “critical” activity–like participating in a podcast–you can go out. In other words, peons stay home.

I grew up in a time when everyone took it for granted that America was a liberty-loving country. If one kid tried to boss around another kid on a playground, the standard reply was: “It’s a free country!” I doubt that our children say that anymore. We are divided 50/50: half of us want America to be a free country, and half of us don’t. How we can manage to coexist is an open question.

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