As troubling as it is that there seem to be so many people in America who refuse to wear masks out in public, a recent incident between Trump supporters and reporters in Arizona took this anti-mask sentiment a step farther.
A Twitter thread from Arizona Republic reporter BrieAnna J. Frank detailed the harassment she and other journalists received this week for wearing masks…outside of a mask-making factory.
Frank and her colleagues were waiting outside of a Honeywell factory where President Trump was to be given a tour to see how the N95 mask making was coming along. Some of Trump’s supporters were also gathered outside, and, according to Frank, soon began berating anyone there wearing masks.
“One man says: ‘It’s submission, it’s muzzling yourself, it looks weak — especially for men,’” she wrote. “We’re being accused of fear-mongering, not knowing anything + being ‘pieces of sh*t.’”
Unsurprisingly, Frank says that her experience soon devolved into misogyny.
The reporters were also accused of being “like communists.”
President Trump has long preached to his supporters that the mainstream media is the enemy, and it’s obvious that the people waiting to cheer him on outside Honeywell had fully internalized that point of view.
“You’re on the wrong side of history,” one maskless person yelled at the journalists. Frank also shared a recording of a woman berating them for pushing a “fake narrative,” seeming to suggest that COVID-19 and the need to take precautions against spreading it are all part of a media conspiracy.
The same woman also claimed that the U.S. Surgeon General advised against wearing masks, a stance he changed in early April after the CDC began recommending masks in public.
Wearing a mask is not currently required in Arizona.
But it has been recommended by Arizona health officials as of late April.
“What they are finding in the data is that people can be spreading the virus up to two days before they start showing symptoms,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director for the Arizona Department of Health Services. “So there’s that asymptomatic spread. If you wear a mask when you are out in public, you are less likely to expose others.”
Many protests against social distancing, business closures, and mask requirements throughout the country have revolved around the ideas of freedom and choice. So for the people choosing not to wear masks to turn around and berate people who choose to do so feels like a rather hypocritical hill to die on to some observers.
But there were a lot of bizarre things about the entire encounter.
Mostly, everyone is just tired of these extremists.
Even if you think wearing masks is stupid (note: science would like to inform you that you are wrong), the people who choose to wear them ultimately are doing so with a view towards protecting others, not protecting themselves. So to call that intent “weak” is certainly a choice. And maybe one to reconsider.