Its Time To Stop Politicizing Face Masks
It’s a matter of safety…not freedom!
A few months ago, the world was hit with a devastating virus and many of us were thrown into lockdown as countries attempted to fight the pandemic and reduce the spread of Covid-19. Now that we are beginning to venture out of our homes and back to work, it is recommended, or in some cases enforced that we wear protective face masks to help keep us safe. But despite the huge risk decrease provided by wearing a face mask in public, it is becoming an issue of freedom of choice and expression as people begin politicizing the now stigmatized form of protection.
Social media platforms have lit up with controversy over wearing a mask in public, with videos of various Karens refusing to wear them in shops and on public transport with many of them arguing “health risks” and “freedom of choice”. Such ideology has not been restricted to mums on the internet either. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, President Donald Trump reportedly argued the belief that some people are just wearing face masks to undermine him, rather than as a safety measure against the spreading of the virus.
When this Karen in Dallas, Texas, was asked to wear her mask at the supermarket - she lost it and then lost all her food! She literally started chucking it everywhere! They better make her pay for this! White people, you need to control your rage! pic.twitter.com/kI2RkAQtgh— Perez (@ThePerezHilton) June 28, 2020
This Trader Joe’s Karen is lying. No real doctor would tell a patient not to wear a mask during COVID-19. Even those with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory conditions should wear a mask in public. It won’t interfere with your breathing. It’ll save lives. pic.twitter.com/xDa9frgSJU— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 27, 2020
For the most part, these arguments against wearing a face mask are often centered around the notion of stripped freedom and a right to expression. But this reasoning discounts the severity of the situation entirely. By politicizing a health and safety mandate, we run the risk of desensitizing people to the issue. Such actions attempt to shift the concern of the general public from staying safe during a pandemic to whether or not wearing PPE conforms with their right to freedom. There may be many motivations behind why people choose to wear or not wear masks but that does not change the statistics supporting a mask's ability to lower the risk of transmission. This means that wearing a mask is the easiest way to protect ourselves and others and conforming with such obligations will only help to eventually bring back a mask free existence for us all. So instead of worrying about our right not to wear a mask, we must consider those people who have no choice and make a decision that secures the safety of us all as we attempt to navigate life post lockdown.