Neurotic America: Masks Today, Masks Tomorrow, Masks Forever

Anumber of retail chains announced last week they are not requiring fully vaccinated customers to wears masks in their stores. Not everyone was happy to hear the liberating news, though. Our country, once a bulwark of the strong and daring, is becoming a land of the fainthearted.

Minutes after The Hill tweeted Friday that Trader Joe’s was no longer demanding that its customers self-suffocate, at least those who’ve been fully vaccinated, the scolds and skittish school marms took their shots before running to hide under their beds.

“Not good,” said one, without explaining why it’s not good.

Other responses included: “I’ve only been there once and it looks like it will be my only time for a while,” and “I will not be going to #TraderJoes 4 a long time.” Many concurred: They’ll also avoid Trader Joe’s. One commenter said he doesn’t know if he’ll ever go back again. All that was missing was Joe Biden calling Trader Joe’s executives Neanderthals and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank claiming the stores are “America’s No. 1 Death Destination.”

Certainly everyone is free to express their opinions about masks, and everyone is also free to decide to shop elsewhere if they don’t like the Trader Joe’s policy. Yet the response concerns us. Will enough Nervous Nancies and Timorous Toms boycott Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Costco and others that have liberalized their mask policies to force the companies to backtrack on their decisions (which will help restore the humanity dignity that was ripped away by mask rules)? Will they actively picket in front of stores in an effort to bully executives into yielding to their neuroses, fixations, and superstitions?

More than that, though, we are troubled by what this tells about America has become. The coronavirus pandemic revealed in stark terms a truth about this country that many of us have long suspected. We’ve grown soft, fearful, perpetually nagging and paralyzed by safetyism. Our prosperity has allowed many of us to feed our eccentricities and disorders, taking us down dark alleys and through doors that lead to grand halls of odd behavior.

(For example, one late pop star’s wealth enabled him to create a fantasy world around his life and to change his appearance in bizarre ways. Had his life been an exercise in basic subsistence, he would not have been able to afford to accommodate the quirks of his personality.)

To see just how deep this nation has plunged into a rancid broth of fear, take a look at this STAT-Harris poll taken after last fall’s election. It found that 75% of the public supported the idea of Joe Biden mandating mask-wearing, while two-thirds of Americans thought he “should ban gatherings involving more than 10 people.”

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