This Mask Shit Is Ableist AF


Do I need to say more than that?

Yesterday, some Trumpkin in a judge’s robe gave the death blow to the CDC’s mask mandate for public transit. This includes planes, trains, and publicly shared automobiles like Uber and Lyft. Within minutes, companies jumped on board and removed the requirements, Delta even announcing that in its omnipotent authority, COVID had officially transitioned to a seasonal, run of the mill cold bug.

(Newsflash: the CEO of Delta Airlines has zero fucking qualifications to make that call… we are still very much in a pandemic; you don’t get to just declare that shit over because you feel like it one day. But I digress…)

Naturally, the true ghouls of the United States celebrated en masse. Within an hour, I saw copious amounts of videos go viral on the Internet, of airline pilots announcing over the loudspeaker that people could oft their face coverings mid-flight; and celebratory chants went wild as flight attendants walked through the aisles of packed-in passengers, holding trash bags so that these oppressed people, woefully miserable with thin strips of covering over their gentile and delicate faces, could trash the vestiges of pure authoritarianism once and for all.

You ghoulish cowards. You make me sick.

Here’s the thing about the masks, which I guess more than two years into this y’all still don’t get: the mask is not to keep you safe, necessarily. It’s to protect the vulnerable around you. I thought everyone got this around the time Biden was elected but then what hit me like a brick were all the Democrats that also ripped their masks off and raw dogged the air like the GQPers that thought it was some sort of grand scheme to restrict their freedoms. And today, when asked if people should continue to wear masks on public transportation, Biden said “that’s up to them.”

That’s up to them.

You can still get and transmit COVID even if you are vaccinated or boosted. With the variants of sublineages, it is now the most transmissible virus in recorded human history. There are people that cannot be vaccinated too, like little kids and people with severely compromised immune systems may as well not be vaccinated even when they are. The shots plum don’t work on them.

We all get it: you feel protected. I even feel protected, but the bottom line is that there are people that do not. That isn’t their fear; it is not their rationality hedging on thin ice. It’s their own situation, and it is just as valid and worthy of protection or care as everyone else’s.

Imagine a kid that needs to get chemotherapy across town, and his parents are too poor to afford a car to get him there. The medical bills are too much. That kid deserves to have everyone on public transit masked. For him.

Imagine a father of five who had a kidney transplant due to a rare disease as a child. He’s immunocompromised and still has to fly for work. He can’t just phone it in or work at home. That man and his family deserve everyone on that plane masked.

Imagine a child with cancer traveling Amtrak for her Make a Wish, or across the country to get to Saint Jude’s for treatment. That kid deserves everyone on that train masked.

Of course we all should not ignore the proximity of this to people booking their travel for summer vacations, as well as Midterm elections – where the Democrats and Biden in particular are polling so poorly, it’s a little shocking. At the same time, though, is it really? When you make very specific commitments and are elected on those, and then you fail to follow through on them – preferring to bait and switch with a different, arguably neoliberal and rigidly corporation-focused, agenda, this is the result.

But to the masks…

It’s such a simple thing to do for other people, and not being willing to do so speaks volumes about people – either they don’t care what people think, or they’re too stupid to understand what they’re doing to the fabric of their community. Community is not all about you, so this individualistic approach doesn’t fly. I know that when I, and others I have spoken to, see people unmasked indoors in high risk situations, it’s like a neon sign is blinking over the person’s head saying “I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK ABOUT ANYONE BUT MYSELF.”

It’s narcissistic and albeit as fuck, all wrapped up in one.

The worst comments I see on the Internet are the ones that justify the deaths of the vulnerable by saying “well they were almost dead anyway.” No. They weren’t. If it weren’t for COVID, they would still be here, and many more will die unnecessarily for that same reason. It’s fucked up, genocidal in fact, to talk like that about other people. I’ve heard it in person too: early in the pandemic, our neighbors were talking unmasked, and one quipped “shouldn’t we mask up.” The other – a doctor, at the local hospital – said “hey as I see it, the people that are going down with this ship were already headed there anyway.”

A fucking doctor. What a nightmare this country has become.

There has to be some middle ground between COVID Zero and COVID is King. But in this increasingly polarized country, is that even possible anymore?

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