“Forcing us to wear masks is tyranny”

The scene takes place shortly before Trump’s meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20. A huge armored pickup truck, clad in American flags and acronyms Infowars, the conspiratorial media of the paleo-conservative Alex Jones, parades through the streets around the room where the American president is to make his comeback in the countryside, after a suspension of several months due to the coronavirus pandemic. A guy wearing a cowboy hat came out to the size of the sun roof of the vehicle: “Trump 2020! he bellowed at the microphone. Stop with the masks! If you wear a mask, you are a clown in my eyes. He calls out to a passerby: “Hey man, why are you wearing a mask? Do you trust Joe Biden or are you a free man? Then, pointing to a television crew, “Look, the liberal media is forcing reporters to wear masks, that’s ridiculous. “He resumed his litany:” We will not obey, we are free Americans! We don’t need the government to tell us what to be afraid of, or what to wear. This is not a communist country! “

“It’s tyranny”

Beyond the show, the guy at the microphone sums up what many Trump supporters think: wearing a mask to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 would be an act of “submission”, “docility”, ” weakness “. The obligation to wear it “violates the individual freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution,” repeat supporters of the head of state. Others question the effectiveness of the masks, or the dangerousness of the disease itself. See it as a “plot” hatched by Democrats and the media, to “tarnish the president’s record”. Like the overwhelming majority of pro-Trumps met at his rally, Shanda, from Oklahoma City, refuses to wear a mask: “I work at the post office, I meet hundreds of people every day, I go shopping … No one in my family was sick. I don’t believe in this virus. Forcing us to wear masks is tyranny. “

The health authorities’ about-face in the first weeks of the pandemic on the issue – first of all not advising the Americans to hide themselves, in particular to try to avoid a shortage for caregivers, then say the reverse – did not help. The patchwork of laws in place, either: the wearing of a mask is only a recommendation, adopted in April at the federal level. In the absence of a national obligation, only half of the federated states have imposed the obligation to wear a mask in public. Despite the consensus of scientific research on the subject, nothing helps: the mask has become an ideological symbol, a marker in the cultural war raging in the United States since the advent of Donald Trump. These refractories even have a name, “ anti-maskers “, And fall into a category that the media calls” coronavirus contrarians To denote the skeptics of the disease.

The issue of wearing a protective mask and, more broadly, the perception of COVID-19 very clearly follow the partisan lines. According to a Pew Research Center study released in late June, 63% of Democratic voters believe that masks should always be worn in public, compared to only 29% of Republican voters. The least inclined to wear a mask, according to the Pew’s study, are conservative Republicans. Unlike progressive Democrats, on the other end of the spectrum.

” Crime against humanity “

The evolution of the epidemiological situation, while the country records new cases almost every day, has not changed anything. Spared for a long time, when the coasts and the big democratic cities saw their hospitals saturated and the curve of deaths panic, the Trumpet lands are now the most affected by the disease. Since the end of May, 75% of new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in states won by the republican billionaire in 2016. Meanwhile, from Florida to Texas, the governors reopened their economy by forceps, starting in May . But faced with the outbreak of the epidemic, even the most refractory had to turn upside down. Like Texas governor Greg Abbott, who made it mandatory to wear the mask in public in counties with at least 20 cases on Thursday. Not only had he refused so far to do it for his state, but he had also prevented the authorities of certain counties, more proactive and worried, from doing it at the local level.

In Michigan in early May, a store security guard was shot dead by a customer who asked him to wear a mask. Videos of angry unmasked customers emptying their carts of rage in supermarkets are regularly shared on social media. Like those ofanti-maskers speaking at public meetings in California or Florida counties, which were about to vote to wear the mandatory mask. They accuse local authorities of wanting to “muzzle them like rabid dogs”, to “regulate human breathing”, to obey “satanic laws” or even to commit a “crime against humanity”. Wearing the mask “literally kills people,” said a resident of Palm Beach, Florida. The Sunshine State is experiencing a more than 600% increase in new cases in a month, with a new record recorded on Saturday (more than 11,400 cases in 24 hours). But while some counties have made the decision, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, still refuses to force voters across the state to cover his nose and mouth. Despite calls from local Democrats, who insisted in a letter to the governor on Friday that wearing the mask should not be “a partisan issue”.

“Close to anyone”

It must be said that at the top of the pyramid, there is one that does not show the example. Donald Trump stubbornly refused to wear a mask in public (even during a factory visit … making masks). They were not obligatory during his rally in Tulsa, in a megachurch in Arizona where he made a speech at the end of June, or at the foot of Mount Rushmore on Friday. In April, the president said he would not follow the health authorities’ recommendation, suggesting that it was improper for a commander-in-chief to wear a mask, especially when meeting with counterparts. His Democratic rival for the November presidential election, former vice-president Joe Biden, scrupulously respects health directives, announced that he would not organize electoral rallies before the presidential election and never goes out without his mask – in May, he even wore one on his Twitter profile photo.

Faced with the contamination records observed these days, the American president had to make a first concession, rhetoric in any case. “I am completely in favor of the masks,” he said in an interview on Thursday. If I was in a tight place with people, I would wear one, absolutely. “When there is no one around, I see no reason to wear one,” he said in another interview, however. Several assistants had to be found positive for the coronavirus for the White House to require the wearing of a mask for its employees in May. But not for Trump. “In my case, I am not close to anyone,” he argued, recalling that he is, like the members of his entourage, regularly tested. Friday night, the Trump campaign team announced that Kimberly Guilfoyle, the companion of Donald Trump Jr, the president’s eldest son, responsible for raising funds for his re-election, had been declared positive to COVID-19.

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