Walking around without a mask makes you a celebrity.
A mostly hated celebrity, perhaps — a Howard Stern or Alex Jones — but a celebrity nonetheless. Those who loathe your bare face elevate you to this new and important status, and those who also walk unbridled in public, vaxxed or not, breathing bareback, they taste the same tea of freedom and fame. They share your views, and you know they do, because when you pass each other you nod the nod of an underground brotherhood.
But who are we kidding. This isn’t new. Even before the bright red MAGA hats there were signs. Conservatives may not be as garish as our political counterparts, whose bright hair and facial piercings are like the poison dart frogs of South America, signaling their toxicity to larger predators, but we are identifiable nonetheless.
There are plenty of ways to spot a conservative, and if you weren’t consciously aware of the signs before, consider this an education.
The American flag used to be apolitical, but then one party started praising Islamists who burned it, immigrants who tagged it with Nazi symbols, and athletes who knelt and hung their heads when it was honored during the National Anthem.
At some point between Obama and Trump, hanging an American flag outside your house became a Conservative symbol. On my street, there are the bear gays (self-titled, so it’s not offensive), who don a bacon and eggs flag; the ghost-white vegans and Leftists, who don no flag; and the six houses whose owners proudly fly the Red, White, and Blue.
We know each other, we barbecue meat and play corn hole on weekends, and we lament the rise of Leftism in America.
Upfront columnist Joline Gutierrez Krueger said the quiet part out loud when she admitted on the front page of The Albuquerque Journal her fear of being mistaken for a Conservative in public. Abandoning the “follow the science” mantra Leftists chanted until the CDC’s guidance prevented them from virtue signaling, and despite being vaccinated, she masks nonetheless.
Gutierrez Krueger quoted a friend who said:
“I will continue to mask in public and social distance because the vaccine can protect me from COVID, but it cannot protect me from stupid/selfish people.”
Read that again and try to understand the logic of the Left: Vaccines work, but not against people with different political views.
In a May 18, 2021 column I attempted to explain this phenomenon, writing,
“It’s hard to virtue signal without wearing a mask.”
Turns out that was a surface-level analysis of the situation. It’s not just about signaling to your neighbors how virtuous you are. It’s about signaling how stupid and selfish and Conservative you are not.
Entering a polling station Wednesday to vote for the guy who won’t be representing New Mexico’s District 1 in Congress, a man held the door for us. He was fit, married, clean cut — and polite to boot.
In a T-shirt and jeans, also clean cut, also married with kids in tow, I somehow signaled to him our political alignment. He said:
“Dominion voting machines inside. Watch out.”
It’s not that surprising, actually. We live in a world where male is female and obesity is beautiful; where work is undignified, merit is sexist, and fitness is egomaniacal; where test scores, a healthy diet, policing and pollution are racist. In that world, a married man with kids who votes, makes eye contact, and says “thank you sir” all mean exactly what your instincts tell you it means.
For the same reason that single and weak, disheveled and garish mean the opposite.
These are stereotypes, of course, but while we’re told that stereotypes are the cause of all the world’s discrimination (of age, race, gender, religion, disability, body type, you name it) — they’re true regardless. Generalization is the best heuristic for survival. We subconsciously judge everyone we meet based on appearance, size, body language, and demeanor, looking for signs of health or disease, gauging them as threats or allies. For millennia we have judged. Those who judged wrong didn’t survive.
Which is exactly how masked vaxxers think about us, whether they know it or not.
They strap on their muzzle not because they need it but because it silently communicates their personal and political beliefs. Fear, caution, risk-aversion, acquiescence to DC technocrats and trust in career politicians — the complete opposite of what Conservatives want to project out into the world.
Like pronouns in social media bios, the mask is a class symbol now.
Which is fine, because that’s freedom.
To each his own.
Categories: Lamenting Leftism
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