New Orleans It used to be that masks and guns were a bad combination that spoke of trouble with capital letters. Until recently, I would quip that if you were trying to raise money from a foundation these days that you needed a ski mask and a gun. Now the world is topsy-turvy. A friend and comrade posted a picture of himself on social media recently as he sported a new mask with the caption, “Outlaw waiting for a train,” channeling the famous Willie Nelson line.
Unbelievably, the pandemic has now decoupled guns and masks. Maskless protestors stormed the state capitol of Michigan with guns and rifles, actually brazenly displaying them inside the building. Maskless protestors have now demonstrated with the support of the President in a number of state capitals as well. The beleaguered national virus coordinator, Dr. Birx said these maskless marauders were “devastatingly worrisome … because if they go home and infect their grandmother or their grandfather who has a co-morbid condition, and they have a serious or unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of [their] lives.” The real outlaws don’t wear masks now. Too bad that buses, subways, trains, and planes are going to require them!
Do they care? Strangely, not, it would seem. In Flint, Michigan, a security guard was killed at a Dollar Store when he asked a customer to put on a mask to comply with the state order requiring them. The customer shot him, and then ran for it. The New York Times also reported that in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the city imposed a mask-only order and then caved in after they took a couple of hours of verbal abuse. Obviously, they were weak-kneed on the issue of public health, but they might have been afraid for their lives.
This is out of control. Traffic at extremist websites is soaring as these confederate flag and swastikas-waving demonstrators leave their stay-at-home video-screens to bring crazy-ville out into the open. They probably haven’t gotten the news that their NRA is reeling. The NRA is laying off staff, cutting all salaries 20%, canceling their convention, and having to count their pennies even on the eve of their boy running for president.
But, really, can’t we agree that guns shouldn’t be part of a protest. What are these people? Black Panther wannabes?!?
What’s the big beef about masks? Sure, it sucks to wear them, but it’s not painful. What’s the harm? Mi companera stopped for a snowball the other day. The stand was closing so there was a last-minute line. She was the only one with a mask or social distancing. The two guys behind her in the line were what Dr. Birx called “co-morbid.” One had been waiting for a heart transplant for seven years. The other was in line for a kidney. It’s hard to get those these days, but how hard is it to put on a mask to lower your risk?
Why has Trump made masks part of the partisan divide? An Ohio colleague on the phone the other day on our regular weekly call mentioned again the same open-up protests in his state, sighed, and simply stated the obvious: “If they want to kill themselves, why should we care, the fewer of them, the better.” I get his point, but as Dr. Birx argues, why should we let them take all of us down with them?
Wade Rathke is founder and chief organizer of ACORN and ACORN International. You can find Wade’s recent past posts here Chief Organizer Reports. And you can link to his website here Chief Organizer ACORN/ACORN International