The ‘Hidden Curriculum’ of the Facemask Pt 11
The ‘Hidden Curriculum’ of the Facemask Pt 11
The ‘Hidden Curriculum’ of the Facemask Pt 1 looked at the evidence for the lack of efficacy of the facemask, reviewed the technical reasons for why they don’t work and documented the suite of health problems that accompany their use. Part 11 looks at why facemasks, nevertheless, persist — despite all the evidence and logic. This gets us to the ‘hidden curriculum’ of the facemask, the political role it plays in gaining obedience to the authority of the authors of the damaging lunacy of lockdown.
(1) The Politics of the Mask
So, the mask does not work as a piece of medical technology — it does not stop you from getting the virus or passing it on, it may increase the viral load if you do get it thus making you sicker than if you were maskless, and it has a trailer-load of its own health problems. All in all, a lot like the Covid vaccine.
And, again like the Holy Covid Vaccine, the lesser deity of The Mask, even if it worked, is an unnecessary intervention for most people against a virus that is no worse than the flu for the frail elderly already in the prime of their senescence and is, if noticed at all by the rest, a rather routine virus that causes zero symptoms in around 86% of those infected and mild to moderate cold-like symptoms in nearly all the rest, and which has a survival rate, for those requiring medical attention, of 99.8%, a rate that can only increase as the original virus becomes more innocuous, variant by variant, as viruses do under the evolutionary principle behind virus mutation into more transmissible but far less deadly variants.
If science and logic mattered to them, our health Tsars should not entertain a policy of mask mandates at all, yet, during Covid, the public health establishment has become a political health establishment fully invested in, and power-drunk on, the daft, overwrought, economy-wrecking, counter-productive pandemic policy response which manacles the population by lockdown and muzzles them by the mask. There is now a symbiosis between our public health controllers and our political rulers who use the popular trust associated with the scientific and medical profession to validate their futile but damaging policy response to Covid and to shore up their electoral longevity with the magic incantation of ‘keeping people safe’.
Illustrating the rank politicisation of health institutions during Covid era is the transformation of the WHO from mask-atheist to High Priest of The Mask. Politicians robotically claim to be ‘following the science’ on all matters Covid and lockdown but what the WHO’s clumsy pirouette on the mask actually shows is that it is ‘Science’ (the bowdlerised science at the interface of bureaucracy and political power) that is following the politics.
It was “political lobbying” from governments (and it is governments which provide the personnel, the policy and the funding to the WHO), with assistance from the Davos group, “Masks for All”, which brought about the WHO’s new policy direction on masks. Looking for global institutional backing for their desire to be seen to be ‘doing something’ about the virus, in addition to lockdown (and school closures and curfews, and the rest of it), governments wanted the WHO’s tick of approval for the mask as a public health measure.
The WHO complied, cherry-picking a narrow meta-analysis of pro-mask studies, consisting of crude observational data (not controlled for a host of other factors affecting transmission), implausible modelling and artificial lab results unrelated to real-world mask use. They completely ignored the more reliable and robust RCTs, all of which undermined the case for the mask. Armed with this highly-selective ‘evidence’, the WHO now supports mask mandates as a control tool against Covid. An ember of conscience, however, still glows dimly in the recesses of the WHO in their still-extant caveat that there is “limited evidence” to support the use of face masks by healthy people in the community but this has gone the way of all official caveats during the Covid madness — to the dustbin of public health history.
What mattered was the WHO’s ‘scientific’ imprimatur for the highly visible symbol of ongoing Covid crisis. Any ‘anti-maskers’ (those who still stuck stubbornly to the real science on the uselessness of masks) could now be cast into the outer darkness of Big Tech’s censorial Black Hole as purveyors of ‘misinformation’, and simply driven from the public square through caricature or censorship. With its mask U-turn, as with its jeremiad against Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, and its banishment of the concept of natural as opposed to vaccine-induced immunity, the WHO (and vast swathes of the academic and practising medical profession, assisted by the professional humiliation and deregistration of dissenters from within their ranks) has, by swapping politically-required dogma for science, trashed whatever integrity it had left.
So, like kids in a lolly store, governments the world over have inflicted WHO-endorsed masks on their populations as a theatrical prop to justify as necessary and right these governments’ original mad lockdown decision to deal with an unprecedented viral pandemic. The mask is also the gift that keeps on giving — another ‘temporary’ extension of your ‘emergency powers’, Honourable Minister? (Queensland’s state government has just granted itself an extension of its ‘state of emergency’ to April 2022!).
The mask agenda is overtly about power — the power of the public health elite to rule through ‘Public Health Orders’ that powerless, muzzled citizens must obey. The mask is about social control not virus control, acting as the ideal visible badge of compliance, in the same way that the membership lapel pin under totalitarian political regimes publicly displayed that the wearer belonged to The Party and would thus not come under suspicion for regime disloyalty and face banishment to the Outer Party.
The mask is all health theatre, all about a show of ideological and state power under the rubric of ‘public health’ — there is a pandemic crisis and you will wear a mask because we say so. There are some True Believers in the mask, to be sure, those who delight in being a demonstrably good Covid citizens but, for most people, once the compulsion, under threat of fines or refusal of service, to mask up is removed, the mask comes off pretty sharpish. The Achilles heel of the mask is that it is unnatural and people do not, by choice, do the unnatural. Casual observation will quickly show that the mask is frequently worn as a ‘beard’ around the chin, or worn below the nose (in spite of the peremptory ‘Masks are Mandatory!’ notices specifying that the mask must cover both mouth and nose). Most people, even at the risk of financial penalty, will deviate from ‘correct’ use as often as they can get away with it.
Like everything else from the Covid policy nightmare, the mask is entirely symbolic, serving to ramp up the fear factor and to constantly remind us that the government and its tough but caring health ‘professors’ is doing all it can to protect us. The world’s governments, with the exception of Sweden, Tanzania, Belarus and South Dakota (a heterodox mix of political and geographical entities), since joined by Denmark, Singapore and numerous US Republican states, have manufactured a state of fear and propagandised their populations to obey their dictates, in which the mask features prominently.
Overlaid on this broad political function of the mask (‘there is a deadly pandemic on’ and you must obey our dictates) are the specific politics of the US. The day after the CDC first endorsed nationwide mask-wearing in 2020, then-President Trump announced that “I won’t be doing it, personally” ( he held out for 99 rebellious days before yielding) and the Trump-hating, lockdown-loving, mask-adoring, liberal left immediately made mask wearing a sign of political virtue. This has regrettably persisted — its one compensation being the amusing sight of left-liberals torn between following the re-masking orders of Democrat-run states and cities by masking up without at the same time being seen as a mask-spurning Trumpist Republican.
The mask works so well as politics because it is omnipresent, pure visual propaganda. Humans are primarily a visual species and the visual gains it raw power through activating primal instincts, especially that of the emotion of fear, which resides in the amygdala in the limbic system and which has been fundamental to all species’ evolutionary survival. Politicians exploit this primitive emotion by promising fearful people safety, by being seen to be ‘doing something’. The public loyalty ritual of mass mask-wearing is the audience-participation street theatre that has accompanied the full stage production of Covid Fear. In a very real, visceral sense, the mask keeps alive an atmosphere of deadly pandemic long after the pandemic, such as it was, was over and which had only ever been kept alive on statistical life-support through inflationary ‘case’ and death counts.
That explains why the federal Government could advise the public, in April 2020, to not wear face-masks whilst now, the New South Wales state government will slap you with a $5,000 fine for failing to wear a face-mask in public. Our governments need to throw some more mask fuel on the Covid fire to keep the pot of fear simmering as they apply themselves to the Covid recipe with the ingredients of lockdowns and jabs, border closures and dramatic announcements of ‘clusters’.
With fear, comes obedience. The mask signals the frightened but good citizen’s compliance with the ongoing public health tyranny. Wear a mask and you show that you care, that, yes, ‘we are all in this together’, all part of a great collective striving of humanity and not at all like those selfish, rightwing individualists, those irresponsible, anti-social Covid-Deniers, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, anti-testers, illegal party-goers, border-hoppers and other social deviants. The mask separates the rule-followers from the rule-breakers, the robots from the miscreants who stray from the approved script and who can thus be isolated from the herd and pilloried and persecuted.
Masks are symbols of subordination to arbitrary ‘rules’ and surrender by citizens of their rights and freedoms, a submission which the Covid rulers require so that they can continue to exercise their power over those citizens. Masks normalise the New Normal, every minute of the day, dramatising and reinforcing the Covid-induced shift in the balance of power between, on the one hand, citizens and their (much-abused but still extant) democracy to, on he other hand, unaccountable ‘emergency’ rule by a political elite, who were always irritated by popular democracy (Brexit! Trump!!) and their goody-two-shoes ‘public health’ auxiliaries.
If you were a member of the ruling class and you wanted to devise a strategy to turn citizen into subject, it would be hard to go past the mask during a ‘public health emergency’. The mask is an ever-present reminder that we should remain in a state of existential terror and thus duly obedient to the commands of our rulers. ‘But it’s just a mask!’, a ‘minor inconvenience’, say the muzzlies, trying to shame the bare-faced and critical-minded into wearing the face-rag but the mask is nothing of the sort. The mask renders the wearer a non-communicative, expressionless, atomised, less-than-human automaton displaying political subservience to, and blind faith in, unaccountable elites.
The mask is an essential adjunct to the lockdown as the only responsible course of action in the face of an alleged apocalyptic threat instead of the panicked, futile social and economic catastrophe that lockdown was. Or, as the US (slightly maverick and, therefore, occasionally perceptive) leftist satirist, Bill Maher, succinctly and irreverently put it, “sometimes I think we have to cover our faces so other people can cover their arses”.
(2) Masks — The Theatre of the Absurd
The mask is enjoying a record-breaking run as the latest attraction in the public health Theatre of the Absurd. The state government Public Health Orders meant to dignify the mask can not hide the self-evidently ludicrous nature of governmental mask wearing directives. For those under the heel of the mask mandate, and who haven’t succumbed to Covid hysteria, every time you leave your front door you are seemingly teleported onto Planet Zog, which looks uncannily like Earth but with humanoids roaming the landscape with a weird blue splotch where their mouth and nose used to be.
Walk through your local shopping centre and ponder the sight of upright people correctly attired with face-mask whilst, sometimes barely a foot away from them, will be the Chosen People, the seated imbibers of food and beverages, who, because they are eating or drinking, will be exempt from mask wearing. The dumb ol’ virus apparently knows only how to infect the standing, at a certain height above sea level, and who, therefore, need to be masked but it can be easily foiled if we are sitting down and feeding our gob. That person is safe from the virus.
Or, to be doubly sure of avoiding viral death, sometimes you must mask up between mouthfuls to keep out the cleverer virus which waits for just the opportunity of an open but foodless mouth. At least bit of cheap comedy provides a nice loophole for those canny enough to bend the ‘rules’ by making a bottle of water or bag of peanuts last for an entire plane trip, for example.
In Victoria, there is a astute state Premier who ‘keeps us safe’ by ‘allowing’ us to remove our mask to drink coffee on the street but decrees it to be a fineable offence to do so to drink alcohol on the street. In New South Wales, a mask is required everywhere unless exercising but people walking their dogs have been fined for not wearing their own muzzles if the activity isn’t deemed by police to be ‘strenuous’ enough. Queensland health minister, Yvette D’Ath, however, was taking absolutely no chances back in January 2021 when, despite the risk of outdoor viral transmission being practically zero, she ordered Brisbane residents to wear a mask every single time they left their home including when walking, cycling or even driving alone in a car. They can get away with this sort of nonsensical order because they have power and we don’t, and the mask validates this for all concerned.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, along with many other cultural institutions, goes full medical apartheid, banning attendance by people who are not ‘vaccinated’ but undermines the whole, rationale of the vaxx by requiring the double-jabbed to wear masks for the whole performance. The audience is expected to be grateful for such ‘treats’ as these from the Before Times even if it involves claustrophobia from a piece of fabric over the mouth and nose.
All the elaborate mask voodoo is so obviously nuts but its public acceptance demonstrates the stunning effectiveness of the ideological power of the Covid state, backed by police powers, to conjure up a baseless, fear-inducing ‘public health emergency’ to get people to suspend their usually robust scepticism and irreverence towards elite authority figures and to, instead, invest their unquestioning trust in the public health ‘expert’ just because they have ‘Professor’ in front of their name, or M.D. after it.
Most people go along with it, however, less from a genuine belief in the mask than from a profound psychological need to believe in the mask, to believe that they are being fed good coin on the threat of Covid and the necessity of the lockdown/vaxx/mask policy response. Otherwise, the recognition that the Covid authorities don’t really know what they are doing, that their authoritarian, draconian and byzantine rules are ridiculous, that they are not ‘following medical advice’ (getting blood out of a stone is easier than getting the ‘medical advice’ their decisions are allegedly based on), that they are just hamming it up with histrionic pressers and melodramatic propaganda to inflate the fear, would embarrass the victims of the masking/lockdown fraud into conceding that they had been taken for a ride all along. Psychologically, that is difficult for people to accept. Recognising that all the misery of the last eighteen months hasn’t been worth it, that we were too gullible, too ready to surrender our civil liberties, to sacrifice our personal freedoms and to vandalise the economy and our children’s future, would be too much to bear.
The authorities running the Covid show also have a deep inner need for reaffirmation of the power they wield, of the control they exercise over the public by normalising the mask as an unquestioned fact of daily life to ‘defeat Covid’. If they were to be called-out as public health shamans, the CHOs and CMOs of the world would lose their hold over the public mind and would have to slink back, in personal and reputational disgrace, to bureaucratic obscurity. Their coevals, the state premiers, would then revert back to political ordinariness, their stellar ,Covid-based approval ratings plummeting back into line-ball, two-party-preferred territory. Getting everyone to behave like trained seals by wearing pointless masks helps to get them to obey every other nonsensical order during our politicians’ contemporary salad days of unrestrained Covid power.
With the mask, we are engaging in a contemporary experimental replication, on a global scale, of three of the time-honoured classics from the academic discipline of psychology — B. F. Skinner on conditioning, Solomon Asch on conformity and Stanley Milgram on obedience — and finding out that there is nothing new under the psychological sun, and that our Covid overlords are, consciously or sub-consciously, exploiting this for all they are worth.
Everyone in the Covid tragi-comic farce — the authors, the principal players, the spear-carriers — has too much of themselves emotionally invested in being right to be able to easily pull the pin on the mask lest the whole Covid compliance show comes crashing down to bitter reviews.
(3) The Left and the Mask, or Comrade Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mask
Just as the Left has been smitten with lockdown, the curtailment of civil liberties, the expansion of state authoritarianism, and state and Big Tech censorship, it comes as no surprise that the Left is deeply in love with the mask. Every left-organised protest rally, for whatever the woke/green cause de jour is, now features masked (and dutifully socially-distanced) protestors. When the Left obsequiously wears the state-sanctioned mask at its public protests, this signals that the Left is fully compliant with official Covid propaganda and the hare-brained and damaging policy response that flows from it. These leftist rebels are missing the huge, elephant-sized, cause in the room — Covid hysteria and disastrous policy overreaction.
The Left is loathe to be seen as ‘anti-mask’ because that would be to challenge their self-image as the ‘party of Science’ helping to keep the suffering people safe. When ordinary people suffering under lockdown and the threat of compulsory medical procedure, took to the streets a couple of months ago to oppose their plight, the large, boisterous rallies were, predictably, covered with hostility by the lockdown-fanatical, Zero-Covid-zealous Green Left Weekly which managed to combine caricature (the demonstrators were, quote, “flag-waving racist neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, anti-vaxxers, anti-testers, members of the religious right, people flying the Eureka flag, people who don’t think COVID-19 is real [and other conspiracy theories] and self-proclaimed ‘libertarians’”) with condescension (the rally organisers were “exploiting the pain and anger of some plain angry, stressed out folk worrying more about their dire economic situation than concern about infecting their family or community”). Nice to see GLW not being shy about their real view of ‘plain folk’ (too dumb to understand the real threat they face is from a virus and not its job-destroying, futile policy response) but they could have just used the all-purpose smear word of ‘deplorables’ for people they disagree with and left it at that.
GLW’s anguish was palpable when considering some of the woke left’s favourite constituents amongst the protestors — the young, migrants, Pacific Islanders (“possibly from the fundamentalist Christian wing”, GLW adds dismissively) and women (GLW being especially discombobulated by the trifecta of “young women wearing Middle Eastern headscarves”). ‘How could you!?’, is the subtext — after all we’ve done for you, championing your victimhood, and you repay us by acting irresponsibly, congregating maskless in public and, like Louis the Fly, spreading disease with the greatest of ease. Protesting workers from the restive suburbs of the capital cities, beyond the chic inner-city haunts of the woke left, were patronised for being “conned” into a “confused and random act of rebellion”.
GLW’s antagonism to the lockdown protests is no surprise, really, because the slogans of ‘What do we want? Lockdown! When do we want it? Forever!’, or ‘Zero Covid Now!’, or ‘Jabs for All!’, or ‘1, 2, 3, 4 We Demand Masks For Ever More’ would have struck a jarring note if the Left, which has ‘cut and run’ from the greatest political battle (lockdown) of recent decades, had deigned to join the protest against freedom-restricting, job-killing lockdowns.
When there was a ‘second wave’ of even larger protests in August, with riot police firing rubber bullets and teargas and calling out the dog squads and mounted divisions, the ‘Left’ was otherwise engaged by masking up for a ‘Covid Safe’ vigil for Afghan refugees. Hey, guys, there is an assault on freedom and civil liberties right on your doorstep being waged by lockdown fundamentalists, ‘vaccine’-mandaters, democracy-deniers and curfew-imposers (Greater Sydney’s curfew starts a whole hour earlier than even the Taliban’s 10pm curfew) who compel women and men to cover their faces on pain of arrest and stiff financial penalty.
In the same manner, GLW’s support for the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 during lockdown was self-justified because it was ‘Covid Safe’, unlike the anti-lockdown protests of 2021 which GLW condemned for being “un-masked and [where] people did not space themselves out” (and, if GLW were to be up-front about it, for backing the ‘wrong’ cause).
A century ago, it was all a bit different. In the US, during the 1918–19 ‘Spanish’ flu, the US Public Health Service and the Red Cross recommended mask use by all citizens as a civic duty and many states and counties made them mandatory, backed by fines and jail time for any maskless miscreants but the mask laws were unpopular. Workers complained that masks were uncomfortable to wear all day. San Francisco streetcar conductors threatened strike action (forcing a watering down of the city’s masking orders). Seattle’s streetcar conductors refused to turn away unmasked passengers. There was widespread non-compliance which sometimes turned into defiance — in January 1919 in San Francisco, an Anti-Mask League organised large protests against masks because of their ineffectiveness, their unconstitutional infringement of civil liberties, the heavy-handed policing of mask orders, and the hypocrisy of state officials who flagrantly flouted their own rules.
Leading the Anti-Mask League was the working class suffragist and American Federation of Labour union activist, Emma Harrington, supported by a former mayor of San Francisco, Eugene Schmitz, the president of the Musician’s Union and founder of the Union Labor Party. They saw the mask as an attempt to discipline the working class into compliance with the state’s mandates to enforce ineffective and harmful mask-wearing under the guise of public health.
That was then, however, and now is now. Now, the New South Wales Rail, Tram and Bus Union threatens a strike (in August 2020) by Sydney’s bus drivers unless masks were made compulsory for passengers. Today’s left, and the unions, have now joined the screenwriter team for the B-grade production of Comrade Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mask but without the darkly satirical intent of the brilliant Kubrick/Sellers’ Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
There is a dismayingly wide field of contenders for the title of the single most obnoxious aspect of the whole misbegotten Covid saga. How about the economically-ruinous and serenity-destroying lockdown? Or the discriminatory ‘vaccine’ passport? Or the industrial-strength assault on civil liberties? Or the padlocked international borders and the ‘Papers, Please!’ Checkpoint Charlies on our internal borders? Or the QR, track-and-trace sign-in code on every venue in Australia? Or the mass testing of the asymptomatic (i.e. healthy) with a PCR test that is replete with false positives, is unable to diagnose actual illness and which can’t even tell the difference between ordinary flu and the coronavirus that causes Covid?
All of these have very strong claims but for sheer, literal, in-your-face loathsomeness, it is the intellectually infantilising, politically enfeebling, futile, filthy face-rag that is in a class of its own.