Ah, yes, here’s the sign one sees everywhere in good liberal communities. Notice the phrase at the top:
And yet, as “science” now tells us we can begin in many cases to resume some aspects of our pre-pandemic life, Emma Green at The Atlantic tells us that there are some liberals apparently so wedded to the provisions of the lockdown that they can’t let go of any of them.
I plead partially guilty here. I still wear a mask when walking outside, even when I’m not near anybody, as when I’m walking along the lakefront. And yes, I’ve had my two Pfizer jabs. When I pass someone on the street with my mask pulled down, I pull it up over my mouth and nose. Of course they don’t know that I’m vaccinated, so to me that’s okay—it reassures them. But the fact is that the chance that I could infect anyone is pretty close to zero percent, unless I’m an asymptomatic carrier. Still, even friends who have been vaccinated are wary of having me over—for no good reason I can determine. (Maybe I’m odious!) Click on the screenshot:
A few excerpts:
Lurking among the jubilant Americans venturing back out to bars and planning their summer-wedding travel is a different group: liberals who aren’t quite ready to let go of pandemic restrictions. For this subset, diligence against COVID-19 remains an expression of political identity—even when that means overestimating the disease’s risks or setting limits far more strict than what public-health guidelines permit. In surveys, Democrats express more worry about the pandemic than Republicans do. People who describe themselves as “very liberal” are distinctly anxious. This spring, after the vaccine rollout had started, a third of very liberal people were “very concerned” about becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, compared with a quarter of both liberals and moderates, according to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina political scientist Marc Hetherington. And 43 percent of very liberal respondents believed that getting the coronavirus would have a “very bad” effect on their life, compared with a third of liberals and moderates.
. . . . Even as the very effective covid-19 vaccines have become widely accessible, many progressives continue to listen to voices preaching caution over relaxation. Anthony Fauci recently said he wouldn’t travel or eat at restaurants even though he’s fully vaccinated, despite CDC guidance that these activities can be safe for vaccinated people who take precautions. California Governor Gavin Newsom refused in April to guarantee that the state’s schools would fully reopen in the fall, even though studies have demonstrated for months that modified in-person instruction is safe. Leaders in Brookline, Massachusetts, decided this week to keep a local outdoor mask mandate in place, even though the CDC recently relaxed its guidance for outdoor mask use. And scolding is still a popular pastime. “At least in San Francisco, a lot of people are glaring at each other if they don’t wear masks outside,” Gandhi said, even though the risk of outdoor transmission is very low.
Believe me, I have seen those glares, even when I’m six feet away from someone and I’m not wearing a mask. It’s almost a form of mask-shaming. In fact, it IS a form of mask-shaming.
Green recounts the tale of Somerville Massachusetts, a good liberal neighbor of Cambridge, and a place where “SCIENCE IS REAL.” Except when it comes to reopening schools. Lots of work and research, including installation of UV sterilization units and automatic toilet flushers, determined that Somerville schools could now re-open. But they won’t, because, well, “maybe science isn’t real.” Finally they opened kindergartens and middle schools, but high schools are still locked tight. People are afraid because they’re afraid that science isn’t real. Of course the risk is not 0%, but it’s good enough for the experts, as is the CDC recommendation that dining without a mask in a restaurant, for people who are fully vaccinated, is fine with proper precautions. My own physician tells me this. Why is Dr. Fauci resistant?
No, some people are just wedded to the idea that safety trumps everything, which isn’t realistic in a world where there are risks. I understand this, and do not dislike those who cling to their masks and rituals. But it’s very odd that those of us who waited for vaccinations to free us in some ways are now reluctant to take advantage of that freedom. As Green says:
Policy makers’ decisions about how to fight the pandemic are fraught because they have such an impact on people’s lives. But personal decisions during the coronavirus crisis are fraught because they seem symbolic of people’s broader value systems. When vaccinated adults refuse to see friends indoors, they’re working through the trauma of the past year, in which the brokenness of America’s medical system was so evident. When they keep their kids out of playgrounds and urge friends to stay distanced at small outdoor picnics, they are continuing the spirit of the past year, when civic duty has been expressed through lonely asceticism. For many people, this kind of behavior is a form of good citizenship. That’s a hard idea to give up.