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    The Further Adventures of the Facemask

    In March 2020 i published an article titled The Bizarre Adventures of the Face Mask. I was honestly amused by the debate about facemasks. So many people (of all political creed) were shouting "Stop wearing masks! They are useless!" on social media. I wish i had taken screenshots. Most of them probably went back and deleted their posts of March. Eight months later there isn't a single country where facemasks are discouraged. In many countries, provinces and cities they are actually mandatory in stores and public spaces. Nonetheless, the most ardent supporters of disinformation czar Donald Trump still dispute their efficacy and/or legitimacy.
    And that too is comical. It is comical because it is dejavu. The debate on the facemask reminds me of the angry resistance to wear seat belts when they became mandatory in 1968 and the angry resistance to the "No Smoking" signs in offices, restaurants, buses, trains and airplanes that started appearing in the 1970s. I still remember the many arguments spread by word of mouth about how seat belts were actually dangerous and that cigarettes were actually healthy. Countless stories circulated about people strangled by seat belts and about centenaries who had been chain smokers all their lives. I am sure there are cases in which indeed the seat belt caused problems, and there are certainly many smokers who lived a long life (see Japan's life expectancy). But eventually the new generations found better things to do than argue about seat belts and "no smoking" signs, and today hardly anybody gets angry when they see a "no smoking" sign on an airplane or even in a government building (where the sign is paid with their taxes), and it is common practice not to smoke in other people's homes.
    Cigarettes probably killed very few non-smokers. They mostly killed smokers. Second-hand smoke may cause cancer, but in rare cases. The real reason why we don't like smokers in closed environments is simpler: most of us don't like the smell anymore. Once you remove the mythological aspect of smoking (largely created by Hollywood movies), a cigarette is just a bad smell.
    Unfortunately the problem with facemasks is bigger. If you don't wear a facemask you may indeed kill someone, and not 20 years later, but just a few weeks later. The antimask movement is causing way more deaths and way more damage to the economy than any other protest movement of our time. It is not clear to me why police are authorized to use tear gases against "Black Lives Matter" protesters in Portland and other cities but they are not authorized to enforce the facemask mandate with tear gases if necessary.
    I don't remember if the seat belts and the cigarettes were also politicized at the time the way that Donald Trump and other neofascists politicized the facemask.
    When Trump is gone, hopefully the facemask will not be politicized anymore. Unfortunately, millions of neofascist Trump supporters (not only in the USA) embraced the anti-facemask campaign as a sort of religious crusade and many of them will lose face if they admit that it was a silly and even criminal crusade. But at least we won't have a president who personally politicizes something as harmless as a facemask and turns it into the casus belli for a veritable civil war. The whole farce about the facemask cost quite a few lives in the fight against the Trump virus, the virus that Trump helped spread all over the American continent. If the USA had simply done what China and Taiwan did, and everybody wore a mask from the beginning (January 20, when the first case was identified in the USA), most likely the USA would be in the same situation as China and Taiwan, or at least as South Korea (that identified its first case on the same day as the USA): work and school would be 90% back to normal, and the damage to the economy would be minimal. The comical anti-facemask crusade has instead cost hundreds of thousands of life. When i wrote The Bizarre Adventures of the Face Mask eight months ago, i was amused. Now we are burying the bodies. Comedy often turns into tragedy.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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