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Anti-Masker & BLM Protests
both the anti-masker and BLM protests have one thing in common: diverted aggression. people are angry right now because they are fearful. the "old" way of life is being shattered before their eyes and their angst has to have an outlet. that does not mean that either or both of the protests don't have a legitimate basis for their genesis, but it does explain the vociferous nature behind them. I mean think about it, we've had BLM going since 2015 pretty much, it flared up more in 2016 and then went into a lull, why is it so much more pronounced now? sure you can point to the recent two most high profile deaths (breonna Taylor and George Floyd) but I believe that there is an underlying anger that is reactionary to the administration currently in charge and the unreality of our current everyday lives.
let's look at the anti-maskers first. their protest is that any mask mandate issued by the government is a tyrannical overreach of power that is limiting their freedoms. like any clever movement they have come up with "sympathetic" terminology such as "mask shaming". give me a fucking break. I'll look at it from two points of view: (1) the facts regarding how masks contain the spread of the coronavirus and (2) the constitutional validity of a mask mandate.
1) as far as we know the coronavirus is spread through aerosols leaving a person's nose and mouth. I'll leave out hand-washing as an obvious combatant against the spread of the disease because all of you nasty motherfuckers should be washing your hands anyways. so that leads to the second combatant: masks. a mask over your mouth AND NOSE keeps the aerosols coming out of your orifices from spreading out into the air, where they linger, waiting to infect passersby. while they do not directly protect you from aerosols (only KN95 masks apparently do that with their filter) they do indirectly protect you as they limit the amount of aerosols floating around in the air around you. this I find a compelling explanation as to why we should all wear masks. the counter to this mostly range around discomfort and that you are breathing in your own bacteria, both of which I dismiss as overridden by the vast benefits mask wearing has been shown to produce.
2) the government can "limit your freedom" if it has a compelling interest to do so. as someone who got an A- in constitutional law (still bitter about the minus by the way) I'm probably the leading authority on this and have been asked by television stations across the world to comment on this (sarcasm). take the facts in (1) and you can make a legitimate argument that the government has a compelling interest to further a goal which lies in the province of the government (namely ensuring the health and well-being of its citizens). therefore, "yes" the government is "limiting your freedom" but no more so than when it imposes a speed limit or a law that minors can't smoke or drink. there is always some give and take and yes some lines are arbitrary because in the end a lot of laws are arbitrary in nature (why 65 mph and not 70 mph on some highway stretches or 60 mph for that matter?) but they are, as best as possible, based on scientific data.
I also wanted to address a false equivalency that anti-maskers are making. they are comparing masks mandates with sharia law that requires muslim women to cover their faces. while on the surface this seems to have some plausibility (a law requiring citizens to wear facial coverings) the underlying reasoning behind the two are so vastly different. one is based on containing the spread of a virus and the other is a misogynistic shackle held in place by archaic religious rules. the two are simply not the same and this is just a surface-level and easily refuted argument against mask mandates.
in short - wear a mask. I know we don't like being told what to do and it is human nature to rebel, but there are sound reasons for doing so, not least of which being a compassion and empathy for those who could be drastically affected by the virus (think of your grandparents or other immuno-compromised individuals).
why are the BLM protests flaring up so badly right now? why are so many young people getting behind the movement now when it has been around for years? why are cities going up in flames and why is there rioting associated with the otherwise peaceful protests? people are angry that's why. they are angry about a multitude of things, millennials bemoan the inability to find stable jobs that allow them to live a happy independent life, young people without jobs or prospects are usually the catalyst for aggressive protesting. when you are letting people in the primes of their lives fester without hope and on top of that have a corrupt administration that seems to not care about them, then you have those very people rebel against their government.
and right now, with job prospects in the pits, unemployment at record highs, and people sick and tired of sitting at home in lockdown or just waiting this out, you have the perfect catalyst that propels people out into the streets like a keg of dynamite. not only that but you cannot underestimate the draw that a righteous cause has for people who are looking to divert their anger into something useful.
BLM at its heart is a very simple and unarguable tenet: black lives are endangered through wanton police aggression, we are trying to draw attention to this problem which is a byproduct of systemic racial biases and discrimination. those who argue with "all lives matter" or "blue lives matter" are missing the point (probably on purpose) that the phrase: "black lives matter" is trying to invoke. OF COURSE all lives matter as well as blue lives matter; the point is that this particular minority is being impacted in a highly negative way and we are asking that we focus energy to alleviate this travesty. it boils down again to empathy and compassion for your fellow man.
one very interesting aspect to this are the counter-protests usually led by far/alt right wing groups (and also expoused by many white people in the privacy of their own homes) that see BLM protests as a direct threat. it is only fair to look into the views of those people who don't seem to agree or are annoyed by the BLM protests. let's leave the argument that there is rioting aside, I don't think it is fair to judge an entire social movement on the actions of the few deleterious participants; there's something deeper.
manufacturing jobs, the bread and butter of males with a high school education or equivalency thereof have slowly been drained from the USA over many decades. the reason for this as far as I can tell from my vantage point as a former corporate attorney is that CEOs are under constant pressure by the board to turn profits. not only that but a GROWTH in profits. at some point, that is just impossible to do. a company can only sustain organic growth to a certain point, at some point the marginal utility of implementing some sort of new and improved policy is next to zero. so what does the CEO do? he turns to the other side of the equation and slashes costs.
I can tell you that there is no more lucrative way to bump up your margins than to move your cost structure to a "low impact" area (I love business jargon). simply put, you can show massive growth in profits by simply moving your factory to china. and when you have a country that consistently devalues its currency and willingly makes itself an attractive destination for low-skilled manufacturing jobs, there is bonanza after bonanza that the CEO can then proudly tote to the board and the shareholders. you also have to consider that, no matter how much we try to incentivise otherwise, a CEO's "lifespan" in a company is considerably shorter than the average workers. put simply, there is a massive asymmetry behind the goals of the average worker and the top brass.
so here you have white males, whose fathers benefited from a time where they could have one income households and still afford a home, a family and vacation, seeing that their own prospects are slim to none. take into account that less educated people are also more likely to harbour racial biases you get a perfect brew of resentment. so here these white (sigh some of course want to say privileged) males seeing their privilege slip away. their prospects dwindling. and now society is totally passing them by and focusing on black lives? can you see the injustice these white, formerly privileged, males feel as they see their economic prosperity and the power that comes with it dissipating? can you see both sides of the coin? why it radicalises people and make them buy into ideologies that lead to horrifically violent acts against persons who want nothing more than that all lives be equally valued?
some would probably take the above paragraphs as excusing white supremacists, but that is not the point, the point is to equally look at both sides of the coin and try to empathise with EVERYBODY. otherwise, we will never understand why. and don't we want to know why? don't we want to know the underlying symptoms to the cough that has been generated? look at the lungs? the heart? the pit of despair that movements and protests arise from?
Donald trump is a direct result of the despair that these white males face. they see their own power declining and the rise of empathy for someone who is not them. they can't understand or don't want to understand that they are not the focal point. so you know what their response is? fuck you! that's their response. not just fuck you, but fuck this corrupt government, fuck the democrats, fuck the immigrants, fuck the minorities, fuck the movements, fuck the protests, fuck this new America that requires facial coverings and cares about everyone but them. fuck it all. and who is a better fuck it all candidate than our commander in chief?
in hitler's willing executioners the author talks a lot about latent racism. when things are going well and jobs are there and people are preoccupied with work and the premiere of the bachelor or the bachelorette in the evenings this latent racism lies dormant in the hearts and minds of people. but when things start going downhill and the old order of security and prosperity is threatened and in decline that latent racism starts to burn brighter and brighter. then you get someone to fan those flames, harness people's anger and direct it, externalise it upon others, why then we have exactly what we see now. mix in a once in a lifetime pandemic and you get people who can't see the clear message that black lives should be as valuable as all other lives through their own veil of self-pity and hatred.
so in the end you have two protests fuelled by one emotion: anger. you can choose how you view the movements behind the protests for yourself, but they are symptomatic of a sick society. a sick society that I fear will take a long time to heal.