Of Purple Masks and Yellow Stars

Dr. Malcolm Cross

Opponents of mask mandates have some good points to make.  But many go too far by comparing masks today to the yellow Stars of David of Nazi Germany.  They make themselves look idiotic at best; at worst they make arguments as obscene as they are evil.   

I always carry a purple Tarleton-issued mask with me and wear it when requested or required:  In church, in the waiting rooms of my doctors and dentist, in a nursing home where I visit a retired colleague, wherever there’s a sign saying a mask is recommended or required.

I also think that employers and business owners have a perfect right to impose mask mandates:  After all, it’s their property where work and/or business is getting done.  Those who don’t want to wear masks can take their labor or their business elsewhere.

But I’m not too concerned about those who choose not to wear masks.  I’ve got my jabs and feel safe enough wherever I happen to be.  Science tells me that getting jabbed and wearing a mask reduces my chances of getting a breakthrough case of Covid-19, and that even if I do get one, it will probably be pretty mild anyway because of the jabs; maybe I’ll be able to pop some of Merck’s new anti-covid pills too.  Besides, even though I’m pro-mask and pro-vaccine, I recognize that some (not all) of the arguments offered by anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers make some degree of sense.  One doesn’t need to believe in the wild conspiracy theories presented by the right- and left-wing loonies to see that some arguments are at least worth thinking about.  For example:

We have, or should have, a natural tendency to question the right of government officials to tell people how to live their lives or what to do with their own bodies.  Adults should usually have the right to do whatever they want as long as they hurt nobody else.

Besides, its fair to ask how seriously We the People should take mask mandates when many of our so-called “leaders” obviously don’t.  Consider:

  • Former President Barack Obama recently threw himself a big birthday party at which, according to photos, no masks were worn;
  • Last year California Governor Gavin Newsome, despite his mask mandates for Californians, was seen dining in a high-end restaurant with various high-end lobbyists—but no mask;
  • Same with San Francisco Mayor London Breeds, seen dancing and prancing at her own birthday party with a few dozen of her closest friends—but nary a mask in sight;
  • And of course, there’s AOC at a swanky high society ball attended by New York City’s best and brightest, wearing her now iconic $30,000 Tax-The-Rich gown, but without masks for her or her fellow party-goers.

These examples should make all rational people ask:  Why should WE have to wear MASKS if THEY don’t?

Now for me, at least, the answer is, as I’ve said–I think a mask will make me safer, so I’ll wear it, even if Barack, and Gavin, and London, and Alexandria don’t.  But I can see the point of others who may decide to reject masks because the Pretty People do so too.

But one argument that some mask skeptics are making is that wearing a mask is akin to wearing the yellow Star of David forced on Europe’s Jews by the Nazis.  This tactic is wrong for two reasons—one tactical and one moral.

The tactical error here is to engage in such exaggerated overreach that one loses credibility.  To equate or leaders with Nazis and equate a mask with a symbol which made it easier for Nazis to round up Jews and send them on a one-way trip to Auschwitz is so devoid of logic that those who make the argument can rightly be accused of lacking any seriousness and are therefore not worth listening to, just as AOC proved herself an idiot with her blitherings comparing detention centers for illegal immigrants and refugees to “concentration camps.”

The more serious—and evil—errors are to either demonize advocates of mask mandates or trivialize and deny the occurrence of genocide.  To equate a mask mandate with a mandate to report for gassing is to imply either that advocates of mask mandates are as murderous as Nazis, or that the Holocaust, while an inconvenience, was no more lethal than our current epidemic.  In fact, some Holocaust deniers actually make the latter argument.  The systematic mass murder of 6 million Jews and 5 million Gentiles is the most well documented crime in history.  Yet some Holocaust deniers say that “only a few” hundred thousand people died, and this was due only to poor hygiene, inferior sanitation, and a shortage of medicines (after all, there was a war going on…).

Now those who are actually equating masks with yellow stars will no doubt deny this.  They will argue only that while requiring a mask may seem trivial in and of itself, it could well be the first step in the escalation of government power—a process which may at some time in the future lead to totalitarianism.  

Perhaps.  But if that’s what they mean, then that’s what they should say.  By bringing up yellow Stars of David they undercut whatever points they want to make, smear those who disagree with them, and—no doubt unintentionally—create the impression that they are among the Holocaust deniers.

So—memo to opponents of mask mandates:  Don’t follow the example of the braindead polemicists, who always say that whoever disagrees with them is a racist, or a fascist, or a socialist, or a feminazi.  Make your case with facts and logic.  Have as much fun as you want pointing out the dishonesty and hypocrisy of those who order masks for others but think they’re too good to wear them themselves.  But stay away from any argument having to do with Nazism.  At best, you’ll look like a fool as you undercut your own arguments; at worst, you’ll find yourself, whatever your intentions, in league with evil.  Keep your arguments clean.  Even if you lose you’ll be morally better for the effort.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

1 Comment

  1. Dr Cross;

    “And of course, there’s AOC at a swanky high society ball attended by New York City’s best and brightest, wearing her now iconic $30,000 Tax-The-Rich gown, but without masks for her or her fellow party-goers.”

    If you’re going to write an article based on facts research everything you write.
    I am not a Dec and I don’t care for AOC but this is the fact of her attending the Met Gala:
    —A spokesperson for the Met confirmed that Ocasio-Cortez was a guest of the museum.
    —Her dress was borrowed & returned.
    —Hypocrisy NOT wearing a mask.

    If we are going to lesson the divide between the GOP and the Dems – accurate fact based articles need to be written now more than ever. And I’m including the Dems and the Democrat leaning news.

    Writing that AOC paid $30,000 for her dress only angers people who don’t dive into the facts and believe headlines. $30,000 is the price to get into the Gala and she was comped the ticket.

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