Issues & Insights

Neurotic America: Masks Today, Masks Tomorrow, Masks Forever


A number of retail chains announced last week they are not requiring fully vaccinated customers to wears masks in their stores. Not everyone was happy to hear the liberating news, though. Our country, once a bulwark of the strong and daring, is becoming a land of the fainthearted.

Minutes after The Hill tweeted Friday that Trader Joe’s was no longer demanding that its customers self-suffocate, at least those who’ve been fully vaccinated, the scolds and skittish school marms took their shots before running to hide under their beds.

“Not good,” said one, without explaining why it’s not good.

Other responses included: “I’ve only been there once and it looks like it will be my only time for a while,” and “I will not be going to #TraderJoes 4 a long time.” Many concurred: They’ll also avoid Trader Joe’s. One commenter said he doesn’t know if he’ll ever go back again. All that was missing was Joe Biden calling Trader Joe’s executives Neanderthals and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank claiming the stores are “America’s No. 1 Death Destination.”

Certainly everyone is free to express their opinions about masks, and everyone is also free to decide to shop elsewhere if they don’t like the Trader Joe’s policy. Yet the response concerns us. Will enough Nervous Nancies and Timorous Toms boycott Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Costco and others that have liberalized their mask policies to force the companies to backtrack on their decisions (which will help restore the humanity dignity that was ripped away by mask rules)? Will they actively picket in front of stores in an effort to bully executives into yielding to their neuroses, fixations, and superstitions

More than that, though, we are troubled by what this tells about America has become. The coronavirus pandemic revealed in stark terms a truth about this country that many of us have long suspected. We’ve grown soft, fearful, perpetually nagging and paralyzed by safetyism. Our prosperity has allowed many of us to feed our eccentricities and disorders, taking us down dark alleys and through doors that lead to grand halls of odd behavior.

(For example, one late pop star’s wealth enabled him to create a fantasy world around his life and to change his appearance in bizarre ways. Had his life been an exercise in basic subsistence, he would not have been able to afford to accommodate the quirks of his personality.)

To see just how deep this nation has plunged into a rancid broth of fear, take a look at this STAT-Harris poll taken after last fall’s election. It found that 75% of the public supported the idea of Joe Biden mandating mask-wearing, while two-thirds of Americans thought he “should ban gatherings involving more than 10 people.”

A March poll by the Morning Consult determined that “57% of voters said they would continue to fully adhere to precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing even if state requirements were lifted.” A poll taken earlier this week, with infections and deaths falling, and vaccinations rising, found that 42% still believe everyone in their “area should continue to wear masks outdoors regardless” of the Centers for Disease Controls new recommendations that say the fully vaccinated don’t have to mask-up outside unless in large crowds; 39% said Americans should follow the guidelines.

One would think that, given their popularity, masks would have been an effective prophylactic against the Chinese virus. But that’s not clear at all. We take readers back to a couple of passages with relevant links from an editorial we published earlier this month:

While we acknowledge that covering our faces might slow the spread of the coronavirus under some conditions, the Democrats continue to insist that masks should be worn even among the immunized. … This chart, using federal and New York Times data, shows just how useless state mask mandates – as well as lockdowns – have been.

It’s no outlier. Rational Ground, an organization that was set up to “answer to the flood of chaotic COVID-19 misinformation,” “found that states where people are told to wear masks actually have a greater spread of COVID-19.”

The “science” crowd of course walks over any evidence that isn’t consistent with its agenda, same as it tramples the Constitution. Today is just another day in which the mindless Democrat-media mob of the left that has drilled fear into a society that was already losing its nerve continues to try to break this nation’s once-stiff spine.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board 

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Communist sycophants, trolls and their hangers-on always are spring-loaded to react. Ignore them. The ones we have to worry about hold the reigns of power.

  • “It found that 75% of the public supported the idea of Joe Biden mandating mask-wearing, while two-thirds of Americans thought he “should ban gatherings involving more than 10 people.””

    Not that the Constitution matters to these people any more, but the President has no authority to do anything of the sort.

  • Isn’t it interesting that masks were never forced upon American citizens no matter what epidemic existed until the Muslim population increased and became involved in our politics. They are the only group of people on earth known to force masks on women. They are also well known for their practice of taking over every country in which they occupy and turning it into a totalarian government against free speech,

  • FDR used to say ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself’; today’s Democrats and their media allies have ‘nothing to offer but fear itself’.

  • I believe that those who irrationally believe that their face masks will keep them safe are showing the political opportunist on the left that America is prime for an authoritarian world where ‘our betters’ make decisions for us. Once again those who love liberty will have to ward off tyranny.

  • How can any private entity make a policy that treats me differently depending on my having obtained some experimental medical treatment which is private and confidential? Who’s to know if I’ve been vaccinated?

  • Well, I’m torn, as I’ve been for a year. These mask-botherers are starting to strike me as panicky lunatics, especially when we are talking about outside. Indeed, they have done since early on. And I’m predisposed to be sympathetic to any and all criticism of them based on which side of the spectrum they are mostly on. And also because I’m never inclined to like screeching harpies shouting any variant of “won’t someone please think of the children?”

    And yet there isn’t a complete lack of that on the other side, the one offered here, to which I remain broadly aligned and will continue to be. The business about masking children being child abuse, for example. Unless modern American children are far more fragile than in the past, kids can get through far worse with little to no trauma. They’re kids, they’ll end up treating it like a game as long as their parents don’t unnecessarily amp up the drama.

    Similarly with “self-suffocate”. Cards on the table- I’m 50, fat, diabetic, high blood pressure, have had pneumonia, and in theory am asthmatic though I’ve had no attacks for 10 years and suspect some other ailment was then the cause. So I don’t want COVID, even allowing the risk is modest in practice of getting it. OTOH, if masks were so dangerous, I’d have felt some effect. I have been wearing one in indoor public places for a year, as required locally, and outside only when in transition building to building and its too much of a bother to keep taking it on and off. In winter and a cold spring, it was almost as good as a scarf outdoors. Now its warm, so I remove it outdoors a little more, since it warms the face too much.

    One thing I’ve needed to do is test myself on outdoor stairs. I’m not fit, but I’ve been managing a 35 step twisting staircase in a park daily, with the mask. Slight impairment to breathing but wearing the mask in this scenario was not mandatory anyway. I was just testing the question.

    So I have to start concluding that if wearing a mask is really suffocating a person, that person has serious respiratory problems and might be better off worrying more about COVID and general health than the mask as such. The mask is a very modest contributor to warding off viruses, even as a herd effect, but it’s nonzero. And it shouldn’t harm a healthy person at all.

    So imagine my dilemma- I’m surrounded by hysterical pro-mask obsessives acting like the sky is falling, and can find only limited criticism of the overblown utility and even more overblown ongoing necessity of these things, without also hearing that these trifling bits of cloth are traumatizing helpless children and mysteriously asphyxiating healthy adults in ways I cannot fathom.

  • Masks? We don’t need no stinking masks!
    All through this overblown pandemic of fear, I’ve refused to wear the g0ddamned mask unless it was required for a routine physician visit.

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