I’ve always disliked political performance art. The performative long ago replaced the substantive at the heart of our politics. Individuals act as if politics is about them, not the greater good. Politicians parade their ideology as if it’s gospel, not opinion. I prefer politicians who are work horses, not show horses. Hence my undying affection for Senator Professor Elizabeth Warren.
The latest cudgel being used by right-wingers to “own the liberals” are masks. If the so-called culture war is stupid, the mask war is downright imbecilic. Even though the Impeached Insult Comedian, was photographed wearing a mask last weekend, I expect him to flip flop on masking any time now. He’s consistently inconsistent. The mask wars will continue with or without him. They’re having too much fun with it to stop.
In New Orleans, we know how to deal with the mask issue with wit and humor.
That’s what you expect from the people who bring us Nutrias.org.
Speaking of political performance art, one of the mask war battlegrounds is the Louisiana Legislature. It’s a place where term limits have dumbed down discourse to the point where freshmen state reps post videos of themselves wielding chainsaws to make what passes for their point:
I value my sanity, so I usually ignore the antics of the Gret Stet Lege. Danny McCormick’s Leatherface routine is making that impossible and I bitterly resent him for that. I’m not sure why mask mandates take a chainsaw to the constitution but what do I know? I’m one of the liberals, Rep. McChainsaw is trying to own. I’m not for sale, dipshit.
Any time I hear a libertarian wingnut type go on about rights being destroyed during the pandemic, I say aloud: Freedom, man. I said that repeatedly while watching McChainsaw’s bat shit crazy video. I’m not sure how he gets from mask mandates to the Nazi’s murderous oppression of the Jews, but he goes there.
I’m a connoisseur of right-wing hypocrisy. Since McChainsaw goes on about the body as private property. one would think that he’d be pro-choice. Of course not. I’m surprised he isn’t waving a plastic baby around in the video a la Woody Jenkins. That was political performance art circa 1990.
McChainsaw is a standard issue wingnut; a model that’s all too common in the solid Republican South. McChainsaw and his ilk fail to understand that mask mandates are similar to requiring driver’s licenses. Why masks are oppressive and driver’s licenses are not is beyond me. Freedom, man.
Let’s leave the Louisiana McChainsaw Massacre behind and visit another mask warrior: our old pal, Picvocate columnist Dan Fagan,
Instead of wielding a chainsaw, Fagan with an A uses words as his weapon of choice. He’s not much of a wordsmith as these passages from a July 1st column about a mask mandate in Jefferson Parish indicate:
“Remember what started all this erosion of our freedoms? It was all about flattening the curve. We don’t hear about that much anymore. We also don’t get the doomsday predictions of the virus overwhelming hospital beds and causing ventilator shortages.
Our leaders are currently on a freedom-taking binge, when the better course would be to trust sober-minded Louisianans to protect themselves. If they keep changing their tune, don’t look for an end to the madness anytime soon.”
That column has aged about as well as fish left out in the July heat. JP President Cynthia Lee Sheng was looking two weeks ahead to where we are today as the pandemic spikes again. Fagan’s foolishness has obliged me to praise a Republican. I resent him for that.
What the hell is a freedom-taking binge? Is there a right to die unmasked? Is Fagan Dr. Kevorkian all of a sudden? Freedom, man.
And what the hell is a sober-minded Louisianan? The state legislators who want to end the Governor’s common-sense pandemic edicts? Is chainsaw wielding conspiracy theorist Danny McCormick Fagan’s idea of a sober-minded Louisianan? Freedom, man.
Even Governor Tater Tot next door in Mississippi is belatedly warming to the idea of masking. Of course, he’s responsible for something as opposed to McChainsaw and Fagan with an A who are mere bloviators. Freedom, man.
Our final mask warrior is the most dangerous one of all, Gret Stet Attorney General Jeff Landry.
In the early days of the pandemic response, Landry appeared alongside Governor Edwards at some of his press conferences. More recently, Landry has reverted to form and become a mask warrior with very destructive ideas:
“We believe that mandating students to wear masks creates a situation that may cross the line on liberty, and also may become a tremendous distraction with enforcement,” Landry said in his letter, which is dated July 9.
He said he is concerned that requiring masks would turn teachers and school administrators into “mask-enforcement police rather than educators.”
Mask-enforcement police? I thought that protecting the safety of students *was* the school’s job. Silly me. In Landry World, safety is trumped by performative politics of the deadliest kind. Freedom, man.
Landry usually prefers to perform before the cameras, so I must give him credit for changing things up with this venture into epistolary political performance art. He’s long been a political performance artist of the highest (lowest?) order. He first came to attention as a Tea Party Congressman who pulled this stunt during a speech by President Obama:
The mask war is peak 2020 stupidity. I wear glasses and have a big head (literally as well as figuratively) so finding a mask that comfortably covers my nose and mouth is difficult. Most of the masks I’ve worn thus far are uncomfortable BUT when I go out in public, I still wear one to protect myself as well as others. Comfort be damned. It’s the right thing to do.
Adults have to do things we don’t like every day. That’s why we’re called grown-ups. It’s a pity that McCormick, Fagan, and Landry are arrested adolescents with delusions of grandeur. Fortunately, Governor Edwards is a grown ass man determined to protect our safety with his mask mandate. Let the Mask Warriors whine. It’s what they do best.
I recently wrote a post at First Draft about pandemic backsliding by Dan Fagan’s “sober-minded Louisianans” and other Americans. In it, I quoted former Krewe du Vieux king and emergency medicine specialist Dr. Jim Aiken. You’ll have to click on this link to read his thoughts on the latest phase of the pandemic but they’re summed up in the image below by one of Krewe du Vieux’s most talented members, John Valentino.
The last word goes to John, Dr. Jim, and the Goofy Guy:
UPDATE: I had put this column to bed and tucked it in when I learned that Jeff Landry has tested positive for COVID-19. If there was ever a graphic illustration of the perils of political performance art, this is it. I wish him a speedy recovery and hope that he’ll learn something from his illness. I hope he’s not too upset that he didn’t get to hang out with Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire.
Repeat after me: WEAR THE DAMN MASKS.