The Trump Supporter and the Mask

Other countries have worked collaboratively to control Coronavirus… not the United States.

As of this writing, Coronavirus has infected a staggering 2.8 million Americans, killing 130,000.

The highly contagious virus, according to research, touch shores on American soil as early as December, 2019 before ravaging heavily trafficked metropolis cities and requiring the nation to temporarily shut down in an effort to get the spread under control.

From the beginning, the Trump administration downplayed the severity of what is now know historically as COVID-19. A global pandemic that left few communities around the world untouched as leaders in science and infectious diseases worked diligently to devise a plan to inhibit the mounting deaths- now listed at over half a million.

However, the Trump stood at a podium in February of this year and said to a stadium of ardent supporters that the virus would be gone by April, “When the weather gets warm.” He assured them “We only have Eleven cases and they’re getting better.”

He was wrong. Devastatingly wrong.

Yet, as opposition leaders continued to express concern about the potential for Coronavirus to become the threat that has indeed manifested, he dismissed them, and it, by saying it was a political “Hoax.” He began attacking the facts, as they were reported, Democrats, China, as well as TV News networks in a massive damage control campaign as he lamented to his followers on twitter;

Throughout one of the most terrifying moments in history, Trump and his administration parlayed a global crisis into a political talking point leveraged to vilify his critics and detractors.

As other countries worked diligently, hand in hand, to limit the fatalities induced by a virus entirely new to the human condition, they issued travel restrictions, lock-downs, social distancing, required masks in public spaces, and the people of those nations cooperated. Recently, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau’s staunch opposition once ensconced in Conservative Premier Doug Ford, praised him during a press conference, demonstrating their unified front against the virus, politics aside.

Trump never wanted to do any of those things. Governors and public leader around the country instituted their own rules and regulations for social engagement by themselves and were, again, attacked by Trump for doing so. The American President began fervently tweeting for citizens of states, ones that ironically were led by democrats, to liberate themselves, stating that their 2nd Amendment rights were under attack by their states for imposing safety measures, including limited lock-downs and business closures.

In the middle of middle of a pandemic, he dog-whistled his base loyalists to attack these local and state leaders… and they did- storming their capitol building with assault rifles, AK47’s and AR15’s insisting they were victims of tyranny- because the US President told them so.

Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer feared for her life as an assault was launched on her offices by radicalized Trump Supporters who beat down the doors and shouted intimidating threats at the behest of the President.

Carrying Trump2020 banners, Confederate flags, and wearing hats that boasted the Trump campaigns re-election slogan, thousands rallied, in spite of the climbing number of infections. Pressured Governors capitulated to the demands, likely, similarly to Whitmer, out of fear for their personal safety, so after very brief, but ultimately ineffectual limited and conditional shut down, the country began to re-open as the number of infections and Coronavirus related deaths skyrocketed.

Trump’s demand wasn’t for the benefit of the American people or even his followers, but an effort to salve his aching stock market and toppling economy by deflecting blame onto his enemies. 2020 is an election year, after all.

Trump’s misguided and heavily politicized response to Coronavirus and the damage sustained as a result of lax action led him to urgently and publicly demonstrate his influence over his followers, who eschewed any warning signs and thumbed their noses at scientific data in favor of showing allegiance to the President.

Somehow, resistance to the safety of fellow Americans, rebuking Coronavirus and peddling it as a belief system created by a nefarious “deep state” while entwining it indelibly with Trump support and even gestures of racism became yet another surreal new normal in the era of Trump, just behind their climate change denial- another politicized quality of life issue that does not occur elsewhere.

Trump succeeded in using one of the most grim moments in modern history to boost his ratings, target his enemies and demonstrate a startling power to mobilize his loyalists to act against their own safety and interests.

While the messaging from the Trump administration has been confusing and often contradictory from the start, he has used the simple gesture of refusing to wear as mask as a symbol of his political rebellion against his opposition, crutching up the white noise, alt-right conspiracies and hoaxes he has cited throughout the crisis as fact, leading Twitter, his favored method of communication, to take firm action and fact check his statements and help users discern facts from his rhetoric and misinformation. Yet, he persists in waging war against Americans taking precautions.

And his loyalists follow his lead, also refusing to wear a mask in spite of the immutable evidence that masks work.

Facts have been deemed as liberal whining and the need for their cooperation has been withheld intentionally as a demonstration of their unwavering support to the President and a proverbial middle finger to those who don’t support Trump. They have weaponized Coronavirus in a growing divide that pits radical Trump politics against common sense and unity against a common enemy amidst a national tragedy. A tragic saga that we have not yet seen the worst of.

In the States where Trump won in 2016, people have scoffed at the Coronavirus response efforts. Across the south, in the Bible belt specifically, those identifying as Christian- Trump’s largest demographic- are dying at an accelerated rate.

According to a study done by the Independent, more than 30 pastors in the Bible Belt have succumb to Coronavirus, along with many more parishioners, after trusted religious leaders “actively encouraged churchgoers to flout self-distancing guidelines.” The majority of these deaths have impacted Black communities of faith. A report by ABC news claims to have “identified at least 33 African American bishops, reverends and pastors who led various denominations around the country who have died from the coronavirus.” This is the direct result of failed leadership from the top.

Twitter saw hashtags trend in the face of Trump’s demands to reopen the country despite experts advising against it. #DieForTheDollar peaked at number one for nearly two days. Some have called Trump’s handling of Coronavirus an intentional genocide that will disproportionately effect poor minority communities, including immigrants who have no access to reliable healthcare as well as the homeless, the disabled and the elderly.

These are typically the communities his base targets in their own protests and at his rallies with chants like “Build the Wall” or “Send her Back,” the latter speaking of four congresswomen of color.

That Trump’s devout followers see their refusal to adhere to safety guidelines in a time of national crisis is disturbing to the world observing America from a distance. While the rest of the the world has joined together to ensure their survival in uncertain times, America has not only had to fight the effects of the deadly virus, but the suicide pact Trump Supporters seem to have made in his name and they funnel out to rallies, independence day celebrations such as the one at Mount Rushmore where organizers proudly announced they will refuse to adhere to social distancing guidelines nor require anyone in attendance to wear a mask. This pattern of behavior and divorce from reality to entertain a delusion has very real, tangible and deadly consequences.

Bizarrely the mask alone, or the absence of one, has become tethered to Trump support. Member of his base have gone viral for taping themselves getting kicked off of airplanes, out of stores and other public places for not wearing a mask claiming their constitutional rights are being compromised and invoking their allegiance to Trump. Even a Republican lawmaker, Ohio Rep. Candice Keller and Trump ally, was asked to leave a public event for refusing to wear a mask. More surprising, Trump’s loyalists even piled-on his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who was photographed wearing a mask, calling her “Stupid” and “silly.”

According to John Hopkins Cornavirus Data Map, while countries like New Zealand and Slovenia have eradicated the virus from their population and placed like Canada and Spain, one ravaged by Coronavirus, have gotten it under control by working together, government and citizen, America continues to climb in confirmed cases.

Last week, the EU made the historic decision to ban all Americans from travelling to any signatory countries, although opening up its borders to countries it has deemed having been responsible in their response to curbing the pandemic.

Trump has been internationally condemned for “Consigning his supporters to sickness” as global media outlets report that, due to Trump and his supporters trusting him over experts and prioritizing their perceived patriotism over human life, we are “A ticking time bomb.”

Source: John Hopkins Coronavirus data map

This is a topic that our national leaders must stop tip-toeing around. The effort to stop the spread and regain control of Coronavirus has been inhibited, to devastating effect, by Donald Trump and his loyalists who have taken their cue from him. By virtue of their beliefs they continue to willfully compromise their own safety and the safety of others in what they equate to an act of loyalty to the President and his increasingly dangerous world views. Their actions, motivated by their extremely unusual and unnatural idolization- in some cases deification- of the President has been a significant factor in our losing the war with Coronavirus. No one wants to say that out loud.

Unwilling to risk further politicizing Coronavirus or stirring the ire of his hostile base, leaders have been reticent to admit that Trumpism has been detrimental in our fight against a virus that we still expect to see a second and then third wave of. What has happened in America has not happened elsewhere. It has not been given racist nicknames. It has not been uniformly denounced as a hoax to exalt a leader whose influence over them has become undeniably septic. It is an uncomfortable discussion, but one that must be had if we are to put our wellbeing above the Trump induced denial and rage harbored against the rest of Americans by his base.

Otherwise we will all perish, because unlike Trump supporters, Coronavirus does not discriminate.

Today, 37 States have reported record, single day surges in cases of Coronavirus. No further efforts to combat the virus have been made, mostly because politicians and public leaders, staring down an election, are terrified of Trump supporters thus allowing them to act with impunity as if it s, indeed, the hoax they want it to be.

Where does that leave the rest of us?

Actor, Filmmaker, LGBTQ+ & Women’s Rights Activist All work copyright

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