CHRIS THURMAN: Can we trump the great unmasked with Covid aesthetics?
Perhaps the best way to win people over to good public health practices is to resort to narcissism
Some of the more curious forms of human behaviour on display around the world over the last few months have been linked to the so-called “debate” about the wearing of masks. In SA, as in Covid-19 epicentres such as the US and the UK, we have our anti-mask lobbyists. Here, as there, they nail their individualist colours to the mast — simultaneously betraying an uglier ideological position, one that is closer to the ethnonationalist, elite-serving, right-wing populism of British Tories and US Republicans today than it is to a putative tradition of liberalism or libertarianism.
A generous view of non-mask wearers is that they confuse the intention of wearing a mask to protect oneself (the full efficacy of which may be contested) with that of wearing a mask to protect others from oneself. But this isn’t just stupidity; it is also the death drive writ large as a political world view. A sarcastic quip from a Facebook friend of mine is apposite: “I hadn’t previously realised that ‘I...