Assumption that masks are effective leads to conclusion that people of color are responsible for coronaplague

I was chatting with a California Mask and Shutdown Karen. Did the recent exponential plague in California, despite its mask rituals and nearly yearlong lockdown, change his views on the efficacy of masks and shutdown for containing COVID-19? From the NYT:

It turns out that the exponential plague just underlines the importance of masks. He blamed “Latinos” for causing the California plague. On the way to his house in the hills (he paid an extra $1+ million for a house 1/2 mile from the city limit so that his children wouldn’t have to go to school with the Black and brown Americans whose interests he says that he champions), he has seen “Latinos” barbecuing outdoors without masks on.

(Readers will not be surprised to learn that I educated him regarding the use of the term Latinx.)

So we’ve made a lot of progress in convincing rich white people that humans are in charge of coronavirus. Thus, when coronavirus “spikes” it must be due to something for which humans are to blame. But it seems that rich white people are not quick to blame rich white people. For rich white Californians, the Latinx are apparently the scapegoats (and also, via delivery services, the enablers of their ever-deeper bunkering).

(This is a little like Christianity versus Greek/Roman religion. If your Roman village is destroyed you can say “well, the gods are powerful sociopaths so we should sweep up and rebuild.” If your Christian village is destroyed, you must say “God is omnipotent, benevolent, and just and therefore we did something to bring this destruction down on ourselves.” The twist with the American coronaplague is that we aren’t a unified nation so it is always easy to find another group (Trump voters, Blacks, Latinx) to blame.)


24 thoughts on “Assumption that masks are effective leads to conclusion that people of color are responsible for coronaplague

  1. No use arguing with those people or pointing out that they are the real racists. Much better to tell them that is what they get for refusing to mow their own lawns.

  2. Yes, agree (for a change 🙂 ) with you. Always easy to blame other groups, and my experience mirrors yours. One question, how do find the Shutdown Karen’s to chat with, and do you ever make any headway?

    • Paul B: I don’t try to convince people to change their religion. I was only talking to him to see what mental gymnastics he would engage in to make the facts fit his beliefs. I don’t expect to convince anyone to see things as Anders Tegnell does. I’m just interested in the psychology of cognitive dissonance. For example, how people in Maskachusetts imagine themselves to be vastly more intelligent than folks in Sweden (less than half the COVID-19 death rate) or in Trump-supporting states (all of which have lower COVID-19 death rates; see ). How someone can put a BLM sign on his/her/zir/their lawn while simultaneously advocating the closure of schools for Black children.

    • philg: Thanks, Phil. I think it’s impossible to change another’s beliefs/religions. Btw, the death rates from July 1 ( are mostly higher in Trump-supporting states. One could argue that New Jersey, New York, Bergamo IT, etc were the initial ground zero places where the virus took off, and less was known about it and it’s transmission modes, and there was more ‘panic’. Not that I would, but I could entertain such an argument (note in your link, of the top 6 COVID-19 death rates, 5 are East Coast). Anyway, always learn something here from you and your readers.

  3. “The twist with the American coronaplague is that we aren’t a unified nation so it is always easy to find another group (Trump voters, Blacks, Latinx) to blame.)”

    And don’t forget the deplorable proles!

  4. Now you’re broadcasting anecdotal conversations with individuals? For all your armchair contrarianism, you haven’t made any meaningful conclusions as far as I can tell. You’re just throwing contrarian speculation interspersed with unrelated data points at the wall. Unlike Trump, you’re smart enough to know that your contrarian soup isn’t accurate or productive. Perhaps your years of work as an expert witness has trained you for this. After all, expert witness work, at least on the defense side, is all about obfuscation, confusion and promoting the notion that things that haven’t been proven are exculpatory. Gosh, yes, we finally know that asbestos causes cancer, and my clients employees were exposed to asbestos on the job, but we can’t know for certain if they weren’t exposed to asbestos elsewhere.

    Promoting the contrarian idea that masks and lockdown aren’t effective has been your pet ideology from the start. This seems to be the new America–where individual, unsubstantiated opinions superseded years of training and experience. It’s anti-vax everything.

    Based on my experience in CA, there is lockdown fatigue. No thanks to contrarians like you. People are gathering at home and traveling by plane despite record infection and hospitalization rates. They’re reporting that hospitals are nearing capacity.

    Are you really taking the position that if Californian’s hadn’t worn masks and locked down, we’d be better off?

    • SenorP: “lockdown fatigue” after 9 months of lockdown was not foreseeable? Anders Tegnell predicted this back in May. quotes him as saying “we’re going to have to live with for a very long time”.

      He stressed that Sweden’s approach was to look at the “wide public health matter” in which an important consideration was that “people should be able to keep a reasonably normal life”.

      [i.e., even if shutdowns “work” to reduce COVID-19-tagged deaths, the cost in deaths from the shutdown itself and/or simply the loss of the things that give life value would make shutdown an irrational choice]

      But Mr Tegnell said uncertainty about how long virus immunity would last meant it was unlikely Sweden would reach “herd immunity”, a level of the disease where so many people are infected — usually about 80 per cent — that it stops spreading. “I don’t think we or any country in the world will reach herd immunity in the sense that the disease goes away because I don’t think this is a disease that goes away,” he added.

      “It’s a big mistake to sit down and say ‘we should just wait for a vaccine’. It will take much longer than we think. And in the end, we don’t know how good a vaccine it will be. It’s another reason to have a sustainable policy in place.”

    • So it looks as though Prophet Tegnell was partly wrong about Sweden having significant immunity in Wave #2 (the country right now has about 60 percent as many COVID-19 patients in the ICU compared to in the Wave#1 peak). But his overall point about places that missed Wave#1 being more vulnerable to Wave#2 seems to have been confirmed by California.

      He also underestimated Donald Trump and the Warp Speed vaccine program (as did all of the American MD/PhDs! ). But he might yet be proved correct regarding the vaccine not being sufficient to end coronapanic. If the vaccine works only as well as the flu vaccine, I don’t think that would be sufficient to motivate cowering Americans to come out of their bunkers.

    • Your final question “[would we Californians] be better off [with a no-lockdown strategy]?” doesn’t make sense. There is no “we”. California is a miscellaneous assemblage of people from different cultures, speaking different languages, and with different value systems. California has the highest poverty rate in the nation and the most inequality overall (see ). Is a rich Californian who owns a lot of Amazon and Zoom stock and lives in a $10 million house supplied by an army of Latinx essential workers better off due to lockdown? Of course he/she/ze/they is! His/her/zir/their wealth has doubled and he/she/ze/they works out every day in the home gym. The Gulfstream is always ready for an escape to the second, third, or fourth home, or a resort in a foreign country with a bit of extra paperwork. He/she/ze/they might also have been able to avoid a date with coronavirus until after the vaccine is available. Is a Black 3rd grader who lives in a cramped public housing apartment and hasn’t received any education for nearly a year better off due to lockdown? The Shutdown Karens at the NYT say “no”:

      Can rich white Californians use their wealth and political power to steal from poor Black Californians by locking them down? In the old days, the answer would have been “No. The poor Black Californians have the First Amendment right to assemble to protect them. Maybe they can’t have a fancy house, but at least they have the freedom to wander the city, hang out with friends, to go church, and enjoy other basic human activities.” The new answer is “The Constitution doesn’t apply any time that the rich white governor declares an emergency. And the emergency can last for 10 years if the governor feels like it.”

    • Phil, 3 strikes! You are just like alex and keep responding to yourself over and over again. Maybe you can address this in the comment moderation policy.

    • @Toucan Sam: You’ll notice that I stopped commenting just before this happened. It’s the Quantity Theory of Self-Commentary. Lol.

    • Pretty soon the inmates will run the asylum! A Happy New Year to our fine host Phil and Alex both lovers of trilogies.

    • And when you mention “asylum” it reminds me of Barbra Streisand no longer having to seek asylum from Donald Trump in Canada.

    • Philg, Your response re: California is a non-answer which now throws liberty into the soup, as has been common with right-wingers all along. I believe the supreme court ruled that protests and religious gatherings are not subject to lock down. Not sure what possible link cant be made from inability to protest to covid death rates anyway. Why do you continuously compare disparate places like South Dakota and Sweden and then attribute all the beneficial differences to anti lockdown righteousness? At the same time, you ignore all the obvious differences such as socialism and a much better quality of life overall in nearly every metric except for wealth. The US has 300% the rate of obesity as Sweden, which is correlated to increased morbidity. There are probably similar data points across the spectrum of co-morbidities since they are much healthier overall and have a much better health care system. How about comparing Sweden and Norway–two more similar countries–to tease out your anti-lockdown panacea? South Dakota, and the midwest in general, has lagged far behind the more populous coastal cities. I was thinking of raising the point yesterday that perhaps CA has the new, 70% more contagious covid mutation but that wasn’t proven. Today that’s changed. Among other things, that may explain the stark increase in cases. Who knows. Your claim that lockdown fatigue is unavoidable is pretty rich coming from a contrarian like you. The degree of fatigue is largely based on leadership, confidence and moral, which you seem to delight in undermining. Yesterday I listened to a podcast from early March where Joe Rogan interviewed Michael Osterholm. Pretty much everything he said has turned out to be accurate. The experts knew about what was going to happen. The response failures can be attributed to terrible leadership and a population which has evolved to place a higher value on opinions, whether born of ignorance or arrogance, over expertise.

    • SenorP: I will have to take your word for it that a group of 4 or 5 people crammed into a 2BR apartment would not experience “lockdown fatigue” after 9 months given appropriate “leadership”. Given that Americans prior to COVID-19 were typically unable to be married for more than a handful of years without one partner filing a divorce lawsuit against the other, I am imagining very effective leadership indeed!

      Your statement that there has been a “response failure” doesn’t make sense to me. From the point of view of an Amazon or Zoom shareholder, a government worker, or a big company executive in a massive suburban home, the governor-ordered lockdowns entail minimal hardship, often much profit (extra $$ for the rich; extra leisure time for the government workers, reduced commuting and travel time for the executive) and there has been no “failure”. The only failure would be ending the lockdown.

    • Senorpablo-

      How many times do experts have to lie to you before you evolve to make your own opinions instead of relying on their expertise? Terrible leadership, indeed.

    • Philg – not surprised you can’t appreciate the value of good leadership. In my experience, contrarians aren’t great leaders and naturally resent leadership.

      Sam – do give us an example of the experts lying to us. And not the stand-ins hand picked by Trump. I’ll stipulate that the initial lie about masks being effective only for healthcare workers wasn’t ideal. However, I’ve yet to hear a plausible alternative which would’ve prevented the commoners from making a run on masks. After all, they proved American’s are stupid enough to empty the shelves of toilet paper.

    • Senorpablo-

      Sure, here’s an example –

      I work in an ER. One of my senior partners who was playing leader re: COVID issues when the virus first hit the US was instructing us to follow the CDC recommendations, including not testing anyone here with symptoms because it was ‘not in the community yet.’ The rest of us figured out the CDC was either incompetent or lying to us, so we had a vote of no confidence in that senior partner’s COVID leadership (he then resigned without notice on the spot) and appointed a younger physician who was interested in following all available evidence on a daily basis and making evidence-based and reasonable decisions that were in the best interest of our patients and staff, and though we are a smaller private hospital on the “bad” side of town, we were prepared better than other hospitals in town who were wasting time waiting for instructions from the ‘experts’ at the CDC who initially monopolized COVID testing and couldn’t even get that right. Real leadership right here on the ground is what got us through that.

      When a patient asks me a question and I don’t know the answer, I don’t act like I know the answer and blow smoke like the CDC and WHO seem to do (see conflicting statements on whether masks work and Philg’s recent example of changing definition of herd immunity). Even Fauci does it. Does he count as a Trump shill?

    • Sam – You’re referring to one of Trump’s stand-ins. Don’t confuse them with experts. Like most of his appointees, the head of the CDC has been corrupted and neutered by Trump. Trump took the idiotic stance that not testing would keep numbers low and somehow make him look better.

  5. If its more virtuous to refer to Latinos as Latinx, will I be lauded for referring to people from China as Chinx?

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