Fox News is courting death and danger by giving Tucker Carlson a platform to trick strangers into confronting and harassing mask wearers. I can tell you from personal experience that this cannot end well.
Two weeks ago, I flew to Miami, where my cardiologist is located, for a battery of medical tests, as I have cardiovascular disease and am more at risk than most of having a heart attack. Before heading to the hospital, I took off for a morning walk. Coming from North Carolina, where masks were still needed in public, I had mine. I understood that there was no such requirement in Florida, where people are free to wear – or not to wear – a mask outside.
About 15 minutes after I started walking, a stranger on a bicycle, coming from the opposite direction, slowed down as he approached. I thought he might know me but instead he shouted, “Do you have a mask?” Yeah, I have a mask (expletive). Do you want me to stick it down your throat?
Carlson knows masks work
Whoa. Not only was I surprised, but for a while I was afraid of this person’s unusual and inflammatory rage. I wasn’t making any statements – political or otherwise – and I was certainly minding my own business. I wore it out of habit and to protect others. Even though I am vaccinated, not everyone is. In fact, only 27% of Floridians have received both vaccines (or in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the single dose). As I have said many times during the pandemic, our response must be “us, not me”.
That’s why I wore my mask. Even with revised guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that allow us to ditch our masks outdoors, some continue to wear them to protect themselves from other viruses (note that you probably haven’t caught a cold or flu this winter, largely because of the masking), or because it is difficult or impractical to get rid of even new habits. Apparently, all of this makes Tucker Carlson “uncomfortable.”
Days after my clash, Carlson used his chair of prime-time bullying to trick his millions of viewers into confronting strangers – like me – who choose to wear masks in public (and even call 911s. ‘they see children wearing a mask.). Carlson, whose program is regularly riddled with lies, has described the wearing of masks as a “sign of political obedience” and attacked those who wear them outside as “fanatics and neurotics.”
There are so many issues with Carlson’s cry from the heart. Notably, he continues his challenge of the overwhelming scientific consensus that masks help slow the spread of COVID-19. Still have doubts? Check out this February study from the Journal of the American Medical Association: “Wearing a community mask dramatically reduces transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2… in two ways. First, the masks prevent infected people from exposing others to the (virus) by blocking the exhalation of droplets containing the virus in the air. … Second, masks protect uninfected carriers.
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Once upon a time, Carlson himself was grateful that masks worked. “Everyone knows it,” he said last spring. “Dozens of research articles have proven it. In South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, the rest of Asia – where the coronavirus has been brought under control – masks were essential.
Not only is Carlson completely wrong about his latest facts, but he continues the politicization of masks as a blue state / red state issue, claiming they are turning ‘citizens into drones’, rather than talking about it. as a public health issue or, more importantly. , how to wear them protects others. In his long rant, Carlson did not ostensibly and deliberately call on his viewers to get vaccinated, the most important thing we can all do to end this pandemic. Does he have a death wish – for the rest of us?
Turn on his base – oops, viewers
But what really worries me is that Carlson’s dangerous rhetoric is prompting viewers, like the man who approached me, to take action against mask wearers. I was lucky. Last summer, a police report in Little Rock, Arkansas, said a 64-year-old woman was assaulted for wearing a mask in public. In her statement to police, the woman said she was punched in the face with a closed fist and knocked to the ground. She also claimed that the attackers told her, “Maybe you wouldn’t be so ugly if you took off that mask!” and “Democrats are baby rapists! Joe Biden is also a baby rapist!”
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Carlson’s rhetoric, much like then President Donald Trump’s call to incendiary action before the January 6 insurgency, ignites his base – oops, I mean his viewers – and gives them an additional license to challenge and face people they know nothing about.
“It’s really, really dangerous“Tweeted former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa.” He goes from his viewers passively consuming his propaganda to making them act on it – against their neighbors. He tests the compliance of his audience.
As for Carlson’s even more ridiculous suggestion that strangers call 911 or child welfare if they see a child wearing a mask, here are some tips: Be careful of your belongings and remember to turn off “Tucker Carlson.” tonight ”, tonight and every night. Fox News is expected to fire him before his dangerous rhetoric turns deadly, just as Trump did on January 6.
Steven Petrow, courtesy and good manners writer and USA TODAY Contributor Council member, is the author of five books on etiquette. His new book, “Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old”, will be released in June. Follow him on Twitter: @stevenpetrow