“We can dance if we want to,” sang Ivan Doroschuk of Men Without Hats in 1982. “We can leave your friends behind / Because your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance / Well they are , not friends of mine. “
The song seems to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity on hit radio lately, and its lyrics aptly describe both the mass hysteria of the past 18 months and the polarization among Americans about the meaning and importance of ” security “in the era of COVID-19.
This trend has a tail that goes back to the past. How far? I am not quite sure. But as early as 2016, students at Emory University protested that they “felt in danger” (one of the protesters’ exact words) because of, among other things, the sidewalk chalk. Specifically, sidewalk chalk slogans supporting one of that year’s presidential candidates (I’m sure you can guess who).
Recently a friend told me that because the COVID-19 vaccine he received (Johnson & Johnson) might not be very effective against the Delta variant, anyone without a mask poses a threat to his or her. life.
I believe he believes it. Not because it’s true, but because “feeling safe” has become a consuming obsession that trumps science, common sense, and often even pre-existing and seemingly strong ties of friendship or family.
I’ve seen long-standing acquaintances break up with each other on social media over issues like mask and vaccination warrants, sometimes even disagreements over what a particular disease statistic portends ( “if they don’t dance / well they’re, no friends of mine”).
The COVID-19 safety dance seems to have less to do with “being safe” than “feeling safe”. In fact, it arguably has less to do with “feeling safe” than with obsessive searching for reasons to continue “not to feel safe”, whether the feeling is justified or not.
In this regard, the COVID-19 security dance has a lot in common with the St. John’s dance and the St. Vitus dance. For nearly 300 years, between the 14th and 17th centuries, groups of people in Europe sometimes engaged in mass hysterical dances and were content to boogi day and night (sometimes in the direction of shrines dedicated to the aforementioned saints) until they collapse from exhaustion or injury. themselves too badly to continue. Seems familiar?
At the start of the pandemic, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Dr Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases informed the public that “science” does not support masking as a way to reduce the spread of disease. viral.
Within weeks, however, both of them turned around and walked away headlong from “science”, acquiescing in the political imperative of prescribing anything, anything, that might make people ” feel safe ”.
Many, perhaps most Americans, have spent most of the year wearing masks as visible symbols of their piety and devotion to the cult of feeling safe, between ritual baths in the disinfectant for them. hands.
After more than six months of widely available and apparently fairly effective vaccines, many Americans are still looking for excuses to keep dancing.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is Director and Senior News Analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in North Central Florida.