‘We’re seeing now what happens when countries tolerate authoritarians, even for a moment’
Ever get the feeling we’ve been here before? We have. At the height of the worst pandemic in American history – the Spanish flu of 1918 – cities across the country did something, modern America would find familiar. They issued mandatory mask mandates and punished anyone who didn’t comply. “The man or woman or child who will not wear a mask now is a dangerous slacker,” read a typical announcement from the Red Cross.
The city of San Francisco, took the rules so seriously that a city health agent shot a man who refused to wear a mask – he hit the two bystanders who happened to be standing behind the man. That seemed a bit much to some people, but many others went along with it. They were afraid of the virus. They wanted to do their part to stop it. Most of all, they trusted their leaders. If their leaders put a mandate in place, they assumed it was for a good reason and they wanted to help.
Then, a single picture changed everything. A photographer attending a boxing match in San Francisco snapped a shot of several high-ranking city officials – including the mayor, a member of Congress, and a senior health administrator – sitting at the event, all completely unmasked. The photograph went national. Americans were shocked to discover that the people making and enforcing the rules had no intention of following those rules. Mask mandates across the country ended shortly after. The public was willing to endure inconvenience, but not hypocrisy.
h/t Coastie Patriot