It’s nothing new for political religions to produce radicals that develop their own sects or cults. This time around, rigid devotion to enforcing mask compliance has produced runaway fanaticism based on nothing but blind faith that more mask-wearing is always better. Even the public health experts, whom these followers all promoted as great prophets just months ago, can’t tame their fervor.
That’s a problem, because a return to normalcy will require subduing radical factions that agitate for oppression. Restrictions such as mask mandates are like oxygen to followers of radical fundamentalist Covidianism — the abiding belief that only lockdowns, social distancing, and masks can deliver us from the deadly pandemic. The longer mandates stay in place and experts continue promoting mask use — “My mask protects you! Your mask protects me!” — the stronger and more widespread the extremism will grow, and the less influence experts will have over their behavior.
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