I’m a fourth-year student at Montclair State University, located at the meeting point of deep-blue Passaic and Essex counties in New Jersey. Unsurprisingly, my school isn’t exactly a haven for budding conservative intellectualism – most professors hold views that make Noam Chomsky look like Bill Buckley by comparison. On campus, narratives pushed forth by the left reign supreme and often dictate university policy.
Most egregious in this regard is their mask policy.
Even though Gov. Phil Murphy lifted New Jersey’s mask mandate on May 28, administrators upheld their laughably strict masking guidelines: masks are to be worn indoors at all times and outdoors where social distancing is not possible; they are only to be removed briefly to eat or drink, or when in a room alone. Most importantly, they must cover the entire lower half of the face. If for any reason, your mask is to slip below your nose (or you deliberately wear it that way as a means of silent protest), you’ll have committed a cardinal sin for which your chastisement will be inevitable.
Just ask the staff over at The Montclarion, our campus newspaper. Their editorial board doubled down on this with one of the most patronizing, tone-deaf thinkpieces I’ve ever read – Mask On, Not Off, published on Sept. 30.
The following is a particular excerpt whose egregiousness stood out to me:
“Masks are meant to be worn over the nose. Not under, not halfway up the bridge, but completely covering the face below the eyes. This seems like a simple standard to meet, yet in every university building, some people have consciously decided to put their noses on full display.”
“Exposing the nose implicates the mask flouter as a potential health hazard, but it also broadcasts apathy and devotion to self-interest. It shows a profound disregard for the safety of others as well as a blatant prioritization of one’s own comfort. Not everyone on campus is vaccinated, and since inoculated individuals are still susceptible to infection, there is no reason to feel exempt from the mask guidelines.”
The article then makes yet another erudite suggestion: readers should confront students flouting mask guidelines.
“Approaching someone who is flouting mask guidelines can be risky, as it’s impossible to predict how they will react. This task should probably be designated to campus security officers or other personnel. That being said, anyone immature enough to purposefully attempt to provoke people by not wearing a mask correctly is decidedly not mature enough to be on a college campus, but that’s another issue altogether.”
This is utterly insufferable – it reads like it was written for an audience of preschoolers. However, that’s fully intentional. If you refuse to play leftist COVID hawks’ political games by handing them full control over your right to bodily autonomy, you are written off as a simpleton with a death wish.
They are utterly convinced that their convictions on COVID policy make them better than you, and as such, grant them the right to declare moral authority over you – I’ve seen students chastise professors for improper masking.
That’s where the “apathy and self-interest” line comes in. It’s not just that you’re acting in defiance of their openly political display of medical theater – it’s that you’re a bad person for doing so. Virtue is only relegated to those entirely in the good graces of the Left.
As far as the charge of “blatant prioritization of one’s own comfort” goes, I think the same can be said for those who actively demand you strap a piece of cloth to your face to participate in civil society, amid a lack of evidence, because it caters to their subjective sense of safety.
The mask is an inherently political symbol, and it was always sold as such. The idea that the Right politicized masking is a lie. Democrats didn’t just sell masks as a means of counteracting viral spread – they sold them as a token of the social responsibility and moral superiority that comes part and parcel of being a Democrat. Furthermore, the only way to ensure social responsibility – as Democrats have historically been known to surmise – is through government compulsion.
That’s how the mandates came into play, and that’s why they aren’t letting go of them despite the dearth of evidence that they’re effective.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.