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The night the masks came off

The Spectator – At last we’re free from the government’s performative safetyism.

My wife and seven-year-old son were halfway to Boston to catch a connecting flight to Ireland on Monday when the news came down. Or, as it were, went up, as Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle voided the Biden administration’s widely reviled but recently extended mask mandate on public transportation.

After receiving instructions from the ground, the pilot on their plane emerged from the cockpit and announced that masks were no longer required. He then invited the passengers to “go ahead and throw them in the trash.” There was a swell of cheers as the passengers and crew were overcome by a euphoria of deliverance from the tyranny of overzealous Washington. For nearly two years, they had demanded compliance, despite “the science,” which had shown again and again that masks are of little to no use in stopping the spread of Covid and can cause serious psychological harm.

Mme du Quenoy offered up a celebratory “woot” as she and young Master Charles breathed freely again.

By the time I’d heard her secular version of the Easter season’s triumph of light over darkness, two other friends on planes had messaged me with similar stories. Within minutes, social media lit up with videos of Americans applauding and cheering as the news reached them at 30,000 feet.

It is hard to settle on which post was the most moving. Candidates include one plane’s flight crew blasting “Celebration” after the announcement was made. Another featured two flight attendants embracing because they could see each other’s faces for the first time after months of working together. In still another, a man exclaims “Finally!” after the pilot announces that masks are to be consigned to the dustbin of aviation history.

For many, the emotional effect was like the Berlin Wall coming down. “It’s just glorious,” said Robert Mihlbaugh, a pilot with a major airline who told me he was “overjoyed,” adding, “it’s a great day for free choice!” “Vive le dix-huit avril!” wrote an Éric Zemmour-supporting French friend, as though the date of Judge Mizelle’s ruling were a grand journée in a new revolutionary epoch. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in whose freest of states Judge Mizelle issued her ruling, spoke for the country he will likely lead one day when he praised her decision to follow the law, tweeting, “airline employees and passengers deserve to have this misery end.”

Alas, not all Americans are freedom-loving anymore, and the Biden administration clearly wants the misery to continue. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who is leaving her job for an equally objective role at MSNBC, announced that the administration was “disappointed” by Judge Mizelle’s ruling and urged the flying public to continue wearing masks.

To be fair, the administration seemed dazed by the countermanding of its cruel edict. It was still reeling from yet another embarrassing video, this one of a visibly confused Biden being led away from a reporter by an official dressed in an Easter Bunny suit.

But further down the American left’s rotting food chain, those who were happy to live under near-house arrest for two years doubled down on the hysteria they would like to make a permanent national characteristic. The public transportation systems of Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and, of course, New York announced that they would continue to enforce mask mandates. Some claimed to be “studying” Judge Mizelle’s ruling, but by defying it they have raised the awkward question of whether they are now in violation of federal law.

Rather than challenge her legal reasoning, the intolerant left has tried to demonize Judge Mizelle personally. The ever-courageous Daily Beast derided her as “Trump’s worst judge” for having the audacity to exercise her constitutional role. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern tweeted that “no sane democracy would permit this system of government,” meaning one in which a woman confirmed by the United States Senate can reach a legally binding decision he disagrees with.

Others took issue with Judge Mizelle’s age, arguing that her thirty-five years — despite meeting the constitutional age requirement to hold the American presidency — were insufficient to make big decisions best left to octogenarian medical bureaucrats. Failed former secretary of education Arne Duncan was reduced to begging his Twitter followers: “For my safety, and for the safety of my family, friends and everyone I come in contact with, please keep wearing a mask when you travel.” He promised “to do the same” and sanctimoniously thanked his followers for “saving lives.”

The Biden White House is so insular, conceited, and tone-deaf that it may yet try to have Judge Mizelle’s ruling overturned. But whether it does or not, whatever pretense of moral authority it once claimed is now gone for good. Free Americans will never again submit to the power-hungry tyranny lurking behind its performative safetyism.

When my wife and son boarded their connecting flight to Dublin only a few hours after the ruling was issued, no announcement had to be made that masking was over. In all probability, we will never hear its like again.


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