While AOC's revolutionary and subversive socialist gown generated buzz, the normalization of maskless elites attended to by faceless servants is grotesque.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), appears at the 2021 Met Gala maskless in her highly fashionable and subversive gown, as masked workers and servants surround her, ensuring her safety and a smoothly running party, on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/GC Images)
From the start of the pandemic, political elites have been repeatedly caught exempting themselves from the restrictive rules they impose on the lives of those over whom they rule. Governors, mayors, ministers and Speakers of the House have been filmed violating their own COVID protocols in order to dine with their closest lobbyist-friends, enjoy a coddled hair styling in chic salons, or unwind after signing new lockdown and quarantine orders by sneaking away for a weekend getaway with the family. The trend became so widespread that ABC News gathered all the examples under the headline Elected officials slammed for hypocrisy for not following own COVID-19 advice, while Business Insider in May updated the reporting with this: 14 prominent Democrats stand accused of hypocrisy for ignoring COVID-19 restrictions they're urging their constituents to obey."
Most of those transgressions were too flagrant to ignore and thus produced some degree of scandal and resentment for the political officials granting themselves such license. Dominant liberal culture is, if nothing else, fiercely rule-abiding: they get very upset when they see anyone defying decrees from authorities, even if the rule-breaker is the official who promulgated the directives for everyone else. Photos released last November of California Governor Gavin Newsom giggling maskless as he sat with other maskless state health officials celebrating the birthday of a powerful lobbyist just one month after he told the public to to keep your mask on in between bites and while severe state-imposed restrictions were in place regarding leaving one's home caused a drop in popularity and helped fueled a recall initiative against him. Newsom and these other officials broke their own rules, and even among liberals who venerate their leaders as celebrities, rule-breaking is frowned upon.
But as is so often the case, the most disturbing aspects of elite behavior are found not in what they have prohibited but rather in what they have decided is permissible. When it comes to mask mandates, it is now commonplace to see two distinct classes of people: those who remain maskless as they are served, and those they employ as their servants who must have their faces covered at all times. Prior to the COVID pandemic, it was difficult to imagine how the enormous chasm between the lives of cultural and political elites and everyone else could be made any larger, yet the pandemic generated a new form of crude cultural segregation: a series of protocols which ensure that maskless elites need not ever cast eyes upon the faces of their servant class.
Last month, a delightful event was hosted by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for wealthy Democratic donors in Napa the same wine region of choice for Gov. Newsom's notorious dinner party at which the cheapest tickets were $100 each and a "chair designation was available for $29,000. Video of the outdoor festivities showed an overwhelmingly white crowd of rich Democratic donors sitting maskless virtually on top of one another not an iota of social distancing to be found as Pelosi imparted her deep wisdom about public policy.
Pelosi's donor gala took place as millions face eviction, ongoing joblessness, and ever-emerging mandates of various types. It was also held just five days after the liberal county government of Los Angeles, in the name of Delta, imposed a countywide mask requirement for "major outdoor events. In nearby San Francisco, where Pelosi's mansion is found, the liberal-run city government has maintained a more restrictive outdoor mask policy than the CDC: though masks were not required for outdoor exercising (such as jogging) or while consuming food, the city's rules for outdoor events required that at any gathering where there are more than 300 people, masks are still required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Though Pelosi's fundraising lunch fell below the 10,000-person threshold for LA County's outdoor mask mandate, it may have fallen within San Francisco's mask mandate. Either way, it appears arbitrary at best: how would The Science of COVID risk have drastically changed for those sitting with no distancing, at densely packed tables, if there had been a few more tables of Pelosi donors? The CDC's latest guidelines for outdoor events urge people to consider wearing a mask
for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
Trying to find a cogent scientific rationale for any of this is, by design, virtually impossible. The rules are sufficiently convoluted and often arbitrary that one can easily mount arguments to legally justify the Versailles-like conduct of one's favorite liberal political leaders. Beyond the legalities, everything one does can be simultaneously declared to be responsible or reckless, depending on the political needs of the moment. But what was most striking about Pelosi's donor event was not the possibility of legal infractions but rather the two-tiered system that was so viscerally and uncomfortably obvious.
Even though many of the wealthy white donors had no food in front of them and were not yet eating, there was not a mask in sight except on the faces of the overwhelmingly non-white people hired as servants, all of whom had their gratuitous faces covered. Servants, apparently, are much more pleasant when they are dehumanized. There is no need for noses or mouths or other identifiable facial features for those who are converted into servile robots.
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