Finley: No shirt, no shoes — no mask — no service

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

I understand the resentment of the shutdown orders put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, and largely share the sentiment.

Americans don't like to be treated as children by the leaders they elect to serve them. This pandemic has brought out the worst autocratic instincts among the political class, none more so than Michigan's Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has become a most arbitrary and condescending dictator.

As Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote this weekend of Whitmer: "When you are reasonable with people and show them respect, they will want to respond in kind. But when they feel those calling the shots are being disrespectful, they will push back hard and rebel even in ways that hurt them."

One of the most self-destructive acts of rebellion is making protective face masks a  symbol of the resistance.

Masks have become the dividing line of this crisis, a visible demonstration of where you stand on the police state tactics imposed by Whitmer and other governors. 

Increasingly, those who view  the emergency orders as an infringement of civil liberties and a threat to their livelihoods are discarding the masks as a demonstration of their defiance 

Others see them as an expression of political alignment — President Trump doesn't wear a mask, so many of his supporters are shedding them, too.

Several communities and businesses have had to scale back mask mandates because opposition has become so virulent. And sometimes violent. In Flint, a store security guard was shot and killed by a customer in a dispute over a mask rule.

An Ohio lawmaker is refusing to wear a mask, saying it violates his religious freedom. 

"I wear a mask — mine has a Kentucky Wildcats logo and was made by my sister — to protect myself and others," Nolan Finley writes.

This is absurd. I object to the broad and often irrational shutdown orders, and feel the economic damage they're doing will eventually cause more suffering than the virus.

But I wear a mask when I go out in public, and feel no conflict in doing so. 

I wear a mask — mine has a Kentucky Wildcats logo and was made by my sister — to protect myself and others. It's not an acquiescence to the Nanny State. It's a responsible action that I hope will hasten the return to normal.

I'll admit to being a bit uncomfortable when I'm around other people in public who aren't wearing masks, although not to the point of the self-righteous assertiveness that has led to confrontations. I just keep a little further distance.

My belief is that if masks are widely worn, along with other precautions, we fully reopen our society, including schools, and end this needless economic plunge. In hindsight, had we not panicked in the beginning and instead of a total shutdown required the universal use of masks and social distancing, we could have kept our workplaces, stores and restaurants open and achieved the same results.

But now that we're here, don't harm yourself or your neighbors by confusing reasonable protective measures with irrational orders against riding in a motorboat. 

Wear the mask, just like you wear a shirt and shoes when you enter public places. And if you want to protest, write a pithy slogan on the front of it.

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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Watch Finley on DPTV’s “One Detroit” at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays.