Until We Have Faces: The American Niqaab

The other day I was in the garden with a friend, enjoying all the tender blessings of nature when, suddenly, a large vinegaroon crawled past her bare feet. It is a formidable-looking bug, but completely benign to humans. She leapt up like a gazelle on the savannah. After I captured and released the offender and my friend settled down, I asked her what made her so terrified of it and, as it turned out, of all bugs.

She said succinctly, “They have no faces.”

Faces may not be the only, but they are certainly the primary vehicle of emotional communication between us. This is not just true for humans, but for many other animals on this earth. When a creature is expressionless, it becomes alien…and dangerous.

And that set me to thinking about the newest mutation in the American genome: the mask .

A while back, a colleague and I were talking about the effect of the niqaab on children in Muslim countries. Although we were on opposite ends of the spectrum politically, we agreed wholeheartedly that covering the mother’s face (and anyone who looked like the mother, meaning all women) was fundamentally, psychologically, and spiritually destructive in the extreme. The one who birthed, caressed, and fed you was as personal and recognizable as a mass-manufactured tent. Ultimately what happens is that women are literally objectified, meaning, they are things, “others,” and, as such, dangerous or, at best, utilitarian.

The other day, I walked into a store I had been frequenting for years. I knew some of the staff by name. As I hadn’t seen a couple of them in a while, I went up to a man I didn’t at all recognize and asked him where X was. He lowered his mask for a second, and…yes, he was X.

What intrigued me most as I walked away after a good giggle with him, was that after years of knowing him, I didn’t see him—his mask was covering his face.

This is a harbinger of a few things that are deeply troubling to me –and should be to you.  Because despite the fact that fewer people have become ill in this pandemic than during an average flu season, and despite the medical data that show not only the futility of a rag over the face but the potential harm, and despite the fact that herd immunity suffers from artificial “flattening of the curve,” people are persisting in the illusion that a facial covering can make them safe.

Why is the left so adamant about masks? Is it a delusion about safety? Is it something more insidious? I think it may be both.

One thing the left is particularly known for is its insistence that the government (as opposed to God) can usher in a utopian age. Safety is a prerequisite for that. In their ethos, a government that cannot promise “utter protection” from the invisible enemies of our universe is not a true government. As a psychotherapist and specialist in the treatment of trauma with 40 years experience, I can say unequivocally that that expectation is truly misplaced.

These, then, are the subtle but soon to be significant effects of these “safety measures.”

  1. Increasing isolation and alienation. With the chronic use of masks, we are cut off from others and they are cut off from us. We may be out and about, but we are alone. I don’t care how many zoom meetings we have, or how many “distanced” events we attend, the inability to express emotions to one another with our faces, not to mention the inability to touch one another, is an efficient and subtle way of crushing communion and preventing unity at any substantive level. It also prevents the resistance that is born of local gatherings.
  2. Creeping objectification. What used to be the person ahead of you on line at the grocery or the neighbor walking down the block is now the “other.” Some governors have even started little squads of squealers, people who are assigned with the task of identifying and telling on those who are not properly covered. This strategy, cloaked in the rhetoric of emergency health measures, was the second thing the Nazis did when they made der Juden the national “other.” Of course, many of you know that the first thing they did in 1932 was take the guns. Once you have an enemy and that enemy is sufficiently objectified, you can also make them dangerous and responsible for all the ills you experience. It is sneaky and very, very powerful. The ones who objectify the most will make the most noise and justify it the most.
  3. Surging submission. The left’s terrified insistence that we all wear masks to protect them from another invisible enemy is highlighted by their support of protests in which most people don’t wear masks and are literally crawling and falling on top of each other. A young couple and their family can’t have a wedding, but a riot is no problem. The only way that level of irrationality can exist is when people have surrendered their own minds to the demagogue in charge.

What’s the point of all this covering? To answer it, like following the trail of money, you have to follow the trail of policies. What pleases the left? Look at Russia, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba:A mass of needy, broken souls who place their offerings and ersatz prayers at the feet of Congress in the hope that the government will save them. Even more tragically, a group of souls who no longer believe they are souls and can no longer recognize the soul standing right next to them.

 Judith Acosta, LISW, CCH, is the author of The Worst is Over and The Next Osama. c. 2020 Judith Acosta
Image credit: Pixabay public domain
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