Walk around in public and it is increasingly obvious that Americans now live in at least two parallel worlds. For the bare-faced, the masked are a strange and alien people who are starting to fade into the scenery. The weirdness of these people strapping amulets to their faces has faded and it is now just something to be ignored, along with the person wearing the amulet. In fact, the weird collection of beliefs that lie behind the bizarre face-gear are also fading into obscurity.
The mask is no longer about following directions, complying with authority, concerns over public health and so on. It is about membership in a parallel universe that occupies the same physical space as this universe. If you want to know what segregation in the South was really like, go to a grocery store. Jim Crow was mostly two groups of people operating under mostly the same rules but living psychologically apart from one another in the same public spaces.
The masked versus unmasked is just the physical manifestation of the new segregation in current year America. Behind the mask lies paranoia and fear about those not wearing the magic amulet. The bare-faced are Trump supporters, possibly even insurrectionists or white supremacists. They most certainly are not vaccinated and therefore carry the latest letter of the Greek alphabet. These are the people against whom the elect are chosen to wage the holy war.
It sounds insane, but it is a generous description of the people living in the parallel universe that is the Left in America. Theirs is a world of magic and miracles where dark forces are resisted by the forces of light. They cannot explain how this works, but they have plenty of examples. The massive tornadoes that hit the bad people in Trump country were the wrath of Gaia. She is angry over climate change so she sent another warning to the sinners.
Exactly no one in the Gaia cult can explain how any of this works, but that is not how religions work anyway. The rituals and incantations are simple ways for the believer to show she is a believer, without knowing the logic of the belief. The overlap between Gaia worshippers and Covidians is not an accident. Both of these are viewed as supernatural occurrences by the Left. It is why your vaccination status matters so much to them. They have been told it matters, so they believe it.
Behind those masks is not just fear of Gaia, but a general fear of mysterious forces operating in the universe. It is why the Russian collusion hoax still circulates among these same people. They were never able to explain how it works, but they just knew it because that is how they imagine the world works. That is where you see the parallel universes at play. In one universe, hoaxes get debunked and people move on while in the other they become part of the canon.
In the world of normal people, the great struggle of life is the great struggle over the small things like money, family and work. Behind the mask, the great struggle is the defense of democracy. There is a war on democracy waged by those who oppose democracy for some reason. The faithful need Joe Biden to take on the real enemies of democracy in order to save it. Of course, those who criticize Joe Biden, in his noble quest, are threatening democracy by weakening his resolve.
One interesting thing about this new religion is it is mostly a grab bag of old ideas put to less interesting ends. For example, the crazies now have their version of the Inquisition where they will torment suspected heretics. Mark Meadows has been named by the Inquisition and will be brought to justice. He is charged with using the Devil’s own language to direct the armies of Satan. The point of this Inquisition is to finally defeat Old Scratch himself, former president Donald Trump.
To normal people, this obsession with the January 6th protests is completely insane, but lots of people believe otherwise. Behind those masks you will find that many, maybe most, buy into the insurrection myth entirely. Just as their magic amulet is about being on the right side of history, the basket of boutique beliefs swirling around the managerial class are about picking sides in the great struggle. The “insurrection” has become a rallying cry for those covering their faces in public.
Stand around in a public place where you can see a lot of believers and think about something that lies at the heart of it all. Can our societies continue to function when a significant minority of people believe these insane things? What Covid has really done is move this question to the forefront by bringing these people out of the shadows and giving them constant reinforcement. Those magic amulets are not just warding off the evil spirits, but reinforcing their faith in the new religion.
For the last two years the normal portion of the population has been buoyed by the hope that this will all peter out eventually. The madness of the Trump obsession would go away once Biden was in office. The Covidians would move onto something else once the cost of their madness was too much for them. Wait long enough and things will return to normal. It is looking like they can remain irrational for as long as it takes to pull the roof down on all of us.
One of the forgotten bits of truth about the segregated South is that without outside intervention, the system would have carried on indefinitely. The talented ten percent of blacks grumbled about not getting access to the elites and white merchants grumbled about the restrictions on commerce, but most people found it workable. Contrary to the cartoon version of the period popular with the crazies, the system kept the peace and most people saw it as an acceptable compromise.
The lesson is that two different people can live together in peace even if the separation is just psychological or cultural. Perhaps this is where things are heading. There will be no return to normal. One group will walk around with their magic amulets on their faces while normal people simply ignore it and much of what they say. The masked will traffic in their conspiracy theories about insurrectionists and white supremacists, while everyone else gets on with the struggle of life.
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