Dermot Cole

Dermot Cole

New York Times columnist Bret Stephens quoted “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” a while back and mentioned the most famous pair of scam artists in literature—the King and the Duke—in a reference to Trump’s current political strategy.

“Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side?” the King said to the man he called the Duke of Bilgewater. “And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

After watching some of the endless Anchorage Assembly meeting about the mask mandate, I thought that the King’s words also apply to the politics of COVID-19 in Alaska right now.

While the hospitals are packed with people who can’t breathe, we have political gas bags  attacking medical science, equating masks with tyranny and the Holocaust and fueling the frenzy of those who just want to scream.

Having all the fools on your side certainly helps circus performers like Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, who has gone after doctors and nurses for pushing masks and vaccines, with a line of hooey not that far removed from the King: “Cuss the doctor! What do we k’yre for HIM?”

Bronson says he’s not anti-mask, “I am simply pro-liberty.” 

Simply incompetent is more like it. He and everyone else with any influence in Alaska should be doing whatever they can to get Alaskans to wear masks and become vaccinated to slow or stop the crisis in our health care system that threatens all Alaskans. Bronson, Gov. Mike Dunleavy and many other right-wing politicians are negligent.

The state has the highest COVID-19 case rates in the country by far.  The number of people dying and the 200 others who are hospitalized should have everyone’s attention.

Instead, we have this ridiculous sideshow with all the credibility of professional wrestling.

Masks are like seat belts in cars, or gloves worn by people who handle food, safety precautions that should be obvious to any fool, including a mayor. Wearing a  mask is no more a medical intervention than wearing socks. 

And it’s as tyrannical as being forced to drive on the right side of the road, use turn signals or stop at traffic lights.

The Fairbanks mayors, Jim Matherly and Bryce Ward, are also ducking their responsibilities by downplaying the crisis, refusing to recognize the peril and rally residents to wear masks and get vaccinated.

Even worse, a full slate of candidates on the Fairbanks municipal ballot this week are converts to the “masks are tyranny” con game. They appear to be oblivious to the emergency.

Fairbanks Borough Assembly candidate Patricia Silva, running against Savannah Fletcher, claims the vaccine has a tracking chip in it, causes infertility and the virus is “nearly harmless.”  Wearing a mask is like breathing car exhaust, she has claimed.

“When you slap that diaper on your child’s face you are causing them critical potential respiratory illnesses in their precious little lives and future,” she has claimed.

Fairbanks Borough Assembly candidate Lance Roberts says that requiring masks is like spitting in God’s face and the same as having the government put a “boot on your neck.” Except it isn’t like that at all.

Fairbanks School Board candidates Andrew Graham, Jeff Rentzel and Sally Gant would vote to overturn the current rule requiring masks in Fairbanks schools. 

“We need to push back against this tyranny,” said Graham. “Masking of anyone is torture in my eyes,” says Rentzel.

Enough already with the make-believe tyranny and torture and the fantasy that this is between people who hate freedom and those who love freedom. Save that bilge for the King and the Duke.

At least in the novel, Huck Finn knew the score. “It didn’t take me long to make up my mind that these liars warn’t no kings nor dukes at all, but just low-down humbugs and frauds.”

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