There’s a meme commonly shared on social media that goes something like this: “If you drank from a garden hose, stayed outside till dark, rode in the back of a pickup truck, ate dirt, licked random amphibians, taunted apex predators, and slapped yourself repeatedly in the face just to feel something in the midst of your cosseted, banal, utterly meaningless existence, then SHARE.” I may be paraphrasing, but the meaning is plain enough. Kids these days need fresh air and a maybe a good dose of COVID-19 to teach them that life is an adventure!
The problem with that meme is that the person who drank from a garden hose and got a parasitic condition that turned their brain to ricotta cheese before they briefly took up prop comedy, and then unceremoniously shuffled off to an Elysian afterlife (where premium champagne flows 24/7 from sketchy garden hoses) never gets to share that meme. Because they’re fucking dead.
So, we’re a nation of rugged individualists. I get it. Unfortunately, that attitude has put us behind the eight ball when it comes to COVID-19 mitigation. As in, we pretty much suck at it. Because too many of our fellow citizens are, well, pretty fucking dumb.
Enter the Koch brothers. Or, rather, the Koch brother. (David Koch drank from too many garden hoses, apparently, and is no longer with us.) Turns out that the same deep-pocketed creeps who were behind the astroturf tea party are now associated with a burgeoning movement to keep masks off the faces of our precious, cherubic children. And I could not be more depressed.
The Washington Post has obtained a form letter suggesting that the recent “grassroots” effort to turn our schoolchildren into little disease vectors of freedom is not so grassroots after all. The Koch(s) is (are) behind it.
According to The Post, a letter that sounds “passionate and personal” has been circulating among parents who are concerned that their kids might be called nerds or something (really, who knows what the fuck they think?), and they’ve been pestering local school officials with it.
But the heartfelt appeal is not the product of a grass roots groundswell. Rather, it is a template drafted and circulated this week within a conservative network built on the scaffolding of the Koch fortune and the largesse of other GOP megadonors.
That makes the document, which was obtained by The Washington Post, the latest salvo in an inflamed debate over mask requirements in schools, which have become the epicenter of partisan battles over everything from gender identity to critical race theory. The political melee engulfing educators has complicated efforts to reopen schools safely during a new wave of the virus brought on by the highly transmissible delta variant.
The document offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a well-financed conservative campaign to undermine regulations that health authorities say are necessary to contain the coronavirus. The frustration of many parents who want a greater say is deeply felt, school superintendents say. But their anger is also being fueled by organized activists whose influence is ordinarily veiled.
Why? Seriously, why? What is it about the freedom to spread virus globules from sea to shining sea that’s so appealing?
The letter has been distributed since Tuesday to members of the Independent Women’s Network (IWN), which calls itself a “members-only platform that is free from censorship and cancellation.” Unfortunately, these “mothers” don’t appear to care if COVID-19 cancels their kid.
You can follow the link to the form letter the group is circulating, but if you’d rather not step into that den of disinformation, here’s a particularly egregious excerpt:
It’s a great blessing that COVID doesn’t pose as serious a health risk to children as it does to adults. Critically, young kids do not significantly spread COVID either. Furthermore, now that the adults in our community (teachers, school staff, parents and family members) have had a chance to get vaccinated, the risk to adults of serious illness from COVID infection is even smaller.
Uh, no. As one doctor interviewed by The Post noted, that’s totally wrong. David Kimberlin, a physician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said the data “clearly [show] that children can transmit the virus, perhaps to a lesser extent than older adolescents and adults, but that second part is still not clear.”
Kimberlin added that letters like the one promoted by the Koch-funded Independent Women’s Network “will cause more deaths, more funerals and more white flags on the National Mall.”
Meanwhile, the phony grassroots aura that the IWN has cloaked itself in stands in stark contrast to most parents’ attitudes about masking mandates. According to an August Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 63% of parents think unvaccinated students and staff should be required to wear masks in school. But, hey, they tend not to show up on the news, ripping masks off people’s faces while screaming anti-intellectual nonsense.
So what’s the anti-mask furor about, really? Hell if I know. It’s like these people are from another planet. And with an entire major political party already on the side of the virus, knowing that big, evil money is backing this dangerous nonsense is beyond depressing.
It made comedian Sarah Silverman say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT,” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.