A United Airlines aircraft passes by a Continental Airlines aircraft as it taxis to takeoff from the runway of Ronald Reagan National Airport August 16, 2006 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Opinion

WALSH: Airlines Are Forcing Toddlers To Wear Masks. That’s Needlessly Cruel.

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It has long been clear to anyone with a discerning mind that many of the measures supposedly meant to curb the virus are mostly just for show. At best, they are psychological protections, designed not to make people safer but to make them feel like they are safer. A video went viral over the weekend which reveals the charade in striking fashion. An unnamed DOJ official can be seen preparing to walk before cameras for a press conference. Right before taking the stage, he puts on his face mask. Once he has traversed the 20 feet expanse between the side of the stage and the podium, he takes it off and begins speaking. The mask served little practical purpose, other than as a sort of placebo for the viewer’s benefit.

The problem is that this kind of COVID theater often goes from mere annoyance and absurdity into outright cruelty. Here is the latest blood boiling example: A young family — mother, father, and daughter — were kicked off of a United Airlines flight, and initially banned from future flights, because the daughter wouldn’t wear a mask. She is two years old. Her parents were so desperate to get the girl to wear her mask that they tried physically holding the material over her face as she wiggled and squirmed to get away. Their efforts were not sufficient from the airline’s point of view, so they were escorted off the plane and humiliated. Most major airlines have the same requirement — that every passenger 2 and up wear a mask for the entire flight — and similar episodes have unfolded around the country over the past few months.

United’s mandate that small children wear masks is a concept endorsed by the CDC, which says kids 2 and older should wear them, but rejected by the World Health Organization, which recommends against requiring face masks for children under 5. In my opinion, a toddler mask mandate is pure madness, for a few reasons:

1. It is nearly impossible to get a toddler to wear something they don’t want to wear. Any parent who has attempted to get a 2-year-old dressed for winter weather appreciates the challenge. Young children will not reliably wear a hat or gloves out in the snow for any length of time. Invariably, a hat, scarf, and at least one glove will be laying in the snow within 90 seconds of walking outside. If you can’t get a 2-year-old to wear winter gear when it’s cold outside, and they at least partially understand why they’re suppose to wear it but still choose to take it off and get hypothermia instead, how are you going to get them to wear a piece of cloth across their face when they have not the slightest clue why they have to?

There may be some 2-year-olds who will wear a mask for as long as they are instructed to keep it on. But such a child is either the most naturally compliant toddler on God’s green earth, or else he has been psychologically beaten into submission by whatever terrifying things his parents are saying to him. Whichever the case, most toddlers do not fall into this category. They won’t wear it, they can’t be expected to wear it, and any policy that expects them to do what they cannot be reasonably expected to do, is wrong.

2. If we are supposed to follow the science, then why aren’t we doing it here? Children appear to be far less likely to spread the virus than adults. Shutting down schools is a monumentally terrible idea for this very reason. New York City closed schools a few weeks ago when the positivity rate in the general population had reached 3 percent. But the positivity rate in schools was somewhere around 0.2 percent. What this means is that children are only rarely contracting the virus, and even more rarely spreading it. A study just published out of Iceland seems to confirm this. National Geographic reports that the 40,000-person study found that children (ages 15 and under) are about half as likely as adults to become infected by the virus, and half as likely to spread it. So, what is the likelihood that a toddler with no symptoms both has the virus and will spread it to you? Whatever it is, it’s quite small. That’s what the science says.

Why, then, are children required to wear the masks? The point does not appear to be to make them safe, as they are not at significant risk from the virus to begin with. The point can’t even be to make them feel safe, as children are much more likely to be confused or terrified than comforted by it. Again, the only way they will feel safer in the mask is if they are first bullied and frightened into being paranoid about a virus that is little threat to them. No, their mask isn’t for them. It’s for the adults. And it’s not even to protect us adults physically, since children do not pose a high physical risk to us. This is about protecting us emotionally. That child had to be thrown off the plane so that the grown ups around her could have their fears assuaged. Toddlers must mask so that adults feel better.

This is exactly the opposite of how society is supposed to work. As grown ups, we are meant to be the calming voices, the wise and reasonable ones, saying to children, “It’s okay. Everything will be fine. Don’t be scared.” Instead now we growl at the them, “Put the mask on! You’re scaring us!” It is completely backwards, and one of the most absurd and disgraceful displays of cowardice I have ever seen. This pandemic will be over eventually but those of us who sacrificed our dignity out of fear will not so easily get it back. And neither will our children be able to so easily recover from the psychological damage that our hysteria has caused them.

More from Matt Walsh: School Board Votes To Take Thomas Jefferson’s Name Off Of School, Gives Truly Insane Reasons To Justify It

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire. 

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