Wajahat Ali, a columnist for The Daily Beast and senior fellow at the Western States Center, said that watching people, particularly children, walk around without masks reminded him of a “horror movie.”
The comment sparked a cascade of mockery and criticism as COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. Ali said that “packed restaurants,” and people shopping made him feel as if he were in a “horror movie.”
“I feel America has forgotten we’re still in the middle of a pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 people, and there’s a deadly Delta Plus strain, and our kids are still not vaccinated. Sigh,” Ali tweeted Sunday. “I see packed restaurants and people inside stores and malls and their kids aren’t wearing masks. I feel I’m in a horror movie.”
I see packed restaurants and people inside stores and malls and their kids aren't wearing masks. I feel I'm in a horror movie.
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) June 27, 2021
Ricochet editor Bethany Mandel pointed out that children are not considered high-risk for COVID-19.
“His daughter is incredibly high risk as a cancer survivor. But all of our kids are not high risk (thank God) and we need to let them get back to normal life. High risk children have always had to contend with ambient pathogens (flu etc) and our society can’t totally cater to it,” Mandel said.
“During the measles outbreaks of the last few years I’ve changed our grocery shopping and synagogue habits to leave home my babies too young for the MMR. The rest of the world isn’t going to work around the needs of my infant, and that’s okay,” she continued. “During flu and RSV season with young babies I’m also more careful, especially considering it’s more dangerous to kids/babies than COVID. But we still live our lives and I never ever would expect everyone around me to mask for our benefit. It’s not a reasonable request of society.”
Mary Margaret Olohan, a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation, pointed out the costs of maintaining strict lockdown measures.
“An alternate horror movie: all of America continues to stay in their homes glued to Zoom, Netflix, and porn. No eye contact in the streets, everyone covers their faces with masks. Depression, loneliness reigns. Schools stay closed. Jobs lost. Businesses shuttered forever,” Olohan said.
Comedian Tim Dillon said Ali’s tweet amounted to pushing conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the state of the pandemic.
“This is liberal Q Anon,” Dillon said.
Ali later doubled down on his comments and called his critics “freak merchants” and accused them of attacking science.
“Honored. Have all the freak merchants of the far right trolling me today because I’m concerned that kids aren’t vaccinated, there’s still a pandemic going on, and people remain unvaxxed and don’t wear masks inside packed restaurants because they are really tough and bada**!” Ali said in one follow-up tweet.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had the right-wing trolls come at me en masse. Not my first rodeo. All good. Y’all enjoy attacking vaccines, science and masks and talking TOUGH about being MANLY men and without fear … as you try to ban critical race theory and the 1619 project,” he added in another.
As vaccinations continue to increase and COVID-19 cases decline, states have lifted heavy lockdown restrictions. Some states such as Florida instituted light measures and removed them much sooner than other states without a measurably worse impact on residents from COVID-19. Even heavy lockdown states such as New York have lifted the bulk of their restrictions by now, however.