“It is my right, given by God and the Constitution, not to wear a mask”: as Davey, resident of Huntington Beach, many in the Orange county, south of Los Angeles, stubbornly refuse to cover the face despite the Covid-19.
The father of the family wasn’t he afraid of being contaminated while the epidemic is progressing at full speed in southern California, particularly in Orange county?
“It is a hoax… the More you test people, the more you find new cases,” says calmly to the AFP, Davey, 51 years old.
If the situation is not as catastrophic as in other american regions, such as Florida or Texas, the Orange county register, all the same, nearly 250 cases per 100 000 inhabitants, or nearly ten times more than the goal set by the health authorities of California.
Davey just came out of a store where customers wearing masks and other face to face, side by side on the shelves, sometimes at very close range.
In California, the port of the mask is supposed to be mandatory for a month in all enclosed public places, and even to the outside when the separation physical is not possible.
“There is no sign at the entrance, and nobody told me anything,” quipped the man in his fifties.
“There has been a lot of protests against the closure of the beaches and the mask here… many shops do what it takes to not lose customers”, explains to the AFP, the seller of a shop, under the cover of anonymity.
In the surrounding streets, few people or tourists who wander wear a mask. Tracy, blonde athletic 25-year-old returns to the beach with his surfboard under the arm, is part of the batch.
She admits to having tried in the beginning to convince some friends and acquaintances to follow the instructions, before you resign. “It turned sometimes quickly to the argument, I don’t know why, but the topic is too sensitive. I let it go,” she said.
Freedom or death
The topic is at this sensitive point in the last month, the director of public health of Orange county has preferred to resign after repeated attacks and a threat of death: she had dared to make compulsory the wearing of the mask.
His successor was quick to delete the measure, merely “recommend” its use.
The sheriff of the county, Don Barnes, of all ways officially declared that it had no intention to apply the measure decreed by the governor of California, calling for “individual responsibility of each person”. He has since put a little water in his wine and says he is ready to punish the offenders while wanting to continue to focus on “educational approach”.
Why such a reluctance to wear the mask, in Orange County, as in many other regions of the United States?
The mask is uncomfortable and has not yet entered into the habits, as the safety belt at the time, reports Wendy Wood, who teaches psychology at USC Dornsife.
But there is “undoubtedly a political dimension”, especially in a county of Orange, who was until recently a conservative stronghold, she said.
The mask has become “politicized and has come to represent your political orientation”, she summarizes, referring to the poll showing that supporters of democrats were much more favorable to the mask and prone to the wear that the republicans and supporters of Donald Trump, himself notoriously reluctant to this accessory.
For Alison Dundes-Renteln, a specialist in political science and anthropology in USC Dornsife, the question is beyond the simple divide-partisan.
“I do not deny that there is a kind of tribalism and hyper-politicization (of the mask), but I think that it reflects the specificities of national identity in american, the fact that Americans don’t like the government to tell them what to do. “Give me liberty or give me death'”, she analyzes.
In fact, like Davey, the opponents of the mask contest as much the object itself that the right to the authorities of the imposing.
“One of the things that strikes me in this controversy, it is the wrong interpretation is made of the freedom of the individual, which is not an absolute principle” as the supreme Court has recognized, in 1905, on the subject of compulsory vaccination, ” says dr. Dundes-Renteln.