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OPINION: Don’t think wearing a mask keeps us safe from COVID? I ain’t mad at cha

Jana Seidel, employee of the automotive supplier C.H. Müller GmbH, demonstrates the use of a reusable mask with a copper-containing filter. HENDRIK SCHMIDT / PICTURE-ALLIANCE / DPA / AP IMAGES
Jana Seidel, employee of the automotive supplier C.H. Müller GmbH, demonstrates the use of a reusable mask with a copper-containing filter. HENDRIK SCHMIDT / PICTURE-ALLIANCE / DPA / AP IMAGES

Every day, I’m reminded of how divided we are as a nation — when it comes to racism, to police brutality, to climate change and economics.

The one thing I thought we could at least reach a reasonable consensus on would’ve been the efficacy of face masks against the coronavirus.

Despite the science that says wearing one not only protects ourselves but also protects the people we love the most, people are actually comparing orders to wear one to the Holocaust.

Credit: AJC

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she would sign an order Wednesday requiring the use of masks in the city.

Credit: AJC

How we descended into this social and political quagmire is just mind-boggling.

Reading through just last week’s email in response to a column I wrote about the importance of wearing a mask, I got another glimpse into the deepening divide, and I’m more worried about the state of this nation than I’ve ever been in my life.

While none seem to mind my using their comments, none gave me permission to use their names.

One, who identified herself as a clinical health care worker, conceded my fact-finding was valid but wrote the mask trend was just cute, not necessary.

“Maybe u should write an article telling the importance of wearing a condom during this pandemic because sex trafficking in metro Atlanta and is more set than the coronavirus,” she continued after telling me the piece was poorly written. “Mary Norwood should’ve been mayor of the city of Atlanta.”

I don’t recall hearing from the reader before, but there were many others who weighed in that write often, who even when they agree with me, take every opportunity to remind me of my biases.

RELATED | There are no ifs, ands or buts: Not wearing a mask is pure selfishness

Studies show that community mask use can be beneficial, particularly for COVID-19 transmission, but they want to know why I haven’t written about sex trafficking or abortion. I’ve written about both and will continue to for as long as I have this space.

And so you might understand why their riffs and reasoning render me speechless.

Searching my heart, I couldn’t help channeling the late Tupac Shakur — I ain’t mad at cha.

Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.
Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.

Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I mention the dramatic spike in cases and deaths, but instead of taking issue with that or any number of other facts, another gentleman says the column “might have meant something” had I warned against voting for candidates who are pro abortion or mentioned the fact that protesters and rioters are not social distancing or wearing masks.

“Even though you have mentioned my Savior Jesus in the past…and you can’t call out to people to stop with killing souls who our Lord knew before they where in the womb…well that speaks volumes….your to much into science Gracie…in my Triune God’s world…2 plus 2 equals 5 not 4…..so please Gracie feel free to wear a mask to protect yourself….I’m a believer in the herd immunity…some of us will sacrifice our life for the greatest country our Lord has put on this earth…sure we have done some evil things ….however we have done alot more good than bad…plus we are a protector of Israel….does it get any better than that!!!….if 500000 thousand of us die to save 10 million isn’t it worth it to keep our economy going?….and for people not to lose everything?….you sound like a fascist Gracie….do some reading about reasons not to wear a mask.”

Those are his words, his ellipses or as it were dot-dot-dots. He didn’t refuse my request to use his name. He simply didn’t respond. I wasn’t surprised but I ain’t mad.

I hear from people like him every day. All day. Take this man, an Atlanta resident, who also didn’t want to be identified but who likes to use exclamation points and hurl insults.

RELATED | As Georgia COVID-19 cases rise, Kemp has no plans for new restrictions

“I’m not fully convinced about wearing a mask, and I base that on a question someone asked several weeks ago, but as of yet have heard no one answer! If wearing a mask works, why do we need social distancing? And if social distancing works, why do we need masks? And if both work, why is it necessary to close things down especially parks, beaches, etc? They certainly haven’t shut down protests!

“Also, there is no reason you cannot do the things you say you miss, church, Sunday School, etc. All you have to say is ‘this is a BLM protest rally’ and everything will be fine, because those have never been denied or shut down! If someone doesn’t want to believe you, show them a brick you brought to throw! So go out and enjoy the 4th and this coming Sunday!”

The temptation is to strike back but, nah, I ain’t mad.

Gov. Brian Kemp took part in a “Wear a Mask” Flyaround Tour of Georgia, encouraging Georgians to follow the guidance of public health officials to stop the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the July Fourth weekend. REBECCA WRIGHT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Gov. Brian Kemp took part in a “Wear a Mask” Flyaround Tour of Georgia, encouraging Georgians to follow the guidance of public health officials to stop the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the July Fourth weekend. REBECCA WRIGHT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

I get the feeling you understand more about what I’m saying than you’re willing to admit. I think that’s why you offer deflections rather than deal with the subject at hand.

“I totally agree with you about wearing masks,” another reader told me. “I write you often and don’t agree with you much. I am a Republican and a retired RN. The issue of masks does tend to be political, unfortunately.”

Just when I thought I might be making progress, the missive went off the wall.

“It is stunning to me that you and the moronic talking heads on mainstream media COMPLETELY gloss over the fact that the current spikes in cases can also be attributed to the hundreds of thousands of protesters and rioters since May 25th! The timeline is very clear. You never mentioned that in your article! You clearly implicated the Republican governors who open their states and aren’t mandating the masks, but you totally gave a pass to the protesters and rioters! That was a very dishonest omission of facts on your part.

“If there is another spike in 2-4 weeks and there are protest marches today for the 4th, I bet you never mention them as a contributing factor to increased numbers. No, you and the media will only attribute those numbers to Trump’s appearance at Mt Rushmore and Republican governors. Don’t you see how your credibility is questioned when your bias is so blatant?”

No, I don’t see. The vast majority of protesters I saw actually wore a mask. I mentioned President Trump and other Republican leaders, not because of party affiliation or because I dislike them. I mentioned them because not only have they refused to wear a mask or mandate wearing one, they decided to open despite warnings of a spike. I mentioned them because I expect more from them and so should you.

But go ahead, deflect from the real issue, question my credibility. I ain’t mad at cha. I ain’t got nuttin but love for ya.

Find Gracie on Facebook (www.facebook.com/graciestaplesajc/) and Twitter (@GStaples_AJC) or email her at gstaples@ajc.com.