The Great Divide About The Great Reopening

Yesterday the B.A. Jersey Girl, the Bus-Riding Conservative, and I went out for a “taco Thursday” lunch. As has been the case since September, we faithfully donned masks when we entered the restaurant, wore them until we sat down, were served by masked employees, and donned masks again for the brief period between leaving our table and reaching the outside sidewalk. After we removed the masks again, we wondered: when is the City of Columbus mask mandate going to end? When are we going to get back to what we used to think of as “normal”?

Across the country, there are signs that society is on the cusp of what we might call the Great Reopening, with some states lifting their mask mandates and changes being made to vaccination requirements and other COVID-related policies. But it’s pretty clear that there is a very strong difference of opinion about whether a Great Reopening right now, or even in the immediately foreseeable future, is a good idea. The Atlantic recently ran an interesting article called “Open Everything” that argued–persuasively, in my opinion–that it is time to end all COVID restrictions. The reaction to the article on social media showed, however, that there is a sharp divide about what to do, and when. And the opinions on both sides are being voiced in the strongest terms possible, with reopeners being depicted as reckless morons who are putting lives at risk and non-reopeners presented as crazed Karens who revel in the ability to control every aspect of our lives and want to preserve that power.

The country has been through a lot since COVID first entered the lexicon two years ago, and superheated rhetoric about what to do next isn’t going to help us get over that experience. There’s nothing wrong with people expressing their views, but it sure would be nice to see the differences discussed in a reasonable and respectful way, with some effort to understand the differing views and without the inflammatory epithets. That’s part of the true “normal” that we need to get back to, and demonizing people of opposing viewsas killers or lunatics isn’t going to help us reach that goal.

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