Mask Protests On Planes Are Not Conservative

New video circulating on social media appears to show an African American Trump supporter kicked off of a Southwest Airlines flight for taking down his mask ‘while eating’. The suggestion is that he’s really being kicked off for being a Trump supporter while following the rules. However as both One Mile at a Time and Live and Let’s Fly point out, the video seems selectively edited and passengers offering supportive commentary around him may actually be travel companions ‘in on it’ trying to make a stink about mask wearing on board.

What gives it away for me is the lack of sympathy from the rest of passengers – as the man deplanes, one can be heard saying “please leave so we can leave” and a supporter in the video declaring being kicked off a plane for not wearing a mask to “what they said in Germany…just comply.”

It’s possible to believe both that,

  1. This is a put up job by people trying to manufacture a video for social media, and

  2. It was easy to bait crew into believing the passenger was intentionally violating airline policy because of the visible political gear, especially after the man singing “Trump Trump Trump” as he’s escorted off a plane for refusing to wear a mask, and after the black conservative activist posted from a plane encouraging Trump supporters to fake mask compliance.

Here are the videos, see for yourself:

The important point here is that – no – this is nothing like the German government exterminating six million Jews. And mask protests on planes are not conservative.

Conservatives used to believe that government was a threat to liberty, that businesses could make rules for themselves and enforce those rules. Indeed, by allowing businesses to set rules you’d have competition and choice. Unlike United and American, for instance, Delta will allow customers with a medical reason not to wear a mask after a consult with their physician, and won’t require two year olds to wear masks.

Masks are a conservative alternative to lock downs. Targeted approaches to controlling the virus like limits on large indoor gatherings and requiring customers to wear masks are far less intrusive than the big government policies pursued at the beginning of the pandemic. These limited encroachments allow businesses to re-open and allow people to go about their lives in the face of the global pandemic.

I’ve argued against government mask mandates even though I am ‘pro-mask’. Someone who is ostensibly ‘conservative’ should favor businesses and business owners voluntarily exercising their freedom to have mask wearing requirements for their customers.

Arguments against masks are fair to deploy to convince a business to change its policy. Unfortunately – and I’ve asked readers who oppose masks over and over – I have yet to hear one.

  • Yes, government officials lied and claimed masks weren’t a good idea at the start of the pandemic. Anthony Fauci admits it was a lie, and that he lied, because he wanted to buy time for hosptials and governments to buy good masks without competition from the government. But that just means masks were a better idea than we were told, not that businesses insisting on masks is bad.

  • Yes, some people don’t know how to wear them. But that’s an argument for mask education. Maybe airlines should be adding mask instruction to their inflight entertainment, whether it’s seat back or streaming.

  • Yes, masks could be treated as a panacea and encourage risky behavior. (Although this study out of Italy finds that masks encourage more conservative behavior: seeing the masks reminds us to take greater care rather than .

    In either case it’s not a relevant factor once people are already on a plane. It is better for those people to wear masks than not wear masks (mask wearing won’t convince someone already traveling to travel, for instance). I suppose the Straussian argument would be that if people weren’t allowed to wear masks they would be too afraid to travel and that’s better, but I don’t find that especially persuasive (and people arguing against masks also usually argue that the virus is less dangerous, not that no one should be traveling).

  • Yes the public should have access to better masks and it is a huge failure that this far into the pandemic N95 masks or their equivalent cannot be found in convenience stores the way they are in South Korea. There’s an argument for mask standards (airlines not allowing neck gaiters for instance), not an argument against masks generally.

British researchers found that everyone wearing 50% effective masks is enough to slow the spread of the virus (homemade masks are probably more than 50% effective). Indeed another study suggests even 50% effective masks can reduce viral load exposure 10-fold. A German study found masks reduce the growth rate of infections by 40%. And use of quality masks by half the population does the same thing.

If you do not like to wear masks it’s unfortunate that no significant U.S. airline is catering to your preferences (I have long had complaints about the industry being to homogenous and not offering the products I’d like to buy). But that’s their right – a right conservatives have traditionally defended.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Masks are not necessarily an alternative to lock downs. They are both part of a multi-pronged strategy so that if any one prong fails (people go out and travel anyways), the other prongs can prevent infection. Painting it as binary in this way is not accurate.

  2. Conservatives used to believe that government was a threat to liberty,

    This has never been a traditional conservative position. This is a libertarian / anarchist position. Believing in limited regulation is not the same as opposing “government”. Conservatives have traditionally been supportive of government while debating it’s precise role in ways that, at present, seem fairly trivial.

    Masks are a conservative alternative to lock downs.

    The hypocrisy around business enforcing a dress / sanitary code is (no shirt, no shoes, no mask — no service) is stunning. I’ve actually had a faux libertarian tell me it’s such an infringement on his freedom to have to wear a mask that he doesn’t leave his house. I mean, freedom much?

  3. Of the three studies that you cite, only one makes a convincing attempt to show that “wearing masks slows the spread of the virus.” The studies by Stutt et al and Goyal et al are both just mathematical modeling exercises that rely on a bevy of possibly reasonable or unreasonable assumptions. The study by Mitze et al is of a much higher quality, since it uses real world data from a “natural experiment.” However, what it actually shows is that transmission of the virus tended to decrease after the introduction of mask mandates in various regions of Germany, not that the masks actually caused the decrease. It is possible that the announcement of a mask mandate alarms people and causes them to stay home more or more consciously distance themselves from others.

    These studies illustrate two major flaws with academic work in the social sciences and in public health: (1) useful and interesting data is hard to come by, so it’s easier to make some assumptions and perform a mathematical modeling exercise, and (2) when data comes from something other than a series of carefully designed and controlled experiments, it tends to only show correlation rather than causation.

  4. So two questions were not answered though:

    1) Is it permissible to lower your mask to eat on the plane? It’s either a yes or a no but the FA is silent. Why?
    2) If the answer to #1 is yes, then are their guidelines that its only for a certain amount of time etc., Once again if you cant answer yes or no to question 1 then yes other factors, like they don’t like the Trump mask or hat, become possible.

    You’re speculating and leaping to a conclusion but you can easily leap to the opposite. BECAUSE Southwest has not cleared it up. Start with question 1.

  5. Well said Gary! As someone who falls right in the middle of the political spectrum, perhaps a little on the liberatarian side, I fail to understand why something so simple as mask wearing while indoors is a cause for controversy. People the world over have sacrificed for a common good for eons. Also, your point about the right traditionally supporting the right of businesses to set their own rules is so true. I guess COVID has muddled what it means to be conservative.

  6. “Yes, government officials lied and claimed masks weren’t a good idea at the start of the pandemic. Anthony Fauci admits it was a lie, and that he lied, because he wanted to buy time for hosptials and governments to buy good masks without competition from the government.”

    This statement clearly demonstrates Gary’s ignorance. Anyone that would that believe that story is incapable of critical thought. It also begs the question, “Was he lying then or is he lying now?”

    Finally, anyone who suggests the airlines are making face diaper mandates in a free market vacuum, is conveniently ignoring the $25 billion bailouts and how easy it would be for the government to impose their will in this area. With all the rules, regulations and mandates, throughout the nation, suggesting that face diaper mandates are simply businesses acting under their own free will is ludicrous.

  7. @James N – airlines aren’t IMPOSING MASK RULES O AVOID GOVERNMENT RULES (i.e. ‘under threat of government’) airlines have literally been asking government to impose these rules to take them off the hook.

  8. Yea Gary still not buying it. If you can’t answer question #1 then you’re basically just making stuff up. It was a reasonable question and the FA didn’t answer. The link to your buddy’s twitter cleared nothing up. An after the fact SW statement that didn’t match what’s on tape is really weak.

    Why didn’t the FA state the SW cooperate statement? Was he taking too long to eat his snack and just abusing the rules? Didn’t seem that long. Cat got his tongue I guess?

    He got mad at the guy and didn’t want to answer question #1 because?? He knew the answer was yes you can lower your mask to eat and drink. Much easier to just dodge the issue.

    That seems more plausible. I can’t say whether the Trump gear was a factor but lets face it a lot of folks in authority these days seem to think its a license for bad behavior. You never, ever hear of the reverse.

    Pretty big stretch to leap to “its a mask protest”.

  9. Gary, why are you referring to him as an “African American Trump supporter” in the opening sentence? Had he been white, I doubt you would have said “white Trump supporter”.

  10. “…airlines have literally been asking government to impose these rules to take them off the hook.”

    Which clearly validates my point that it isn’t happening in a free market. Wow, you truly are as ignorant as I thought.

  11. @James N – if what you’re saying is (1) government exists (2) therefore we don’t have a free market (3) so businesses shouldn’t be able to make their own rules for customers, because those are really government rules that limit freedom that’s a pretty remarkable claim. It would suggest that the mere existence of the state eliminates all freedom, that it’s all or nothing. Regardless of how plausible this is philosophically (it’s not) it does nothing whatsoever to undermine my central claim that this *is not a conservative position* it’s a pretty radical one.

  12. Gary – this is this a mask protest?

    The SJW kicking him off the plane couldn’t recite the rules on eating while the mask is off, but all you can focus on is a possible mask protest?

    Quick – send your resume to CNN while you’re at it, too..

  13. No, Rob Carlin. It is not the same guy, This gentleman’s name is Philip Ndifon and, as far as I can tell from social media and the fact that there are no other such claims, he seems like a credible young man.

  14. @Gary (1) Thanks Captain Obvious. (2) Nice straw man. (3) Nothing I’ve written even remotely resembles that remark.
    “It would suggest that the mere existence of the state eliminates all freedom,…”
    Only in your clearly warped mind. I’ve in no way suggested that.

    “…undermine my central claim that this *is not a conservative position*…”
    Something that I’ve never commented on. You need to stay on point. The airlines are not making the decision to wear face diapers relative to a free market and are most likely doing so, like basically every other business, due to government rules and mandates. To suggest otherwise, demonstrates you haven’t been paying attention for the past seven months. Wake up sheeple!

  15. @Gary – not sure why you bother engaging with this James N troll, he is a one note “this is a plandemic! masks are face diapers!” troll who posts the same drivel for months and months on end.

    Something tells me he and a lot of your other “random” posters will disappear come 11/4 or there-abouts once Biden is declared the victor (my same hypothesis to Matthew). Can’t imagine all this traffic + certain posters only showing up on the political-related posts are normal.

  16. Its come to the point where people need to understand that anti-maskers want to remain ignorant. They aren’t people looking to get educated. They don’t care. They made their decision to believe whatever nonsense they believe and its that simple. They don’t care about science or actual facts. You can provide them study after study showing masks work it won’t matter. You could give them thousands of studies showing masks make a difference and they still won’t care. They are simply selfish ignorant people who really aren’t worth the time even trying to talk to, because they would rather people die than having to endure the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask.

  17. Sorry, Bill, but you’ve got it backwards. The fact that you and others of your ilk haven’t figured out this scam clearly demonstrates your ignorance. It should be apparent to anyone with a few functioning brain cells. The evidence is overwhelming.

  18. “voluntarily exercising their freedom” is why the US leads the world in deaths.

    Masks need to be mandated by the govt. Give people freedom, you end up with anarchy, which is what you’re seeing now. There are many who do not have the education to realise the consequences of their actions, and you have the arrogant who care not. And this is why, in the UK, we are in a full blown (predicted) 2nd wave because people were given their freedoms back.

  19. @Panda Mick – that’s an unpopular view in the middle of America. This type of freedom doesn’t imply empathy for healthcare workers, folks in SNFs and convalescent homes, the general elderly and other vulnerable populations.

    Unless I’m wrong, and non-mandate / freedom of business somehow protects the general population. I’m not seeing it, hopefully someone can clarify.

  20. @James N – we get it, you think this whole mask thing is just some scam, blah blah blah.

    Maybe shift gears a bit and tell us all about QAnon? Any word yet on finding proof of the deep state blood sucking / pedophilia ring? Is Q gonna come rescue the country from the tyranny of “face diapers”?

  21. Reminds me of this story:

    One uses water the other uses nuts as as a prop to never put on the mask. The FA said they asked him multiple times to put it on per SW and I believe it. The FA would not put himself out there like that if this was not real. He knew he was recorded and that the incident would be investigated. Just because you dont see the rest in which he was asked to put it on doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. They had an agenda, their not going to record that part. All 4 were in on this. The one yacking likely without a mask is supposedly a civil rights lawyer. How convenient she was on board. Not a race issue not a trump issue. The instigator intentionally wore the hat, when it alone didn’t lead to problems he intentionally didn’t wear the mask. For those supporting him, he’s not even wearing the mask while the FA talks with him! If my mask protects you and vice versa then why is he not protecting the FA the way the FA protects him? He’s sooo calm too, easy to do when it’s not real, pretending to be so innocent.

    For the person who asked why Gary entitled it black man with a trump hat…what is your issue with that ? He was stating the facts. It was no coincidence he was the one of the 4 involved that was the star. If we can’t get Delta on the political discrimination, we will play the race card.

    Shame on these frauds

  22. If you are a planning to de-mask in my space, don’t fly. I don’t want to sit next to you. I wear my mask because I want to provide a barrier that in many instances can protect me from you. It is not a 100% barrier to microbes, but if it gives me 50% protection I am satisfied that I have done what I can. If you don’t care about my safety, get off the plane. Your rights to refrain from masking don’t supersede mine to remain healthy.

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