By Aaron Blake May 23, 2020 at 8:59 a.m. EDT
As states across the country have gradually pushed forward with reopening in recent weeks, protesters representing a small but apparently growing movement — especially within the Republican Party — have continued to push for it to go faster. And one very visible thing has somehow turned into a perceived political statement: wearing a mask.
A reporter at a Minnesota news station — one who happens to be an old college friend of mine — was even harassed this week for wearing a mask while covering these protests.
Across the border in North Dakota, though, GOP Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday offered a plea to stop the madness.
Burgum suggested the debate over masks was being needlessly politicized and that those who are bucking federal health officials’ guidance should rethink their posture.
“I would really love to see in North Dakota that we could just skip this thing that other parts of the nation are going through where they’re trading a divide — either it’s ideological or political or something — around masks versus no mask,” Burgum said. “This is a, I would say, senseless dividing line, and I would ask people to try to dial up your empathy and your understanding.”
The subtext of the remarks was pretty clear: This is a needless culture war.