On July 14 2020, Facebook user Ryan Thames shared the following post, along with a claim that temporary behavior intended to curb the rates of a respiratory-borne virus during a pandemic, such as recommending the widespread use of face masks to cut back on COVID-19 transmission, was indicative that the United States had become a “socialist country”:
No explanation was provided for the unsettling image which accompanied Thames’ post, but a May 2016 Reddit post said that the image was taken just before World War II in Japan:
Information about the image was very scarce online, but a 2012 photography blog post identified it as one of several works by Masao Horino featured in an exhibition that year:
I get the distinct feeling that the war affected Horino deeply; some of his most striking pictures of that era included the gas mask parade in Tokyo, shown above, and a celebration parade in honor of kamikaze (suicide bomber) pilots. As mentioned before, after the war, Horino stopped exhibiting his work, claiming that it was lost in the war.
Thames either wrote or copied text which began:
IT’S JUST A MASK. IT’S JUST A VACCINE
“In 4 months, the U.S. transformed into an obedient socialist country. Government dictated what events are acceptable to attend. Violent protests that instill fear are OK but church services, family funerals and patriotic celebrations are dangerous. And you bought it without a fight.
Standing in a graduation line is a “safety hazard”. Small businesses were forced to close but crowds to support the corporate money machine at WalMart, Lowes and Home Depot are OK.
Come on. It’s “just a mask” & “safety precautions”.
How about a little hush money. Here’s $2,400 that we stole out of your pay check in the first place. Enjoy. Buy something with it. From a big corporation.
The post was clearly shaping up to be a Gish Gallop, cramming an impressive number of false, misleading, or otherwise inaccurate claims into five one-sentence paragraphs. It continued:
Cash is dirty. We can’t give change. There’s a coin shortage. Use your card. In 4 months, they convinced you to use a traceable card for everything.
In less than 4 months, government closed public schools then “restructured” education under the guise of “public safety”. In less than 4 months, our government demonstrated how easily people assimilate to “guidelines” that have NO scientific premise whatsoever when you are fearful.
In less than 4 months, our government successfully instilled fear in a majority of the population in America that allows them to control every aspect of your life. Including what you eat, where you go, who you see and your toilet paper.
And the most dangerous and terrifying part? People are not afraid of the government who removed their freedom. They’re afraid of their neighbors, family and friends.
And they hate those who won’t comply.
It’s absolutely terrifying to me that so many people don’t question “authority”. They are willing to surrender their critical thinking skills and independence. They just… gave up without thinking. Without a fight.
Do you know what’s coming next?
“It’s just a vaccine. Come on. It’s for the greater good”.
Wait until you’re told that you can’t enter any store or business without proof of the Covid-19 vaccine. Wait until you can’t go to public events or get on a plane without proof of receiving the vaccine.
To everyone that doesn’t believe this is possible – DO YOU UNDERSTAND that government successfully dictated to people WHEN they were allowed to be outside, where they were allowed to go, and how their children would be educated in less than 4 months? And that a majority of the population followed blindly because they were told to do so.
You’re kidding yourself if you think this behavior won’t be repeated with a vaccine. Or whatever the next step is.
“I don’t follow politics.”
“Who cares about that stuff?” “I don’t like to think about it.”
They got you. Without a thought. Without a fight. Just like France. Just like Russia. Just like China. Welcome, comrade.”
The mark of the beast is coming!
‘Transformed into a Socialist Country’
We’ll attempt to address elements of the post that are not opinion or speculation:
In 4 months, the U.S. transformed into an obedient socialist country.
This post started off with a demonstrably false premise — that due to the use of masks and the anticipation of a vaccine for COVID-19, the United States had somehow “transformed” into a “socialist” country:
Socialism describes any political or economic theory that says the community, rather than individuals, should own and manage property and natural resources. The term “socialism” has been applied to very different economic and political systems throughout history, including utopianism, anarchism, Soviet communism and social democracy. These systems vary widely in structure, but they share an opposition to an unrestricted market economy, and the belief that public ownership of the means of production (and making money) will lead to better distribution of wealth and a more egalitarian society.
Kemp filed suit against Lance Bottoms and Atlanta’s city council on [July 16 2020], arguing the city’s mask requirement violates a statewide executive order he signed [July 15 2020] that voids local mask mandates.
Protests are ‘OK’ but Other Activities are Dangerous
The post continued:
Government dictated what events are acceptable to attend.
Violent protests that instill fear are OK but church services, family funerals and patriotic celebrations are dangerous.
Again, the claims were demonstrably false to anyone who had witnessed the events of April through July 2020. The referenced protests, far from encouraged by local police, involved a heavily militarized response covered in global news reports:
In July 2020, federal agents in Portland began detaining individuals in response to the protests, in a widely-criticized spate of random arrests.
And you bought it without a fight.
The suggestion that it was fabricated to target Americans’ liberties was clearly preposterous. Nevertheless, demonstrations opposing everything from masks to stay-at-home orders were rife from April 2020 onward:
Clearly, “without a fight” did not accurately describe those efforts:
COVID-19 is Used to Kill Small Business and Prop Up Big Chains
Standing in a graduation line is a “safety hazard”
Small businesses were forced to close but crowds to support the corporate money machine at WalMart, Lowes and Home Depot are OK.
Again, the post misrepresents then very recent history. Walmart, for instance, not uncommonly the only source for groceries in many parts of the United States — and as such is an essential business. That said, several big chains as of May 2020 had yet to open their doors:
As some states lurch toward restarting their economies after coronavirus closures, many big companies remain hesitant to open their doors.
Macy’s Inc., Gap Inc. and TGI Fridays Inc. are among the big national chains saying they will sit out the early phase of reopening in states such as Georgia and South Carolina, citing health concerns and uncertain customer demand. Other businesses, including Best Buy Co. and Starbucks Corp., will also continue in lockdown mode, keeping stores closed to shoppers and fulfilling online orders …
Jurisdictional permission to reopen was hardly the only issue facing independent small businesses during the pandemic:
Small business owners across the U.S. are in an impossible situation: They fear that their firms may go under in a matter of months if state lockdowns caused by Covid-19 don’t end, and yet many also are worried that reopening business too soon may result in the same fate.
The economic reopening from state to state remains a source of uncertainty rather than confidence for many small business owners.
[Business owner Marilyn] Landis, whose business is based in Pennsylvania, said businesses in neighboring states fear that staggered reopenings could create competitive imbalances in hiring, supply chains and market share. Ohio is already reopening in stages, and sooner than Pennsylvania. That means a Pennsylvania firm could see workers poached and supply contracts as well as market share permanently taken away.
“The unknowns in the rolling reopening is really hard, and really taking a toll on confidence,” Landis said.
Small business owners also fear that bigger companies will be in a better position to take advantage of the reopenings. “There are big warning signs about consolidation,” Ballantyne said.
This leads business owners to worry about exacerbating a second wave of Covid-19 cases, reopening under conditions which will inevitably include both high-risk workers and customers.
It was true that COVID-19 was likely a far heavier burden to independent businesses, but the basic conditions of the situation (not an effort to favor large chains) was a primary cause. Moreover, businesses feared rushing to open would prolong the severe conditions of the early days of COVID-19.
The Coin Shortage, and Why Circulation is Disrupted
Continuing on with its reimagining of events through which all people reading had recently lived, the post claimed:
Cash is dirty. We can’t give change. There’s a coin shortage.
Use your card. In 4 months, they convinced you to use a traceable card for everything.
Most Americans likely spotted signage about a coin shortage when out and about doing business. As one might expect, the drastically reduced movement of people during the pandemic was predictably followed by a drastic reduction in the circulation of coins and paper money:
As the spreading coronavirus and resulting business closures crippled economic activity in the United States, the circulation of coins dropped off significantly. The U.S. Mint, which manufactures the nation’s coin supply, also decreased staffing in response to the pandemic.
As the nation’s businesses have reopened, demand for coins has exceeded the available supply.
Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on June 17 that the coin shortage has resulted from the partial closure of the economy.
“With the partial closure of the economy, the flow of funds through the economy has stopped,” he said. “We are working with the Mint and the Reserve Banks, and as the economy re-opens, we are starting to see money move around again.”
It probably also won’t surprise you to learn that as of 2019, cash was used in only 26 percent of transactions in the United States — as such, people had already been “convinced” to use a “traceable” plastic or metal card for most commerce. That was down from 30 percent in 2017.
Furthermore, anyone worried about being traced through credit or debit card use ought to reconsider carrying a mobile phone. It is far easier to track any individual via their phone than it is through financial records limited in scope — you’re probably not using your credit card in the bathroom, but you’re probably on your phone.
Schools are Being Restructured for Something Nefarious
Next, the post alleged that schools were being repurposed, perhaps as secretive indoctrination zones:
In less than 4 months, government closed public schools then “restructured” education under the guise of “public safety”.
If you are the parent of school age children, you’re likely extremely, painfully aware that there is no centralized or firm decision about whether schools will open in August and September of 2020. On July 15 2020, CNN reported:
School districts across the country are being forced to reconsider their reopening plans and even reverse course for the upcoming [2020-2021] school year, as coronavirus infection rates continue to spike and new hot spots emerge.
With conflicting opinions and contradictory plans continuing to emerge, here is where school reopening plans stand in big cities.
It seems safe to say that before the architects of the coronavirus socialism plot executed their “infiltrate the schools” effort, there first needed to be an answer to the question of whether schools would open at all and how students would be taught during an active pandemic.
‘No Scientific Premise Whatsoever’
Perhaps the most frustrating claim in a maelstrom of irritatingly false assertions was this:
In less than 4 months, our government demonstrated how easily people assimilate to “guidelines” that have NO scientific premise whatsoever when you are fearful.
The post’s author had a list of grievances encompassing — but not limited to — masks, a possible COVID-19 vaccine, Main Street vs. Wall Street, schools, cash and coins, and socialism.
Among the railed-against guidelines, things like “masks” and “a vaccine” were firmly the opposite of having “no scientific premise whatsoever,” and a suggestion to the contrary was laughable.
Masks were recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and public health experts, with ample evidence they stalled transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The entire planet eagerly awaited a vaccine to resume a post-pandemic life, one borne of and produced by science (and its evidence.)
Social distancing, the use of masks, and vaccines are neither new nor unscientific in nature. Masks and social distancing were even part and parcel of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, credited with reducing transmission:
A Facebook post in the burgeoning genre of “COVID fanfiction” made a stunning amount of stupid, baseless, and outright false claims about the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic — despite the fact everyone reading the post was present for the events so inaccurately described. Alongside a photograph of pre-WWII Japan, a user bemoaned a combination of falsehoods, uninformed opinion, and speculation about the events of the pandemic. As noted above, most of those things were due to a mundane or naturally occurring cause. In most cases, that cause was the unfortunate fact all of us remain subject to the forces of a sudden and dangerous pandemic.