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Pandemic, Demagoguery, and Right-Wing Authoritarianism, Vol. 30 - 2023, No. 1

Guest Edited by Robert L. Ivie

The Mask of War and the War of Masks: The Fabricated Culture War Gets Deadly

, pages: 111-127

In the US, mask wearing, while opposed and evaded by people all over the political spectrum (albeit not equally), was disproportionately associated with reactionary political affiliation, especially in its most demagogic and violent forms. Anti-mask demagoguery associated mask wearing and mask mandates with communism, Nazism, satanism, genocide, suicide and a war on America. This article argues that this demagoguery was not unique to masks or COVID-19, but the rhetorical consequence of the pro-GOP strategic repurposing of twentieth-century anti-communist demagoguery. This demagoguery (which arose after World War I) framed all policy disagreements, not as issues with multiple legitimate perspectives that could be argued qua policies, but as battles in an apocalyptic war between good and evil, and therefore beyond normal political disagreement.

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