News & Politics

Oregon County Will No Longer Exempt People of Color From Wearing Masks

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The Oregon county that issued an order that exempts people of color from having to wear a mask if they were “worried about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public” has changed its mind about the policy.

Lincoln County officials were inundated with phone calls and emails angry about the decision. Twitter blew up over the issue. Within 24 hours, the county had heard enough and rescinded the exemption.

The policy was incredibly stupid in the first place.

USA Today:

The directive, passed on June 16, went viral after a New York Post story with the headline: “Oregon county issues face mask order that exempts non-white people.”

By Wednesday, as the story spread and a small office in Newport was bombarded with thousands of angry emails and phone calls, the county revised the directive and eliminated the exception, saying that it “does more harm than good.”

Let me get this straight. Black people who fear racial profiling don’t want to cover their faces? I’ve seen some masks where you couldn’t easily tell the race of someone. And if everyone is wearing a mask, so why on earth would anyone harass you?

“We included the protections for those within our communities of color who historically, and often personally, found themselves the victims of harassment and violence,” the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners and County Management team said in a statement Wednesday evening. “We are shocked and appalled at the volume of horrifically racist commentary we have received regarding this policy exemption.”

Officials claim they were “well-intentioned.” Toward whom? As a question of public health, the mask exemption is appalling. It places one of the most vulnerable segments of the population at risk just so the county officials can feel good about themselves for being so tolerant and open-minded.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown agreed with the policy in principle but also found the exemption a threat to public health.

“However, it is also the case that Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and other communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and disparities in our health system,” [Charlie’s ] Boyle, deputy communications director for Brown] said. “For the state’s face covering requirements, public health and stopping the spread of this disease is our top priority.”

Is it really “racism” against white people to exempt black people from wearing a mask? You and I might define racism differently than the county officials — you know, like, using a dictionary definition and stuff.

But the policy isn’t racist in any sense. It’s just plain stupid. In their eagerness to get on the racialist bandwagon and beat their chests, proving they’re not racists like those other white folks, they fashioned a policy designed to kill a lot of people — white and black.

Lord, what fools these mortals be.