Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A counter-protestor holds a sign during the Michigan Conservative Coalition-organized "Operation Haircut" outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on May 20, 2020. (Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)

'A Misbegotten, Warped Freedom Obsession Is Killing Us': Video of Trumpian Anti-Mask Jerks Goes Viral

"Freedom is wasted on people who think coughing on people is freedom."

Julia Conley

Author Anand Giridharadas on Friday shared on social media what he called an "end-of-empire" video featuring a compilation of Americans refusing to wear face masks in public places, purposefully coughing on others, and claiming their "freedom" is being trampled by public health guidance urging social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"A misbegotten, warped freedom obsession is killing us," Giridharadas tweeted. 

In the video, one woman curses at and tries to hit a store employee after being refused entry for not wearing a face mask; another screams at workers and reaches over a plastic barricade to assault them; a man tells a Costco employee he doesn't have to wear a mask because he "woke up in a free country," and one woman tells a grocery store manager that she can't wear a mask due to a medical condition and that she can't use a delivery service because she wants to buy "private" items.

Several people also cough on and spit at essential employees. 

"Freedom is wasted on people who think coughing on people is freedom," Giridharadas said.

The video follows a number of small but well-publicized demonstrations by people calling on state officials to fully reopen the economy and end all guidance urging social distancing and mask-wearing to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

Many of the anti-quarantine protests are organized and promoted by conservative groups with ties to Trump administration officials, including the Convention of States, whose past supporters include immigration official Ken Cuccinelli and HUD Secretary Ben Carson; and the Michigan Freedom Fund, which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has donated to regularly. 

Contrary to the message pushed by the demonstrations and the people in the video, the vast majority of Americans support safety measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. 

A HuffPost/YouGov survey published this week showed 62% of respondents said wearing a face mask is a matter of public health, not personal preference. More than half of those surveyed said they are currently wearing a mask whenever they are in a public place where they might come into contact with others.

Large majorities of respondents from across the political spectrum reported that they view mask-wearing as "respectful," not a sign of "weakness" or unnecessary fear of the virus. 

If President Donald Trump and other right-wing politicians demanding an end to public safety measures have their way, Giridharadas tweeted, images of the vocal minority shown in the video will illustrate the downfall of U.S. society in its current state. 

"If we somehow save ourselves and come back, they will be forgotten eventually," he wrote. "But if we continue to decay and fall, these will be studied in history classes in some society saner than ours."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

AOC Slams Conservative Dems Who Would Rather Skip Town Than Vote to Extend Eviction Ban

"We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority."

Jake Johnson ·


'A Devastating Failure': Eviction Ban Expires as House Goes on Vacation and Biden Refuses to Act

"We’re now in an eviction emergency," said Rep. Cori Bush. "Eleven million are now at risk of losing their homes at any moment. The House needs to reconvene and put an end to this crisis."

Jake Johnson ·


With Election Days Away, Bernie Sanders Headlines Get-Out-the-Vote Rally for Nina Turner

In his keynote speech, Sanders said corporate interests are pulling out all the stops to defeat Turner because "they know that when she is elected, she is going to stand up and take them on in the fight for justice."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush, Pressley, and Omar Sleep Outside Capitol to Demand Extension of Eviction Moratorium

Rep. Cori Bush, who was formerly unhoused, slammed her Democratic colleagues who "chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes."

Jake Johnson ·


As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·