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Airline COVID-19 man­dates con­tinue. | Flickr

“Mr. Wilson, you may not enter the jetway until the mask is over your nose.” 

These snarky words greeted me on my recent Southwest flight to Denver, Col­orado. A middle-aged woman glared at me with the con­fi­dence of a third-grade line leader. 

I grudg­ingly moved my mask one inch higher on my face and saved thou­sands of lives that day.

Actually, the only thing I accom­plished was sat­is­fying the ticket agent. She and mil­lions of Amer­icans fail to realize that we are all that stands in the way of ending pan­demic protocols.

The elites ordering us to follow non­sen­sical rules around masking, dis­tancing, and vac­ci­nating are pow­erless in the absence of our compliance.

We under­stand the virus and know who it affects — the elderly and immuno­com­pro­mised. Vac­cines of decent effec­tiveness are widely available. We know how to treat the virus (whether we choose to act on proper treat­ments is another article) and we are coming to accept that everyone will even­tually con­tract the virus, regardless of vac­ci­nation status. 

Phar­ma­ceu­tical com­panies Merck and Pfizer are nearing approval on their treatment pills.

Yet we still play March 2020 make-believe in air­ports and schools. This is because mil­lions of us are happily complacent.

There is no pushback, no debate, no walkout, no refusal on a mass scale. Amer­icans submit to the absurd and unsci­en­tific reg­u­la­tions that should have ended a year ago in every airport and major city. 

Two factors should con­vince Amer­icans to stop playing along: the rules make no sense and those in charge don’t follow them.

The American Academy of Pedi­atrics is still rec­om­mending “uni­versal school masking” for children aged 2 and over. Yet a recent Israeli study looked at 47,000 kids between the ages of  0 – 9, finding this group “did not have sub­stantial rates of SARS-CoV‑2 infection during school atten­dance periods, and it may be assumed that they did not have a sub­stantial role in COVID-19 spread.”

While children sit in dis­tanced desks in cloth masks, missing out on the most for­mative years of their lives, thou­sands of fans pack into sta­diums every week for football games. Clemson University’s season opener saw over 80,000 attendees, many of whom were unmasked.

To eat indoors in New York City you have to show your vaccine papers and in Los Angeles, you will soon have to show your card to enter most businesses.

Yet just in New York State alone, there have been 151,316 break­through cases, meaning fully vac­ci­nated indi­viduals who con­tract COVID-19. A study from Rotterdam’s Erasmus Medical Center found 85% of break­through cases are symptomatic. 

Booster shots are now widely pushed. A fourth shot is almost available for vul­nerable individuals. 

All while those in power push more orders and man­dates they fail to follow themselves.

A maskless John Kerry, U.S. pres­i­dential envoy for climate, has made mul­tiple appear­ances on flights. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer loves to party without her cloth sheet when she’s not trav­eling to Florida against her own rules. Top Democrats traveled and attended Pres­ident Joe Biden’s inau­gu­ration in January despite their rules against unnec­essary travel and large crowds. 

Don’t forget when countless politi­cians including every living pres­ident minus Jimmy Carter attended former Con­gressman John Lewis’ funeral in ​​July 2020 while everyday people could only invite a handful of friends to their loved one’s ceremony.

The elites are con­fused hyp­ocrites grasping for the control they’ve become addicted to. 

All that stands in the way of a com­plete and imme­diate return to nor­malcy are mil­lions of Amer­icans refusing to comply. 

There is simply nothing those in power can do. If thou­sands of gate agents refuse to condemn those who want to breathe, the airline can’t afford to fire them all. 

If we cease com­pliance, life will return back to normal. 

These tyran­nical pan­demic mea­sures are no longer in the hands of China, Pfizer, Pres­ident Joe Biden, Fortune 500 CEOs, or any talking head. They are in the hands of that agent at Gate D21.

Ben Wilson is a senior studying pol­itics and jour­nalism. He is the Editor-in-Chief at The Collegian.