Mask Rebellion at the Kentucky Derby - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Mask Rebellion at the Kentucky Derby
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Kentucky Derby attendees, May 1, 2021 (Lexington Herald Leader/YouTube screenshot)

The first Saturday in May has become a holiday of sorts to me. Every year, I make it a point to attend the running of the Kentucky Derby at beautiful Churchill Downs in Louisville. It’s a spectacle with all my favorite ingredients: family, friends, food, mint juleps, and classic Southern charm, all wrapped around the most exciting two minutes in sports. The people in the stands look gorgeous, dressed to the nines. The weather this year was 70 degrees and sunny. Right before the big race, the University of Louisville marching band played the time-honored classic “My Old Kentucky Home,” as they have since the 1920s. Thankfully, the state anthem was not canceled on derby day, as some on the militant Left have desired. All in all, this year’s derby was one of my favorites. But something different happened this year, something that I didn’t expect. This year’s derby was more than just the wonderful day I described. This year’s derby was essentially a protest.

As my partner and I entered the gates, the expected “masks required” signs were displayed. No shock there. While the mask mandate was recently relaxed for smaller outdoor gatherings in Kentucky, large outdoor gatherings of greater than 1,000 people, as well as all indoor public gatherings, still require a face covering. It has been my observation that, by and large, people have reluctantly followed the governor’s masking edicts thus far. I expected my derby day experience to be no different, and given that this was to be the largest public gathering at a U.S. sporting event since COVID-19 first emerged, I expected that adherence to the masking rules would be universal.

It’s not every day that one sees thousands of beautiful, dressed-up Kentucky girls, all hopped up on bourbon, screaming at an oppressive governor.

Occasionally, I enjoy being wrong. About 20 steps in, all we could see surrounding us were smiling faces. No masks, not even on the line of cops standing in the background against the wall. Sure, there were a few folks here and there wearing them, but by and large, I would estimate mask participation at around 5 to 10 percent. Out of the roughly 50,000 people who attended (a small, capacity-restricted crowd, keep in mind), the vast majority were completely ignoring the arbitrary regulation. I suppose there was little that the staff at Churchill Downs could do to force people to comply with the mask mandate, short of kicking everyone out. Literally, no one cared. It was glorious. It was normalcy.

The levels of not-caring became more apparent as the day progressed. Part of the pageantry of derby day is for the sitting governor to present the trophy to the race winner. In a truly cringeworthy moment, as Gov. Andy Beshear started speaking platitudes about self-sacrifice to the audience, they loudly booed. It had to be embarrassing, and I almost felt sorry for him, but then I remembered that he is responsible for the unilateral edicts that have ruined hundreds of thousands of people’s lives in the state. Perhaps being booed on national television in front of approximately 15 million people is a small, yet well-deserved payback. It’s not every day that one sees thousands of beautiful, dressed-up Kentucky girls, all hopped up on bourbon, screaming at an oppressive governor! Some guys might call it heaven. I’ve never been so proud to be from the Commonwealth.

The protests at the derby this year were just a microcosm of what is happening across the country: people are “over” the remaining COVID restrictions. In places where restrictions still exist, like Kentucky, the populace is growing uneasy. Most of us are getting vaccinated (which I would highly recommend any eligible person do, as I have written before at The American Spectator), and millions have also had natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 at this point. It seems like everyone is over it these days, except for power-hungry politicians like King Andy and the old-guard bureaucrats whose cues they follow — folks like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

A recent interview on WBUR, a Boston NPR-affiliated news station, did little to instill public confidence that Fauci should be the man in charge of making COVID policy recommendations to U.S. government officials. Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly), Dr. Fauci is now casting doubt on whether or not herd immunity is even achievable in this country. In the interview, he referred to it as the “elusive, somewhat mystical terminology of ‘herd immunity.’ ” Somewhere through the evasiveness and non-positions he espoused, he did essentially conclude that even if we don’t hit this now supposedly elusive goal we can still have a drastic reduction in cases and can still get normal life back across the country. Please, everyone, mark those words, and hold him to them.

To her credit, the interviewer, Meghna Chakrabarti, didn’t let him off the hook with his non-answers. I highly recommend you reading or listening to the entire exchange. At one point, after Chakrabarti repeatedly asked him about the goals or metrics we should look for to end the pandemic, a cornered Fauci explained, “We don’t know what a number will be, when you’re going to have [such good] control that people are going to feel comfortable about going out.”

And soon after, this interesting exchange took place:

Chakrabarti: OK, so this is really important, Dr. Fauci, because, again, it keeps getting back to people desperately wanting to know, as you said, when can they get back to their regular lives? So we don’t know what that number is regarding COVID.

Fauci: Right.

Chakrabarti: But we’re going to have to make a — that’s actually a subjective decision, right?

Fauci: Right.

Ah ha! He finally admitted it. The control these officials hold over your life is subjective. It actually has been all along. Fauci is non-committal about when people should feel comfortable enough to live normally again. Well, stop the presses, doc, and look no further! If the question is when will people feel ready, I have the answer: now. Right now. Actually, how about yesterday? Look at the Kentucky Derby, where citizens blatantly disobeyed a once-beloved governor’s mandates and booed him on a national stage because those edicts still persist.

Think of those defiant people in Kentucky on Saturday, who were stupidly commanded to wear a mask outdoors in the open air, and compare them to those in a completely open state like Florida, where people have been living essentially normal lives since day one of this whole ordeal (with similar morbidity and mortality outcomes as their more oppressive counterparts, I might add).

Reality is literally screaming at you from behind a bed of roses and mint juleps: we’re ready! Your ambiguous, non-committal, completely subjective “advice” is continuing to fuel power-hungry politicians to lord over us like cattle in a field. We are sick of it.

We are ready for this pandemic to end, doc. When will you be?

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