The Mask of Sorrow, a Tragic Face Revealed

Some observations on contemporary American politics – and life – from our Central European correspondent, Malcolm Sharps.

The Mask of Sorrow, a Tragic Face Revealed

By Malcolm Sharps

Here’s a name: Wolski. Veronica Wolski. An American with Slavic roots, you might conclude, not rare in itself. It’s a name that, lacking any other reason for taking note of, you might pass over without further thought and forget.  So why might you have heard of Veronica Wolski in stories going back some months now? And why might that name have kept cropping up from time to time and each time you said to yourself ‘here she goes again, that terrible Veronica Wolski’? Well, Veronica Wolski became notorious on You Tube, amongst other internet sources, as a Q follower and anti-masker who scoffed at convention and the restrictions they tried to place on her.  ‘If they want me to wear a mask, thought Wolski, they’ll have to accept this one’. And by wearing a Zorro (or Zorra)-style mask with no nose or mouth covering, just a simple masquerade job in black with two eye holes, to her local supermarket, she caused confusion amongst staff and customers alike. And on all the YT stuff I’ve seen of her she is gleeful about the success of her little trick in out-smarting authoritarianism, though as someone said later, she put as much effort into wearing the wrong kind of mask as she would have done wearing the right one, so what was the point?

But the real point for Veronica Wolski wasn’t simply not to wear an effective barrier mask against a killer virus, it was to tell the world, and possibly to tell Covid itself, that she wasn’t falling for the sham, she didn’t believe in masks, she didn’t believe in the threat of Covid, she didn’t believe in all the fuss and manufactured case and death statistics, she didn’t believe in the multiple risks of infection to herself, though she was one year off the ‘at high risk’ category of 65 and over. And lastly and certainly, as it turned out, not least, she didn’t believe in vaccination.

The next time we hear of Veronica Wolski some months after her Zorra antics began, we get news of her not from her own set-up videos but from reporters on national news networks standing outside the hospital where she has been fighting for her life in an Intensive Care Unit. These are the same units which at the moment are being rationed and even denied to some potentially terminal Covid cases and sufferers from other maladies.

On the tenth day of her hospitalisation things go very badly for libertarian warrior and Covid denier Veronica Wolski; her struggle against Covid-caused pneumonia fades and fails, the ventilator is switched off, she is declared by the doctors to no longer be of this world. But true to the histrionic character of the deceased, during her last days a dramatis personae of supporters assembles and bombards the hospital with literally hundreds of demands and threats (don’t the two seem to go together nowadays?). They demand, in particular,  that Veronica Wolski be spared further torture by being administered the discredited – for human use – horse de-wormer, Ivermectin. The equally discredited Trump lawyer, Lin Wood, recently admonished in court and referred to his state for possible disciplining or disbarring, charges the hospital with responsibility for her murder. ‘Do you understand what murder is?’ he asks ominously on the phone. No comment from them, no comment from me.

During the course of my searches and researches on Veronica Wolski, I did something I’ve hardly ever done in my life before, I read comment after comment on her actions and death on social media. Sometimes comments stood alone, sometimes they were follow-ons from what previous commentators had said. What was predictable was that these were all negative; perhaps less predictable for me was their universal tone of unforgiving callousness, gloating malice, and venomous delight,  a veritable Hatefest, in fact. I’m not sure what I wanted. I certainly didn’t want a balanced point of view, or more correctly an unbalanced one, that said she wasn’t responsible for her actions due to some flaw of character, perhaps writing her off as ’crazy’and therefore discounting what she did.

But when a terrible person dies, there is usually one voice which speaks out like a distant conscience sounding in our heads: ’remember, she was someone’s sister or mother’, or even the much more annoying Christian voice which tells you: ‘have compassion, the sinners suffer along with their victims’. That’s not my view, but where were those people to provide a moral balance for the rest of us too-willing barbarians? Is this what social media does to us? Turns us into stocks and gallows-side rabble baying for more blood?

Anyone who supports Q conspiracy theories and follows through with opposition to science and best health practice has contributed to a movement which demonstrably leads to the death of thousands and the smearing of countless others; their hands are soiled with both mud and blood. We may rightfully wish for the death of the supporters of these campaigns before they have even more blood of innocent people on their hands. I, for one, am certainly not in the ‘forgiveness camp’ on this one. Nevertheless, I am just a touch disturbed to find that in the social media comments I read I couldn’t find what I would even remotely term the ‘forgiveness camp’, much less signs of respect for the dead.

Towards the end of the Second World War, against the tide of public opinion which called for revenge on and humiliation of the enemy population, Noel Coward wrote a song Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans. Many must have scoffed and looked to the sky at that time. I think I would have done also. No one is singing Don’t Let’s be Beastly to Veronica Wolski, but after reading a hundred heartlessly damning and unregretful comments on her death, I wonder if it wouldn’t be healthier if just someone did.

One Response to The Mask of Sorrow, a Tragic Face Revealed

  1. David Daniel says:

    As ever, Malcolm Sharps delivers words certain to stir thoughts.

    The news is full of such woeful stories about deniers (of masks, vaccines, of the virus itself) and champions (of unproven and even dangerous counter-remedies). Most such beliefs and actions are the stuff of ignorance; a poor choice of whom to listen to; confusion of the role of religion with the role of science; or, in some instances, willful malice.

    A widely reported recent statistic about U.S. deaths [from analyst Charles Gaba] is this: “In the bluest counties, since the beginning of July there have been approximately 9 covid-19 deaths per 100,000 population. In the reddest counties, there have been 47 deaths per 100,000 population.” This isn’t theory; it’s math.

    That said, Sharps raises a valid question: Where is our humanity in the face of needless, self-inflicted suffering? I think we all need to do better in answering.

    To be clear, Cole Porter is being satirical in his “Don’t Let’s Be Beastly” song, the way Mel Brooks is when singers break into “Springtime for Hitler” in “The Producers.” Humor can be a wonderful anodyne for illness, but it isn’t a vaccine–it won’t cure stupid.

    As Sharps hints, I think, sometimes we all might do well to pause and think about what we’re doing and saying, and why.