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Trump To Bolsonaro To Salvini: A Populist Aversion To Face Masks

The deputies Maurizio Lupi and Vittorio Sgarbi (the first with a protective mask and the second without).
The deputies Maurizio Lupi and Vittorio Sgarbi (the first with a protective mask and the second without).
Alessio Perrone

MILAN — In our pandemic times, face masks are politics. Last Thursday, the debate arrived with fury at the Culture Commission of the Italian parliament. "I won't be gagged and I won't wear it!" barked Vittorio Sgarbi, a Parliament member from the center-right Forza Italia party. The obligatory face mask policy inside the Parliament, he declared, was "blackmail." Sgarbi's invective followed another incident two days earlier, when the leader of the far-right populist Lega party Matteo Salvini was criticised live on television for posing for selfies without a mask, La Repubblica reports. "Am I allowed to lower the mask to speak to a woman?," he retorted.

Such political hay is stirring around masks in multiple countries, even as a consensus is growing among major scientific institutions that face masks can indeed curb the spread of the coronavirus. The most recent study on the topic — by the Universities of Cambridge and Greenwich — suggests that masks could be more effective than lockdowns to prevent a second wave of coronavirus.

In southwestern Germany, the far-right AfD leader Alice Widel attended a demonstration without a mask, Bild reports. Like her, the hundred or so demonstrators rallied without one, although keeping a distance.

With hugs from Bolsonaro

In Brazil, the country with the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, President Jair Bolsonaro has been attending official events and meetings without a mask, hugging and taking photos with people, according to Correio Braziliense.


Trump tours new face-mask factory but does not wear one. — Photo: Shealah Craighead/White House/ZUMA

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump seems to see masks as a question of pride, and vanity. In an April press conference announcing CDC guidelines that included a recommendation to wear masks, Trump… did not wear a mask: "I don't think I'm gonna be doing it." Later his team publicly mocked Joe Biden, the Democratic Party's nominee for the 2020 presidential election, for wearing one.

Back in Rome, after the scene in the Commission hearing room, Sgarbi was mask-less again before the entire Parliament. The president of Italy's lower house Mara Carfagna ordered him to wear a mask multiple times. When he refused, she sent the parliamentary officers to force him. "Wear it," she said. "We don't have 629 fools here and one intelligent man."

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Should Christians Be Scared Of Horror Movies?

Horror films have a complicated and rich history with christian themes and influences, but how healthy is it for audiences watching?

Should Christians Be Scared Of Horror Movies?

"The Nun II" was released on Sept. 2023.

Joseph Holmes

“The Nun II” has little to show for itself except for its repetitive jump scares — but could it also be a danger to your soul?

Christians have a complicated relationship with the horror genre. On the one hand, horror movies are one of the few types of Hollywood films that unapologetically treat Christianity (particularly Catholicism) as good.

“The Exorcist” remains one of the most successful and acclaimed movies of all time. More recently, “The Conjuring” franchise — about a wholesome husband and wife duo who fight demons for the Catholic Church in the 1970s and related spinoffs about the monsters they’ve fought — has more reverent references to Jesus than almost any movie I can think of in recent memory (even more than many faith-based films).

The Catholic film critic Deacon Steven Greydanus once mentioned that one of the few places where you can find substantial positive Catholic representation was inhorror films.

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