Who is that un-masked man in the White House?
By Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Faculty Emeritus in the Humanities, Austin College
May 28, 2020
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My favorite after school recreation as a boy was to flop on the rug before the radio and listen to The Lone Ranger. I vaguely remember that the background to the story was that several Texas Rangers were killed leaving only the Lone Ranger to help in other situations where good folk were threatened by the lawless. From an abandoned mine, he obtains silver (after which his horse is named), and molds his iconic “silver bullets.” Many, who may be too young to have listened to The Lone Ranger, know that the “silver bullet” metaphor means the best and quickest solution to a problem. The world awaits the “silver bullet” vaccine to combat COVID-19!

The mask of the Lone Ranger covered only his upper face with openings for his eyes—supposedly to disguise him from those who killed his comrade Texas Rangers. What I remember most was the dramatic ending of all the episodes when the villains are in jail and the Lone Ranger rides into the virtual sunset to the clippity-clop of Silver’s hooves. Someone asks, in awesome wonder: “Who is that masked man?” Another replies: “He is the Lone Ranger!” 

Recently these scenes from my youth have been recalled when I see on TV a White House press conference, or a visit to a production plant (even one manufacturing masks for our COVID pandemic), where all but one person are following the guidelines set by this administration’s Center for Disease Control. Who is that un-masked man? –the President of the United States of America! When is he doing this?—as our death toll rises and he encourages getting the USA back to normal even if it means large gatherings of people, and an increase of deaths. 

The bigger question is: Why is he doing this? This question is too complex to answer here, but the best answer I have found started with a conference of 27 mental health specialists at Yale in April, 2017, answering the question: “Does professional responsibility include a duty to warn?”* A second edition of their essays now includes 10 more professionals, and is available in audio. 

*Brandy Lee, Ed., The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump (Saint Martin’s Press, 2017)

Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Professor Emeritus of Humanities (1985–2019)
Chaplain Emeritus (1985-2004)