As kids across the country start heading back to schools — including Los Angeles Unified School District students returning full-time on Monday — John Oliver opened his HBO show Sunday night addressing those parents who are upset that their children are being required to wear masks.
Noting that Delta Variant is “spreading wildly around the country, particularly among the unvaccinated,” and with the U.S. is seeing about 100,000 new infections a day, Oliver cited reports saying that about 15 percent of new cases are among children.
The Last Week Tonight host said that there are at least seven states that have banned the mask requirement in schools, including Florida and Texas. He also showed footage of U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn at a school board meeting in North Carolina arguing that “the greatest threat to our children today does not come from COVID-19. It comes from local liberal government officials like you who think they are all knowing and all wise.”
Said Oliver: “So Madison Cawthorn thinks the biggest thread to children is school board members who think they’re omniscient. I would say I’m surprised by that but this is a man who once posted this video of himself beating up a tree, so he clearly loves to pick useless fights against imaginary opponents where he comes out looking like a compete asshole.” (Oliver showed a video of Cawthorn, in fact, beating up a tree.)
Oliver then showed video of another school board meeting where the board voted to require masks. After the meeting ended, one attendee appeared to flash the Nazi salute at the board.
He showed another video where a school board member who voted in favor of masks was harassed outside the meeting afterward, yelling things like “You can leave freely but we will find you and we know who you are” and “You will never be allowed in public again.”
Said Oliver: “Holy shit, it is genuinely hard to imagine a five-word phrase less welcome than ‘We know who you are’ — aside from, obviously, ‘new Jeopardy! host Mike Richards.’”
He added: “You can’t help thinking that some of the fuss over masks is more about the parents than about the kids.”
He then showed video of a parent, saying, “Last time I checked, this is America, and you can’t make anybody do anything. I thought that’s what people died for, our freedom.” Address his own child, the man continued: “Last year he did have to wear a mask and you know, honestly he thinks it’s cool. I’m not going to lie, he thinks he’s a ninja. But I said, ‘Son, don’t say that. When they ask you if you’d like to wear a mask.’”
Said Oliver: “Oh, come on! If your kid happens to like wearing a mask, let him fucking wear it. Do you realize how rare it is when for a chid to do something that is a net positive for public health? Kids are normally just moving snot dispensaries that run around coughing on doorknobs and sneezing directly into people’s mouths.”
Oliver went on to note that the first major wave of COVID cases in children is mostly in low-vaccinated states.
He said: “We are only fighting about masks in school right now because there are a bunch of foolish adults who have decided not to get the vaccine, and to all of them, I can only say, to quote a bunch of upsettingly loud idiots, ‘We know who you are, and you’re the fucking problem.’”