The type of mask this antifa supporter wore in a food mart in antifva Kalama, Washington.
The type of mask this antifa-supporter wore in a food mart in antiva-loving Kalama, Washington. Leah St. Lawrence

During a recent trip between Portland and Seattle, a stop was made in Kalama, Washington for snacks.

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The city has basically two streets. A food mart was soon located on one of them. After parking, I entered the business and to my horror found it full of unmasked people. All were white and middle-aged or old, and they all noticed that I was masked. For the first time in my many encounters with small-town and rural white Americans, my skin did not dominate my identification. I was not so much a black man among Confederate flag-loving Americans as I was a masker among anti-maskers.

It appeared that my skin color didn't have the kind of information my floral face mask provided. What a shock this was. The people (20 or so) looked at me as I looked at them in utter bewilderment.

The food mart's door closed behind me. What world did these people live in? There was a long line to the counter, operated by unmasked attendants. Those in the queue were talking loudly and proudly. I really was in Jay Inslee's bioreactor.

Here is the CDC data on Kalama's county, Cowlitz.


The seven-day moving average for COVID-19 infections in Cowlitz more than doubles King County's average, (360 per 100,000 compared to 164 per 100,000). And keep in mind, King County's population density is 1,065 people per square mile; it's only 97 in Cowlitz County. There's lots of room for social distancing here, if masks are not your thing.

Also worth keeping in mind is this: The percent of vaccinated adults in Seattle is 82%. In Cowitz it's 48%, which means there was a very good chance that half of the people in the food mart were not vaccinated. And the highly contagious Delta variant is the dominant strain in this and other counties.

But no one was masked here—not in the store, nor on the street, nor any place I looked. The virus did not exist in Kalama, and I found among those whose eyes met my own real pride in this deadly delusion.

I left the food mart without buying a thing. I left the town and its county with thoughts about the future of rural America.

If my encounter with ploud (proud and loud—my Nabokovian invention) "antiva" (I learned the term, which is a play on "anti-vaxxers," in Portland, Oregon) was not exceptional, and Marjorie Taylor Greene's recent rally in Alabama indicates that it's not (her fans cheered that state's low vaccination rate), then we are really in the middle of an American cultural revolution. The society that entered the pandemic will not, in many of its features, be the same as the one that exists.

Also expect antiva to transform (or, put in more direct terms, biologically decimate) large sections of the suburbs. In this regard, one only has to turn to Pierce County, which leans Democratic due to Tacoma, but is much in the red everywhere else. According to the CDC, only 50% of adults in Pierce County are fully vaccinated at this late point of the pandemic. That is not that much better than Cowlitz. And so, we have at the fringes the city, a struggle between rural politics and urban politics. But antifa in urban America will never be anywhere near as deadly as antiva in suburban and rural America.