MATTHEWS: In school mask controversy, Stacey Abrams reminds us who she really is

Stacey Abrams poses for a photo in a Georgia classroom. Image via Twitter

Earlier this month, 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams paid a visit to Glennwood Elementary School in Decatur to take part in the school’s third annual “African-American Read-In” as part of Black History Month. 

Nothing wrong with that, but during her appearance, Abrams was seen maskless in multiple photos while literally everyone around her, including young schoolchildren, was wearing a mask. 

The school’s principal, Holly Brookins, tweeted out several photos of the event, including three of Abrams. One was of Abrams sitting maskless in front of masked children; one was of her standing next to Brookins without a mask, and one was of her speaking at the podium without a mask. 

At some point, Abrams retweeted the photos from her Twitter account, and that’s when the outrage started. 

People wanted to know why Abrams, a staunch proponent of indoor masking, was not abiding by the rules she demands others follow. And why were the children forced to wear masks around Abrams even though they’re at much lower risk of catching COVID than adults are? 

Not long after, not only did Abrams delete her tweet, but Brookins deleted hers as well. In fact, as of this writing, Brookins’ Twitter account appears to have been deleted in the aftermath. 

The way Abrams and her team handled the backlash was all wrong, but it was pretty predictable coming from a woman who has spent the last three years-plus alleging — without evidence — that the 2018 Georgia governor’s race was “stolen” from her because her Republican opponent Brian Kemp deliberately suppressed the black vote, although Georgia broke their all-time record for the number of votes cast that year. 

See, it’s okay for Abrams to question election results. But when it comes to Republicans doing so, it’s an affront to democracy according to Abrams, other Democrats, and the media. 

But I digress. 

Instead of addressing the mask issue directly, Team Abrams initially engaged in pathetic “whataboutism” while trotting out the race card, bizarrely using the fact that it was Black History Month to allege that there was some type of correlation between the criticism she faced over her appearance at the school and the month that has been designated to showcase black history on a national stage. 

They also accused conservative critics of hypocrisy, which was silly since the issue was about Abrams not practicing what she preaches. Apparently, they think it’s a winning look to appear willfully ignorant of the fact that conservatives are actually okay with people not wearing masks as long as they’re not doing so while demanding those around them follow a different set of rules. 

Making matters worse, her campaign specifically noted that Abrams appearing maskless during the event was conditional on everyone around her masking up. So what was done was intentional on Abrams’ part. 

Perhaps sensing that she and her campaign had completely botched the response to the controversy, Abrams appeared on CNN a few days later and apologized. 

“In the excitement after I finished, because it was so much fun working with those kids, I took a picture. And that was a mistake.” She went on to say, “Protocols matter, and protecting our kids is the most important thing. And anything perceived as undermining that is a mistake, and I apologize.” 

The problem here is that it wasn’t just one photo. It was multiple photos making it look like Abrams was maskless for most of the event, and not just for pictures. 

Abrams isn’t the first Democrat to get caught in mask hypocrisy, and she won’t be the last. But in an election year where more people are seeing through the mask theater and want things to get back to normal, her blunder on masks just may come back and haunt her in November, assuming she wins her primary. 

Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.