We need to talk about the elephant in the room: the convoy and it’s partner protest. The Elephant is in our head dear readers, it’s revealing itself as a psychological phenomenon and not a rational reaction.
In full disclosure, I drove through the convoy for about 30 mins east of Brandon to the perimeter, I saw the protesters in front of City Hall, and I have family & friends who support this on social media. I think we are all in a bit of an uncomfortable position. I think there are supporters who have come at this with good intentions, but are now in a difficult position to walk some of this back.
What is happening now is a large-scale public attempt at “saving the appearances”. This is the habit of inventing narratives to see the world as we wish it to be, and not as it is. This is a typical tactic of Flat Earthers when defending the “geocentric universe” theory. If we as a Nation are going to get ourselves through this, it’s going to need to happen in hearts and minds.
This protest is an irrational reaction. It has no clear aim or direction, the mandates affecting truckers are dictated by the United States, the rally cry of “freedom” is an exceedingly ambiguous and misunderstood term, and it is a tragic double standard when considering Indigenous protests (which a side by side comparison of is problematic if not sickening). If the concern was about mandates, it would make much more sense to line up at the borders, if it was about vaccinations, it’s likely those mandates will be removed once the healthcare system catches up with the virus and finds its equilibrium.
From the supporters I have talked to, it seems there is a misunderstanding of the distinctions between “economy in society”, and the “rights pertaining to citizens”. More critically, there is a failure to discuss the responsibilities of individuals to the economy and to society. As a Green, Universal Basic Income makes moot most of the points brought up by the protest in terms of economic security and coercion in the economy.
As this is an editorial, I am not looking to blame people who support freedom and the right to protest in principle, but let’s examine the leadership behind this specific protest. Not all members of this protest have been courteous and conscientious in their actions, but we should be directing our criticism to the movement’s leaders and organizers. We now know the organizers of this convoy have said racist things and have white supremacist affiliations. The KKK now uses mental health initiatives as a front for recruiting, this is because overt racism is no longer acceptable or useful in attracting new members. White supremacists have now co-opted the anti-vax movement to recruit for their own causes.
The trajectory of these protests has had a devastating historical precedent. We have learnt from history, in particular German history, that if you have one Nazi at a table with 10 people, you really just have a table of 11 Nazis.
Let us be critical here of those we have appointed the vanguards of this cause, but I would also like to encourage our members to listen to their supporters. Not to change our minds, but to better understand the impulses that drove these “freedom” protests and why they were copted so easily by White Supremacists.