A convoy of Canadian truckers has been protesting a border-crossing trucker vaccine mandate. As of January 15, truckers entering the country have had to show proof of vaccine status. Unvaccinated foreign truckers aren't allowed to enter the country, while unvaccinated Canadian truckers re-entering the country after a U.S. delivery are subject to testing and a 14-day quarantine.
This bit of security theater (truckers don't have to be vaccinated while driving within Canada, so why upon entering? And why single out truckers over other types of workers?) hasn't gone over so well. One response has been a massive "freedom convoy" of truckers driving to Canada's capital city, Ottawa, in protest. Reports place the number of trucks in the dozens to the hundreds and the number of protesters in the thousands. (Alaskan truckers have also held their own protest in solidarity.)
The protests have been peaceful and largely without incident—which makes reactions to them from media outlets and Canadian leaders especially odd. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders, along with press in and outside of Canada, have been keen to condemn the protesters as a whole based on reports of a few distasteful antics.
"Canadians were shocked and frankly disgusted by the behavior displayed by some people protesting in our nation's capital," Trudeau said on Monday, making a point of saying that these protests were not like the Black Lives Matter protests he supported.
Trudeau accused protesters of "steal[ing] food from the homeless," in addition to "hurl[ing] insults and abuse at small business workers," flying "racist flags," engaging in "vandalism," "dishonor[ing] the memory of our veterans," and using "hateful rhetoric."
All of these accusations seem to stem from—and be quite the exaggerated take on—a few isolated incidents. (It's almost as if people would prefer to address these outliers than the substance of the protests…)
The claims of "vandalism" and dishonoring veterans seem to stem from the fact that one woman reportedly danced on the tomb of the unknown soldier, a few people allegedly peed at the National War Memorial, and a flag held by a statue of Terry Fox was turned upside down while a sign saying "mandate freedom" was placed in the statue's hands. (Protesters were also slagged for parking on part of the war memorial, though Ottawa police say they moved when asked.)
— Jorge Maria (@texxto) January 29, 2022
The claim of stealing from the homeless comes after an Ottawa soup kitchen said several protesters "harassed" its staff for meals. (It also reported that protesters assaulted someone seeking services and threatened a security guard.)
And the claim of hateful and racist rhetoric seems to come from several swastikas spotted in one crowd of protesters.
Now, maybe there really were random neo-Nazis joining in the protests, though it's easy to imagine the swastikas was meant not as support for Nazis but as an absurdly hyperbolic but all-too-common point about the people passing vaccine mandates.
Besides, it's unclear that any of this stuff was done by protesting truckers and not other groups or individuals who had joined in the protests or just wanted to cause mayhem.
Regardless, it's never really fair to tar entire protest movements based on the antics of a few people—something folks on the left should know well. During protests for racial justice and police abuse, violent behavior and vandalism by a few has frequently been used by opponents to slam the whole movement. It was dumb then, and it's dumb now.
- "Why Canada's trucker protest is inflaming its national anxieties"
- "Foreign Truckers Must Be Vaccinated to Enter US Starting Jan. 22"
Whoopi Goldberg suspended from The View over Holocaust comments. The actress made some ignorant but certainly not malicious claims about the Holocaust, and is now being excoriated for them. Goldberg claimed the Holocaust was about "man's inhumanity to man" and "not about race," saying it involved "two white groups of people." ABC News president Kim Godwin said Goldberg was being suspended for "her wrong and hurtful comments." And because nothing these days can be just a dumb mistake, others are accusing her of helping fascists.
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— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 1, 2022
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• "New legislation being rushed through the House has massive privacy and other problems for small sellers," says the R Street Institute's Wayne Brough.