Thursday 3 March 2022


This started out a week ago as a follow-up to my recent posts on the "Freedom Convoy" situation in our nation's capital (here and here). Before I could finish it, the world tilted badly as Russia invaded Ukraine, and the whole convoy thing seems like peanuts compared to that.

Or is it?

The people involved in the Freedom Convoy talked about freedom a lot. It was their slogan, an all-purpose word that meant (depending on the person) freedom from vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers, freedom from all public health measures brought in to help reduce hospitalizations and deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic, or freedom from a democratically-elected government.

Freedom from the vaccine mandate was nonsensical. Truckers had been granted an exemption from the mandate in late 2021 in order to help reduce supply chain issues. The exemption was due to be lifted January 15 in Canada, and a similar exemption mandated by the United States was due to be lifted the following week, January 22. So even if Canada had extended the exemption, truckers would have faced the same restrictions the very next week as soon as they crossed the Canada-U.S. border.

Freedom from public health measures such as vaccine passports, mask-wearing, and social distancing was an understandable but socially inappropriate demand in reaction to rules which had been brought in to benefit all of us. We're all tired of Covid-19 and its restrictions, but it's foolish to think that it will magically disappear by ignoring it. As so many people have said in so many ways, rights are not absolute. They extend only to the point where they affect other peoples' rights. You have the freedom to not wear a mask, but you don't have the right to infect others by doing it in public spaces. You have the right to not get vaccinated but you don't have the right to bring your unprotected self into every public space and expose yourself to risk and end up in the hospital, draining resources that are needed to take care of the truly vulnerable.

Freedom from a democratically-elected government ... well, we are now seeing that playing out on the other side of the world. The threat there is coming from a neighbouring country, but the right-wing school of thought that took over the Freedom Convoy in Canada and other countries actively promotes a similar threat from within each country. What we are seeing in Ukraine is a true threat to democracy. It's not about wearing or not wearing a piece of cloth over your nose and mouth. It's not about getting a jab in the arm. It's about one country trying to take away another country's right to be run by the government democratically elected to do so. It's a grab for more power, more status, and a return to "the old days".  

In the comments on my last post, the following questions were posed by Red (from Hiawatha House):

"How can things that are so simple be twisted to support extremist ideas? How can people believe such information?" 

I'm pretty sure they were rhetorical questions, but I have thoughts and so I will share them with you lucky people.

The protest in Ottawa was hijacked by those with extremist ideas; that is quite clear. They have been quite open in their public activities and on social media about their beliefs and goals, which include white nationalism, racist conspiracy theories, anti-immigration, Islamophobia, and overthrowing the government. This has been happening all over the world, not just in Canada.

How did they twist the simple protest of anti-vaxxers into extremism? 

Those who believe in "preserving Anglo-Saxon bloodlines" (i.e. white supremacy) and interfering in democracy know that their beliefs are not widely shared in civilized society. They use the cloak of respectability that is provided by sincere protesters of valid causes. They are very good at appearing to support and align themselves with those people and making them feel that they are being persecuted by outside forces. Leaders at the convoy stressed to protesters that their chant would be "Freedom". It was easy to remember and easy to say. But there's a vast difference between "freedom from vaccine mandates" and "freedom to overthrow the government".

How can people believe such information?

They were actively and deliberately misinformed by their extremist leaders. After two years of pandemic restrictions, the misinformation fell on fertile ground.

There is also the question of how extremist leaders can believe their own views.

We are all products of nature and nurture. Nature is the bag of traits, good and bad, that all humans have to a lesser or greater degree. Nurture is the environment we grew up in -- our family upbringing, financial  means, social standing, emotional support, etc. -- and also the environment in which we live once we reach adulthood and independence. So much of the white supremacist rhetoric includes grievances about jobs lost or in jeopardy, and about changes in their status in society. Whites used to be at the top of the food chain, especially white males. They decided how things would be. They decided who would suffer and who would thrive. They had all the power and resources.

They no longer have all of it. In some cases they have much less of it. And some of them are looking for someone to blame and some way to get it all back.

Reminds me of another situation ...... ah, yes, that Russian leader. He, too, wants to return to the glory days of some time ago, restoring all his power and resources at the expense of democracy in Ukraine .... and if that goes well for him, he may want to keep going.

I hope he fails miserably.

My thoughts and support are with Ukraine's citizens and leaders. May they be successful in protecting their independence. We might all ask ourselves (and may already be doing so) how we would react if we were in their shoes.


I know that for the most part, my outlook and viewpoints are shared by the folks who read and comment here, no matter what corner of the world you live in. But I felt a great need -- for myself, if no one else -- to record the facts and my feelings about this alarming and enlightening event in my country. I've always felt lucky to live here, and it feels important not only to reflect on these events, but, indeed, to do as our national anthem states: stand on guard for my country. 


Footnote about the Emergencies Act, for those interested: With the specific laws put in place by the Act, targeted to the specific emergency, police were able to peacefully clear the streets around the Parliament buildings in about two days. The Act was revoked nine days after it was put in place, as the emergency was considered to be over. It is worth mentioning that small groups continue to camp out at more distant locations. It is also worth noting that the main organizers of the convoy were arrested and are now in the justice system. A reported injury to one person by a police horse is being investigated. A reported injury to a police horse is also being investigated.  A review of the powers and duties exercised while the emergency was in effect is required by the Act itself, and the resulting report is expected to be finalized by the end of March.


And now, just a wee kitty to make you feel good.



Bonnie said...

Jenny this is an excellent post and I completely agree with you. It shows that you have put a lot of thought into all this and you make many good points. In the past few years there have been so many frightening situations in our world and now watching what is happening in Ukraine should make a lot of people stop and think. At least I hope it does.

That sweet little kitten certainly does make my heart feel good!

River said...

That tiny kitty looks exactly like my Angel did when I first saw him a couple of months before I brought him home.
I too, hope Puny Putin fails miserably and very soon.
But, sadly, I believe he has already managed to "take" one city :(
I shall watch the TV news later and find out for sure.

Anonymous said...

Very well stated. You wrote misinformation fell on 'fertile ground' and went on to explain why those could be fertile ground. But I still don't get the leap of logic, the lack of trust in science and medicine, and a lack of care for fellow humans that overcomes everything.

Anyway, thanks for posting this and it deserves to be archived for posterity.

dinthebeast said...

One problem with propaganda is that it is designed to get people to believe it and thus carries the risk to its purveyors that they might begin to believe it themselves.
Putin seems to be in some state of this, despite his background as a KGB agent, and those organizing the the US copies of the Canadian truck protest seem to have wildly overestimated the support here, probably as their propaganda claimed.
The "Convoy" from California to DC for the state of the union didn't even make it to Las Vegas, the Pennsylvania convoy consisted of one big rig with two flat tires, and the rally in DC for the state of the union was attended by maybe a dozen people.
It would seem that someone in the organizing phase of this movement wasn't operating with accurate information.
There. I said it without using any swear words or denigrating the character of those involved. Whew.
Thank you again for the clear-eyed telling of this issue that has so many ranting and frothing at the mouth.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Infidel753 said...

If the anti-vax truckers really want to fight for freedom, they should go to Ukraine and fight there. The Ukrainian military is accepting foreign volunteers. It might also give them a different perspective on what tyranny is. Putin has been known to punish his opponents with measures even harsher than having their illegally-parked trucks towed.

Mike said...

White supremacy is what all this BS going on these days is all about. And not just supremacy but possession of "stuff". The nut jobs can't stand people of a different color having more "stuff" than they do.

gz said...

The feeling of a small paw on yours..yes. says it all. Thankyou.

It is also terrible that prejudice and racial discrimination is rearing it's ugly head now.
One example is of Indian and Nigerian students from Ukrainian universities having trouble crossing the border.
Another is of Syrian an Afghan refugees who thought that they had found a safe place in Ukraine...also having problems.
Ukrainian refugees are seen as like "us"....that is wrong.
Doesn't matter who you are, or where you are from. Fleeing from war or discrimination affects you the same.

Steve Reed said...

I probably don't need to say that I agree with everything you've written -- and a thoughtful, comprehensive analysis it was.

It astonishes me that people on the right in the USA seem to be aligned with Putin in the Ukraine war. There's all this misinformation being circulated about the evils that Putin is allegedly fighting. It's mind-blowing. What would Ronald Reagan say to see the right supporting Russia over our own government?!

Re. power, I would add that while the power of white males as a group may be diminishing (and rightly so), we are still by far the group with the most control. We still dominate. Many of the protesters have never felt any personal benefit from that status, though. They are an aggrieved group for a variety of reasons, deriving from lack of education, lack of income, lack of opportunity and other factors. So they are lashing out at the people their leaders are telling them to blame -- minorities, immigrants, gays, trans people, you name it.

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Thank you once again for keeping us up to date. Your Emergencies Act sure seem to work as intended! If the protesters were removed or relocated to somewhere where they do not harm all society with only two injured, one man and one horse I would call it a success on all accounts!
I am going to plant Sunflowers this year!

Marie Smith said...

Thank you for writing this post, Jenny. It is well thought out and written and describes how I feel as well. I wonder how long Indigenous or BLM protesters would have been tolerated in Ottawa if they had done the same? I heard one Indigenous journalist refer to the protesters as “bearded white men.” They were allowed to take over for three weeks before the powers that be moved to stop them. This makes me sad and needs to change since freedom applies to everyone not just the “bearded white men.” They obviously felt entitled, taking their “freedom” at the expense of everyone else in the city.

Similarly, I can’t help but see that the world response to Ukraine and its refugees is quite different from the response to refugees from Syria who were mainly Muslim. Who are we as a people?

We can learn a lot from the events around us about who we are and what we need to change in ourselves to make a better world. And then there’s the climate…Sigh!

Red said...

You've written a very thorough description of the convoy. They're a bunch of no good trouble makers who don't know the actual situation. They follow their own thinking above all others. Hey , you've got me started on a rant.

e said...

Great analysis...ans thanks for the sweet puss. Hugs to you.

Mr. Shife said...

Good stuff, jenny_o. Thank you for sharing your wise words. The Freedom Convoy just rolled through my town yesterday on their way to DC and, I think, they might have some good intentions in the beginning but it has been hijacked by a lot of white people who are afraid of not being in power anymore.

Joanne Noragon said...

Beautifully researched, organized, stated. I think Putin will slink away, but not until world leaders fashion an exit ramp for him. Another tough sell.

messymimi said...

If everyone thought this clearly and logically life would be much easier.

jenny_o said...

Hi Everyone:

I typed a long, long reply to everybody's comments, all in one comment box, and when I hit Publish it disappeared! I'm not sure I have it in me to re-type it, so I'll just thank you all for your comments, your support, your thoughts (many good points were made), and hope you understand. Not sure if it was me, Blogger, my browser, or just the universe, but choose one and blame it with my blessing :)

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Anyone who thinks Putin will stop if he takes Ukraine should read about the 'pacification' of Hitler in WW2. We are facing the exact same situation--a megalomaniac who will continue to roll forward, collecting countries until someone stops him. He won't stop. He'll never stop.
I am still amazed in this so-called 'enlightened' age, that people still think their rights exceed everyone else's. The call for my own personal convoy? KINDNESS!
Excellent post, Jenny! So glad to 'see' you again!

Martha said...

Beautifully said! One of the scariest sentences to hear is "a return to the old days". I shudder to think of such a thing.

jenny_o said...

Diane: Well said! Kindness is at the top of my list; it's what I aim for always - although I'm not always successful with my mom in particular and that makes me unhappy - but I always try.

Martha: Yes indeed. Although I can think of a few things in the old days I miss, like not having a world-wide pandemic. ha