February 12, 2022
photo above: thewire.in
WN: Watching the U.S. unravel, as attested to by many articles on this site, is painful, scary, and at times indeed, if not enraging, terribly disconcerting. Experiencing family members caught up in it is distressing. The combination of observing at once utter nonsense believed, and related anger directed my way for not buying into the patent lies, is at best wearing, at worst deeply distressing.
None of this will quickly pass or get better. Barring unforeseens, likeliest upcoming scenarios are au contraire danger-and-violence-laden.
We say our prayers: Lord, have mercy.
Recently I published a book of speculative nonfiction about the possibility of a civil war in the United States. In the opening chapter, I imagine a scenario in which a carnivalesque group of far-right activists takes over a bridge and refuses to leave, provoking a response from federal authorities. My fantasy became reality recently, except not in a rural American county, as I had envisioned it, but in Windsor, Ontario. For five years, I have been studying American political rage, its sources, its abyssal depths, its vertiginous fracturing power. I thought I was studying an external phenomenon at a distance, and I was. Now the rage has come for me. The anti-vax trucker convoy has made it up close and personal.
Three weeks ago, truckers formed a convoy to protest the cross-border COVID-vaccine mandate. Last weekend, they rolled into my Toronto neighborhood, near Bloor Street and Avenue Road. I went down to bear witness to the spectacle. The scene was not surprising to me: The same sort of people I’d seen at Donald Trump rallies and prepper conventions were there, with their hollowed-out faces intimate with pain, and their perpetually misspelled signs, and their sense of belonging to a community of the excluded. I confess that they disgusted me. I found myself stopping several people on the street and telling them to go home, that they weren’t wanted here.
The truckers want “freedom” from mandates and have called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resign. They won’t achieve either of these goals, so what they’re doing now amounts to disruption for disruption’s sake. Trucks have been driving around the entrances to the Ottawa airport in a kind of slow-motion blockade. This is a deliberate tactic to force the federal government to take action. The protesters want confrontation with Trudeau, not Doug Ford, the Conservative premier of Ontario, because only such a confrontation could save their movement. Their forces are diminishing: About 1,000 people are left in the Ottawa convoy, although that number may rise over the weekend. Their main avenue of fundraising has been suspended; a week after GoFundMe stopped all trucker fundraising activities, the Conservative government of Ontario froze all GiveSendGo donations. The federal government has, so far, resisted the impulse to call in the military, and it is quite right to do so. Every day the truckers remain in Ottawa, they appall a larger and larger segment of the Canadian population. “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake,” as Napoleon said. Time is firmly on the authorities’ side, if not that of the people suffering in Ottawa.
Ultimately, I know that this trucker convoy will come to nothing. Its power has been exaggerated by U.S. media, principally Fox News. Nearly 60 percent of Canadians find the protesters “offensive and inappropriate.” More to the point, 88 percent of people in Canada over the age of 4 have been vaccinated, including 85 percent of those in the trucking profession. The main trucking advocacy groups are on board with the vaccine mandate, as are the Teamsters. At their peak, the trucker protests had just 8,000 people. The Conservative Party of Canada has told the truckers to go home; they have virtually no mainstream political support, except from a few remote members of Parliament from Saskatchewan. Nobody sensible can feel threatened by anything that comes out of Saskatchewan.
By far, the largest supporters of the trucker convoy on social media are Americans, namely Donald Trump and Elon Musk. (One of Trump’s former “science advisers” has attended rallies.) Republican Senator Ted Cruz is way, way more into the trucker convoy than any Canadian Conservative is. This episode is no doubt just the beginning of the nightmare of living next to the United States in its time of breakdown. As American politics enters a state of complete toxicity, veering into insurgency, its violence and misinformation networks will inevitably spread across the border.
The truckers disgust me because they believe lies and want to force their lies on the rest of the country. They disgust me because they are not playing by the rules and represent a threat to decent, orderly citizens. If I’m being honest, in some part of my Canadian soul they disgust me because they’re making a scene. Ultimately, they disgust me because they are so disgusted, and their anger and loathing have now provoked a mirroring anger and loathing in myself.
Please click on: When the Rage Came for Me