Trucker Lives Matter

It is not hard to imagine what Irish politics would sound like, or how Irish newspapers would read, if Justin Trudeau’s war on the Canadian Truckers had been carried out by Donald Trump, against Black Lives Matter protests.

There would, in short, be howls of rage from every Irish opposition party, demands for the US Ambassador to be summoned, people before profit protests outside the American embassy, and people taking to the streets in sympathy marches. Fintan O’Toole would already have written his column warning about the dangerous rise of authoritarianism in the west. Colm O’Gorman and Amnesty Ireland would be warning about the dangerous infringement on peaceful protest. Matt Cooper would be all but calling the banners to war on the Last Word.

After all, the measures introduced by Trudeau to halt the Trucker menace are extraordinary. Banks have been instructed to freeze accounts – not accounts of criminals, just anybody they suspect of protesting. Emergency powers are being used to make it a crime to be on the streets. The Canadian police, in full riot gear, have initiated a violent effort to clear the protestors away, and have not been sparing in their use of the baton.

All of this has been met, by the establishment in other western countries, with silence. And, if we’re really honest, tacit approval.

It has been met with tacit approval mainly because the truth of the matter is that there are no longer anything approaching universal principles, let alone universal freedoms, in the western world. We have cannibalised them, consciously.

Freedom of speech, for example, is largely gone. In many western countries, you can now be arrested for saying, tweeting, or promoting the wrong idea. Look no further for examples of that than Britain, where being arrested and tried for “transphobic” tweets is now a regular occurrence. Freedom of assembly is no longer absolute, either: Look at the contrasting reactions in Ireland to the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, as opposed to the anti-lockdown protests of early 2021. One protest was tolerated, the other met with batons.

Across the west, freedoms that were once universal are now openly regarded by much of the population as conditional. Freedom of speech is conditional on saying the correct things. Freedom of assembly is conditional on assembling for an approved purpose. Protests are an important part of democracy, conditional on your protesting for approved reasons. The raw truth of the matter is that a great many progressives now simply do not believe that basic democratic rights should apply to their opponents.

Do we imagine, for example, that if the Truckers were, instead, climate activists shutting down Ottowa to protest inaction on Climate Change, that Justin Trudeau’s Government would be behaving as it is? Do we think those protests would be called “far right”, or dispersed with force?

We are told, endlessly, that we live in a democratic world. Increasingly, we do not. It is not a democratic world when rights, and funding, and preference, are accorded based on what you believe. That is a sectarian world, with more in common with the zealotry of the reformation period in Europe than what it has any idea of republicanism. Then, as now, freedoms were granted and taken away on the basis of what people believed.

These fights are in the process of tearing the west apart, internally. And the fascinating thing about them is that they are fights people desire. One only has to look and listen to Trudeau to hear in his voice that he is enjoying this discord in his own country: The Truckers provide a villain, a group to stand against, a group to contrast himself with. He is the progressive, science-embracing, compassionate, enlightened leader of the reformation. They are – and have been called for a reason – racist, backward, low-status, undesirable, anti-science hicks.

This war is very attractive to progressives, because it is a global engagement. Trudeau is not just fighting Truckers who don’t want a mandatory vaccine: He is also fighting a proxy war against Donald Trump, and Brexit, and the French Yellow Vests, and the Government of Hungary, and pro-lifers, and climate change deniers, and all the rest of it. This is just another battle in the global culture war that progressives won, a long time ago, but cannot stop fighting.

Consider, if you will, the absurdity of it: This is a battle being fought on the issue of mandatory vaccines. A position so extreme that even NPHET in Ireland rejected it as illiberal and unnecessary. The Truckers are actually on the same side as the Irish Government on the merits of the issue. They are on the same side as much of the institutional EU, and the majority of the global scientific community.

They are not, in truth, being opposed because they are wrong. They are being opposed because of who they are, and what they represent to progressives: Their crime is not disagreeing with a policy, but refusing to bend the knee to a progressive icon.

This is, at its root, a class war. It is explicitly a conflict between political elites, and those whose attitudes our elites despise. That, and that alone, is why these protests are being treated so differently than those we saw in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

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