Anti-mandate protests in Canada and New Zealand: Ignorance fighting reality
How people in two of the richest countries on Earth have made a laughing stock of not only themselves, but also of democracy and genuine protest
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” -
- Buckminster Fuller
Recently a Jamaican friend of mine told me that she bought airline tickets for her two teenage daughters to fly to Miami to get vaccinated against Covid. Jamaica is currently being inundated with thousands of covid cases, hospital ICUs are at capacity and there are little to no vaccines available for the general public. Not for lack of want, but for lack of planning and resources. Most people in Jamaica want to get vaccinated but just do not have access, so only the lucky and privileged ones, like my friend, can get themselves and their families vaccinated in the nearby US.
Genuine protest: Ukraine
Jump back to November 21st, 2013 in Kyiv Ukraine, the start of the Euromaidan protests. Dubbed the “Revolution of Dignity” - Euromaidan was an uprising of the Ukrainian people protesting their government. What had happened just prior was that Ukraine had been about to sign a major trade and cultural exchange deal with the EU, but in the last minute, the Russian backed president bowed to Vladimir Putin and rejected the deal. Thousands of protestors showed up in front of the Ukrainian parliament to protest the government and these decisions.
The demonstrations escalated and the Ukrainian military and police moved into the protest and used physical violence against the demonstrators. Over a hundred people died in these altercations. Major change ensued, a newly elected government and the Ukrainian people got what they wanted with these EU trade sanctions.
Inspired by idiots
Jump forward to Ottawa in mid January 2022 when a group of truckers joined up in Vancouver to drive across Canada to protest vaccine mandates in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. Many other truckers joined and the convoy got dubbed the “Freedom Convoy”. When they finally arrived in central Ottawa in front of the parliament, they were greeted by a growing crowd of anti-mandate, anti-vaccination protestors and quickly laid the siege to the centre of the city. These giant, immovable trucks proved to be a formidable blockade as a headstone for the protest. Journalists reporting from the area record a confusing mix of loving, hippy energy mixed with hardcore anti-government, right wing sentiment.
Placards depicting swastikas and other disturbing white supremacy platitudes (“mandates are like the holocaust”) are dotted throughtout. After weeks of protest crippling the local economy and neighbourhood, the Canadian parliament invoked a state of emergency and moved their police in to the protests to forcibly dissolve the people. No one got killed.
Antipodea follows suit, the blind leading the blind
Jump to the parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. Same scenario minus the trucks. Disgruntled New Zealanders, upset with the vaccine mandates but mainly the vaccine itself, have occupied parliament grounds with a similar presence of bizarre anti-vaccination rhetoric, Trump flags and holocaust references. A whole cornucopia of individuals are present, the hippies, the yoga teachers, the wellness influencers as well as the right wing fringe elements as we saw in Ottawa. New Zealand police have reacted passively to not at all. For fear of more riots, they seem to be tolerating this mix of a political protest and music festival replete with live bands. People are camping out everywhere, the big difference to Ottawa is the season, where temperatures go well below zero at night and as such it is only the truckers, in their heated sleeping nooks who can stay there overnight. The NZ protestors have the blanket of summer on their side, where camping is indeed possible.
I’m all for people protesting and I agree that people should be allowed to hold their own opinions and express these. But there is a line. A line that professor Karl Popper outlines in his Paradox of Tolerance. Here the philosopher argues that if society tolerates the intolerant, the society will eventually become intolerant itself. At least 8 frontline police officers have now tested positive for covid.
The hundreds of protestors that have traveled there from all over the country have been urged to leave Wellington if they start showing symptoms. The director of Wellington hospital has told the protestors that they will not be welcome at the hospital should they fall ill. Jacinda Ardern has a big decision to make. We’ve had multiple days of thousands of covid cases reported in the community, it is only a matter of time until this protest explodes with cases. As anyone who has ever been camping will know, that type of living is not conducive toward fending off illness, let alone a dangerous respiratory virus that has caused the death of nearly 6 million people worldwide.
Regardless of what YOU think, this is still a pandemic and it can get worse
We are still in the midst of a raging pandemic. New Zealand is unique in that it has only recently been exposed to covid. Yes omicron is a new variant, but it is far from mild or comparable to a flu. This version of covid presumably evolved after delta spilled over into animals and then re-entered the human species. This is referred to as zoonotic spillback and is pretty, super scary. Genomics experts have not been able to figure out how these mutations came about within humans. One theory stipulates that delta infected an HIV positive individual in South Africa and then had enough time to multiply and mutate because this individual’s immune system was compromised. This does make sense but the likelihood is not as high as covid infecting a mouse and then reinfecting humans. Some of the mutations appear to be murine-specific, meaning that they confer advantages in a mouse infection. This is something people who keep pets will have to think long and hard about. A mouse infected, eaten by a cat who then sleeps on your pillow is a far more likely way of getting infected than going to the supermarket in your mask. Just a thought.
Back to the Ukraine, a legitimate protest, trying to defend sovereignty and the people’s rights. Ukrainians wanted to embrace the EU and all that it brings, as opposed to stepping backwards to Russia and kowtowing to Putin’s demands. Putin’s mother was Ukrainian and he has more than a mildly belligerent notion of restoring the “old Russia” - he is being driven by a romanticised view of the past, much like Trump with his “Make America Great Again” - when was America great Donald? During the genocide of the native people? During slavery? During the internment of the Japanese? Same goes for Putin, when was Russia great? The tsarist reign, the gulags, the starvations?
But after months of protests, the Ukrainians got what they wanted. Hundreds of people sacrificed for a cause that was worthy of uprising.
To me personally, these ‘anti-mandate' protests resemble protests that people would have to a particularly novel cancer medication or some type of technological advancement that they don’t understand. Medical luddites of the 21st century. Their messages are convoluted and even though the majority of protestors are fashioning it as some type of “anti-mandate” protest, the real core of it goes a lot deeper. It is a form of protest against technology, democracy and the rule of law. The number of anti-science, anti-vaxx sentiments on display in conjunction to right wing flags and Nuremburg trials, featuring a noose around our prime minister’s head, calling for public executions, is not only misplaced, it is vile and disgusting on the most basic of levels. It comes as no surprise that FOX news and their bottom feeder hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson embrace and salivate over this ‘predominantly white' uprising, as akin to the civil rights movement. The irony is pretty hollow.
Common sense is not so common
Our country locked down early and curbed the spread of covid. We bought ourselves two years until a functioning vaccine was developed and deployed. All the decisions made by our government were spot on and got us to this place where 90% of the country is vaccinated. Instead of cheering for them, these deluded people are focusing on other issues like the science behind the vaccine and blaming our politicians for having this vaccine available. It truly beggars belief. A sad, hopeless, spoilt and entitled people.
Just remember my friend in Jamaica who had to send her two young daughters at her own expense to Miami to get vaccinated because the local government could not afford nor organise a country-wide roll out of this life saving medical intervention. Jamaica is certainly not the only country in the world facing these shortages. There are more countries like that, than ones who have access.
It’s also striking that the two most privileged countries on Earth in terms of geographical setting, social welfare and relative wealth of their governments, Canada and New Zealand are at the forefront of these protests. It reminds me of entitled little children, who don’t even know how good they have it.
Next. Move the police in and disperse the crowds, they certainly don’t represent the majority of the country, they are a tiny minority. This morning I was thinking about what would happen if all of New Zealand’s homeless people would move on to parliament grounds. What would happen to them?
Exactly. Just because you’re privileged and own a home, does not buy you any special rights. The protestors aren’t like the Ukrainians, or even Don Qixote fighting imaginary fascist windmills, they are more akin to the Kardashians, fighting over what television programme to watch. Pathetic, embarassing and completely boring.
As far as you could possibly get from a “revolution of dignity.”
The World According to von Roy
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