Mike Lindell, the now-infamous “MyPillow” guy who has been peddling false tales of Trump’s electoral victory for a year now, tried to cross the Canadian border on Tuesday night in a truck laden with 10,000 pillows (and 10,000 Bibles), meant for the “Freedom Convoy” protesters in Ottawa. He was stopped butt-cold at the gate and sent home. Undeterred, Lindell has promised to drop those pillows (though presumably not the Bibles?) onto the protest from a helicopter. There’s an old WKRP in Cincinnati episode along these lines; it did not end well for the cargo.
This is what I’m talking about. How do you look at this and do anything but facepalm your nose out the back of your neck? Resist the temptation, because it has the potential to get dangerous on a large scale, and that soon. The Nazis have shown up with their flags and iron crosses, the Confederates (in Canada? Paging Clement Vanlandingham) and the Trumpy QAnon-ers with their threatening signs have all come out to play. Not much good follows this sort of turnout.
The ones who started the show, who parked their trucks over the specific issue of Canada’s new border-cross vaccine mandate, certainly had every right to do it. And the action has been wildly successful if measured by size and media attention paid… but somewhere in there, the whole thing went from having a shred of potential (if factually wrongheaded and scientifically dangerous) dignity and turned into the party scene at the end of Weird Science. Scratch the surface, and another sloppy human monument to overt white supremacy is revealed.
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The Ottawa protest began small — most Canadians, and specifically most Canadian truckers, do not support the truckers who began this action. It was bound to end quietly and with little media fanfare, until all sorts of American money began pouring into the organizer’s GoFundMe accounts, they were the new heroes of Fox News, and suddenly their ranks were swelled with the same Trump-bound, right-wing all-stars who have made U.S. politics such a rich pageant of late.
With increased size came increased attention, followed by more size, and more attention again… and somewhere in there, the moment stopped being a Canadian protest about vaccine mandates and expanded into what swaths of Americans will be doing on Saturday night 10 years from now if Trump wins again in ‘24 (h/t HST).
Many of the “Freedom Convoy” joiners are loud, belligerent or actively hostile, not only to pandemic safety strictures but to the Canadian locals who are suddenly up to their eyeballs in characters who make the Capitol insurrection’s “QAnon Shaman” look like Epicurus of Samos. This, again, appears to be an imported phenomenon.
“The Ottawa protests have made clear that extreme elements supporting fascism and white nationalism are attracted to the movement,” writes Henry Giroux for Truthout, “and visible in the appearance of neo-Nazi and Confederate flags and an abundance of QAnon logos emblazoned on trucks, signs and stickers. Moreover, some sources are suggesting that a significant amount of funding, over $8 million as of February 7, may have come from right-wing sources in the United States. Some of the highest individual donations have come from American billionaires. Funding from the states has so alarmed members of the New Democratic Party that they have called it ‘an attack on Canada’s democracy’ and have asked the U.S. ambassador ‘to testify before the House of Commons foreign affairs committee.’”
There was a moment some days ago when I felt somewhat sorry for the original convoy organizers, but that sentiment had the half-life of a bedfart. For one thing, while the main focus of their protest has been subsumed by a bilge tide of right-wing noise stamped “Made in the U.S.A.,” they still appear to be enjoying the hell out of themselves right now.
They are happily giving very official-looking press conferences designed to increase the hostility of the gathering and make a violent public crunch with law enforcement all but inevitable. “As the authorities threaten to arrest people blocking the streets of the capital,” reports The New York Times, “protest organizers on Wednesday appealed to supporters to pour into Ottawa and make their gatherings too large for the police to disperse.”
Worst of all, I am mortally certain variations of this thing will be the Hot Item on right-wing calendars by March. I’m fairly shocked we’re not already seeing Trump trucks at intersections all across the country.
In Canada, it was about vaccine mandates. Here, if it does come, similar actions would certainly seem to be another tactical maneuver toward a second insurrection; a practice run, if you will, under the cover of “We Hate Everything” protest cacophony.
What better way to bog down a federal response to a second coup attempt than to clog the intersections of vital areas with Peterbilts and Macks? Park it, cut the engine, throw the keys in the river and walk away… or bunker in. It’s just that simple.