Canadian truckers are such an obviously genuinely naturally "diverse" group that one would have thought the Canadian media's wholesale support for Jacinda Trudeau's libel of them as Nazi white supremacists would have been too insulting to the intelligence of even CBC viewers. The general vibe of what's happening isn't hard to discover: Convoy supporters play street hockey under the watchful gaze of a fully armed RCMP tactical unit, whose colleagues are busy preemptively destroying private property on private land.
In any previous Canadian media environment, it would be the behaviour of the Mounties that would be abnormal and under scrutiny. But physical lockdown seems to have inculcated in the citizenry a psychological lockdown that will be far harder to lift. So, on the CBC's Cross-Country Check-Up (a show once hosted by Rex Murphy), the word "freedom" is now suspect:
Why the word 'freedom' is such a useful rallying cry for protesters
The word has become common among far-right groups, experts say
Oh, my! Thank goodness you warned me:
As demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions continue across Canada, the word freedom is on the lips and placards of many protesters.
Often associated with protests and rallies in the United States, the term has taken hold among protesters who are part of the Freedom Convoy, which rolled into Ottawa in late January and has become entrenched in the city's downtown.
For many, freedom is a malleable term — one that's open to interpretation.
That flexibility, in part, has fuelled its growth among certain groups, said Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at the Oshawa-based Ontario Tech University...
It's also a term that has thrived among far-right groups, said Perry, one of a number of experts who say the presence of far-right groups in Canada is growing.
So use of the word "freedom" may be the first clue that you're a fascist. Steer clear of this word, people! "Freedom is slavery," as some English fellow (who, like Ms Perry, worked for a public broadcaster) once wrote.
Was it only Friday that I was regretting the way "free speech" had declined into a mere "right-wing" thing? We are maybe a fortnight away from some crude social-media AI algorithm that automatically bans any Facebook posts banging on about "freedom". War is peace, freedom is slavery and, above all else these last two years, ignorance is strength: Just "follow the science", which means wearing your tatty old cloth mask, not Googling the Great Barrington Declaration, and telling your suicidal kid to stop being such a whiner.
~Kate McMillan has posted a commenter's analysis of where we stand:
Canadian politicians and public health officials at all levels of government have presided over two of the most miserable years in Canada's history since the Great Depression. COVID-19 may have been a dangerous disease, but their response to it has resulted in economic chaos and misery. Instead of focusing on treating the sick, all of their public health policy has centered on controlling the healthy. Politically, they've painted themselves into a corner, and they now have no easy way to retreat without looking like failures.
That last sentence is what I was saying a year or so back. But I've moved on ...because it has been known for a long time now that "lockdown" is an ineffectual public-health measure - that, indeed, killed more people than would otherwise have died, and which even Hollywood types now recognise will have long-term health costs on our youth. It has "only" failed in public-health terms.
That leaves the "controlling" - which has been a huge success, and which they're determined to continue by any means necessary: In Ontario, the cops come to your house if you Facebook your support for the convoy. In Paris, if you're out and about enjoying a coffee and croissant, the flics spray tear-gas into the café. In Wellington, the Parliament of New Zealand is reduced to driving away the "freedom" fascists by pumping out non-stop Barry Manilow.
(For young 'uns, Mr Manilow is best known for a song called "Copabanana":
His name was Justin
He was a showboy
With Kiwi polish on his face
His banana in its place...)
~In England (but not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland), the Covid regime has been suspended, but The Guardian is already panting to bring it back:
A future variant of Covid-19 could be much more dangerous and cause far higher numbers of deaths and cases of serious illness than Omicron, leading UK scientists have warned.
And not just "leading UK scientists" but "educators" too:
Robin Bevan, headteacher of Southend high school for boys, said last week's announcement felt premature: 'It would be much more reassuring – and also be much easier to explain to parents and to pupils – if there was a narrative rooted in science rather than a narrative rooted in libertarian aspiration.'
That would have been a better sneer if Mr Bevan had scoffed at "a narrative rooted in freedom".
~On Thursday's Mark Steyn Show, I asked Matt Ridley about the latest revelations re the laboratory origins of Covid. In the course of the chit-chat, Viscount Ridley mentioned Peter Daszak's EcoHealth Alliance, the principal conduit between the US Government and Wuhan on "gain of function" research. So I brought up the recent claims by Mr Daszak's Chief Operating Officer that EHA was a CIA front, as opposed to simply the recipient of CIA funds. Lord Ridley was reluctant to go there - and Kate Smyth, in our comments section, rolled her eyes:
Good grief... Matt Ridley prefers to believe in cock-ups rather than conspiracies, despite everything he says about EcoHealth Alliance 'completely lying', and the extent of the known cover-up: 'It's behaving as if it's an organisation of the Chinese state.'
Well, I think we're all tiptoeing towards something truly terrible:
"Gain of function" is a coy euphemism for bio-terror research which parts of the United States Government had offshored to Wuhan, possibly illegally (so maybe John Durham's investigation could be expanded for another decade or three). That is in itself staggering and shameful - and, as Ms Smyth says, that's just "the known cover-up".
But the struggle going on, to one degree or another, in Ottawa and elsewhere is between a percentage of the citizenry who'd like normality back and western governments determined to maintain and tighten the "control". Why the unprecedented virulence toward the "unvaccinated", or even toward vaccinated persons opposed to mandates? Why does Macron want to "emmerder" them and the CBC need to damn them as agents of Putin?
The struggle between the permanent emergency and normality is about as primal as it gets in democratic societies - and the reactions of our leaders are, to put it mildly, extremely weird.
~Then again, for many - indeed, hundreds of millions across the west - "normality" is a fading memory, isn't it? A thought for the day from that other futuristic dystopia:
Aldous Huxley, in a 1946 preface to Brave New World (1932), wrote of a people of slaves who would love their enslavement: 'A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude'.
Freedom is servitude: just ask the CBC.
~We had a very busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with our latest Clubland Q&A, which considered truckers, China and much more. Rick McGinnis's weekly film date was Jean Arthur in The More the Merrier, and, on the eve of Valentine's Day you must remember my Sunday song selection. Our marquee presentation was my latest Tale for Our Time: The Million-Pound Bank Note by Mark Twain. You can hear Part One here, Part Two here and the conclusion here.
If you were too busy getting tear-gassed in a Parisian café this weekend, we hope you'll want to check out one or three of the foregoing as a new week begins.
Clubland Q&A and Tales for Our Time are special productions for The Mark Steyn Club.