Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Dangerous Part

 The argument over whether the trucker convoy headed to Ottawa is a bunch of hillbilly-anti-vax-white-nationalists or the most hopeful momentum of protest against government restrictions is a distraction from what I think is the real tipping point here, and it only serves to continue to divide the country even further.

This has grown into a much larger issue than just vaccine choices and while some will certainly frame the protest in such a light, given the scope of support it's seeing, I think it's important to consider that it is much more than a single issue movement (and in fact, some would argue is not about vaccine choice at all). 

When Trump was elected, I was among those who was astounded and confused. And I stayed that way for the first months of his election, confused over the support such a deplorable leader could rally. But the more I paid attention to the kind of folks who were behind him, the more clear it became that it was less about him as a person and more about him as a boisterous voice, an attention getter. He was offering a very public and loud voice for a large segment of people who felt ignored and marginalized.  Whether they actually were or not, is up for debate in a different article, but they FELT they were and they were angry about it. 

I think we're seeing a glimpse of that with this Freedom Convoy. There are a lot of people who have kept their opinions to themselves about the rules and regulations over the last couple years. The risk of saying anything against the rules was to risk being labelled a careless, selfish bigot who doesn't care if vulnerable people die so rather than question a publicly supported narrative, a lot of folks have kept to themselves. Some, more vocal folks have fanned dangerous flames on the internet, spawning lots of questionable information and garnering support from some vulnerable folks. 

But there are a lot of people who roll their eyes at the angry Facebook warriors and still have questions that they're scared to ask and are frustrated at the limited dialogue. Just as there were a lot of folks who didn't attend Trump rallies but who still quietly put their vote beside his name because they finally felt heard. Just as there are a lot of people in support of the convoy who have never posted a comment on the internet, waved a flag or complained to you about any of the rules. 

So if you're someone who has been publicly critical, shared a dismissive article, maybe posted a clever meme or come up with a cynical new pun for the name of the movement, consider that there may be someone close to you who you assume has the same views as you, but has just been keeping to themselves because that is what is acceptable. Consider that by sharing your negative views of what is (thus far) a peaceful protest that is clearly supported by a lot of folks, you're making yourself yet one more unsafe place for that person to turn with their questions. 

And if your reaction to that is, "Good! I don't want to be a safe place for 'anti-vaxxers'! They're not worth my time!" then it's time to consider that you're no better than the most vocal, unmovable protester and we'll never reach common ground as a country. 

And the problem with that, is that we risk electing officials over ideologies and not policies. That's where things get dangerous. 

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