James Bovard writes at his blog Is Freedom Public Enemy Number One? Excerpts in italics with my bolds. H/T Tyler Durden
The denigration of the Canadian trucker protest convoy exemplifies how freedom is now the biggest villain of the Covid-19 pandemic. A Washington Post cartoonist portrayed the trucker convoy as “fascism” incarnate while another Post column derided the “toxic ‘Freedom Convoy.’” Anyone who resists any government command is apparently now a public enemy.
The trucker protest was spurred by the Canadian government’s sweeping Covid vaccine mandate. Many truckers believe the risks of the vaccine outweighs the benefit and, more importantly, that they have the right to control their own bodies. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared on Monday, “There is no place in our country for threats, violence or hatred.” Except for the hatred Trudeau whips up by denouncing vaccine mandate opponents as “racist” and “misogynistic.” And except for the “threats” and “violence” used by government enforcement agents to compel submission to any pandemic decree issued by Trudeau or other politicians.
Since the start of this pandemic, many people who boasted of their trust in “science and data” also believed that absolute power would keep them safe. According to their scorecard, anyone who objected to government commands was the equivalent of a heretic who must be condemned if not banished from everyplace except the cemetery. North of the border, Quebec epitomizes this intolerance with its new edict prohibiting unvaccinated individuals from shopping at Costco or Walmart.
The same critics who latch onto any obnoxious behavior by a few wayward Canadian truckers (MSNBC denounced them as a “cult”)’ to condemn freedom are also happy to exonerate any American politician who pointlessly destroyed freedom during the pandemic with bizarre edicts. In December 2020, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti banned all unnecessary “travel, including, without limitation, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit.” The mayor (who was caught violating California mask mandates at the NFC championship game) offered no evidence to justify placing four million residents under house arrest. Governor Ralph Northam dictated that all Virginians must stay indoors from midnight until 5 a.m, with a few narrow exceptions. Federal judge William Stickman IV condemned Pennsylvania’s restrictions:
“Broad population-wide lockdowns are such a dramatic inversion of the concept of liberty in a free society as to be nearly presumptively unconstitutional.”
Preventing politicians from obliterating freedom is now the worst form of tyranny. On Thanksgiving Eve 2020, the Supreme Court struck down Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s edict that limited religious gatherings in New York to ten or fewer people while permitting far more leeway for businesses to operate. The Court declared that Cuomo’s rules were “far more restrictive than any Covid-related regulations that have previously come before the Court… and far more severe than has been shown to be required to prevent the spread of the virus.” An American Civil Liberties Union official fretted that “the freedom to worship… does not include a license to harm others or endanger public health.” Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe and Cornell professor Michael Dorf warned that the Supreme Court was becoming “a place like Gilead — the theocratic and misogynist country in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’”
Many progressives talk as if America faces a choice between reckless freedom and paternalism – i.e., submission to a benevolent elite. But regardless of Fauci’s boundless conceit, omniscient officials have yet to come to the rescue. Government agencies have blundered catastrophically since the start of the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control bollixed America’s initial response by sending out faulty, contaminated test kits to health agencies that failed to detect the rapidly spreading virus. Governors panicked and shut down schools, resulting in vast losses in learning and widening the achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. The vast majority of small businesses were locked down and thousands were bankrupted in a futile effort to prevent an airborne virus from continuing to spread. Placing scores of millions of people under house arrest led to record-breaking fatalities for drug overdoses and a tidal wave of depression and anxiety. New York City’s covid vaccine passport regime failed to prevent the Big Apple from becoming the hottest spot in the nation for the omicron variant.
President Biden portrayed the vaccines as a magic bullet and falsely promised that people who got injected would not get Covid. The C.D.C. stopped counting “breakthrough” cases of Covid among the fully vaccinated, paving the way for a resurgence of the virus that has now infected more than 70 million Americans. Or maybe 200+ million Americans since C.D.C. previously stated that only one in four cases are diagnosed and reported. Whatever. The Food and Drug Administration is seeking to delay fully disclosing Pfizer’s application for its Covid vaccine approval for 75 years. After Biden issued a mandate that forced hospitals to fire healthy unvaccinated nurses, the CDC said it was OK for hospitals to rely on Covid positive nurses to treat patients – one of the biggest absurdities of the pandemic.
Freedom is not a panacea for every challenge in life. But it is far superior to boundless submission to tinhorn dictators who know far less than they claim. Politicians like Trudeau and Biden who fuel mass rage against any group that does not kowtow to officialdom are sowing seeds of hatred that will proliferate long after the pandemic ends.
In the long run, people have more to fear from politicians than from viruses.
Media War Analysis From Winnipeg Sun
Joe Warmington’s article is Which poll on support for trucker vaccine mandates do you believe? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
Which poll do you think better reflects the mood of Canada? The professional one with a select panel of participants or the reaction of tens of thousands on social media?
As the Freedom Convoy 2022 rolls toward Ottawa, a national poll reveals “only one-in-three Canadian’s fully support allowing unvaccinated truckers to cross the US/Canada border.”
A “national survey,” posted Thursday by Maru Public Opinion, indicates just “28%” are for truckers crossing border “without any difficulty in order to deliver food, goods, and other materials to a variety of Canadian destinations.”
Says Maru: “On the other hand, a full majority (72%) of Canadians believe that the borders should be flat out closed to truckers unless they are either fully vaccinated (36%) or, as an alternative middle-ground between the two extremes of being barred or having unfettered access, they show proof of the results of a negative COVID test taken within the previous 72-hours (36%).”
But unlike with most polls, this time there is something to compare it to. For example, while highly-respected Maru’s survey, put out by the company and not paid for by a sponsor, said it polled 1,500 people across the country, a GoFundMe page posted this month has raised more than $6.2 million from more than 80,000 donors.
And a Freedom Convoy 2022 Facebook page — Convoy to Ottawa 2022 — has more than 700,000 followers. Not exactly a “small fringe” group of people, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed Wednesday.
Trudeau’s harsh words toward this group, and the scrutiny the media has put it under, outweighs vetting other polls typically get.
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre dealt with that double standard Thursday as he asked reporters “when was the last time the press gallery went through the social media posts of every single person attending a left-wing protest to find and report every crazy comment made” while saying it’s wrong to “disparage the thousands of hard-working, law-abiding and peaceful truckers, who quite frankly have kept all of you alive.”
Some professional polls may show low support for the convoy, but tens of thousands of Canadians, who put their money where their mouths are, may disagree.
Update Feb. 4:
Canadian truckers protesting COVID-19 rules said they are lawyering up after GoFundMe suspended their fundraising page. The page surpassed its $10 million goal, but GoFundMe pulled the plug as it investigates the effort for potential violations.
“This fundraiser is currently paused and under review to ensure it complies with our terms of service and applicable laws and regulations,” read a notice at the top of the convoy’s GoFundMe page. “Our team is working 24/7 and doing all we can to protect both organizers and donors. Thank you for your patience.”
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based firm, confirmed it is representing the Freedom Convoy 2022 in Ottawa and “has a team of lawyers on the ground providing legal assistance and advice.”
Background Why the News Is Not the Truth
The U.S. press, like the U.S. government, is a corrupt and troubled institution. Corrupt not so much in the sense that it accepts bribes but in a systemic sense. It fails to do what it claims to do, what it should do, and what society expects it to do.
The news media and the government are entwined in a vicious circle of mutual manipulation, mythmaking, and self-interest. Journalists need crises to dramatize news, and government officials need to appear to be responding to crises. Too often, the crises are not really crises but joint fabrications. The two institutions have become so ensnared in a symbiotic web of lies that the news media are unable to tell the public what is true and the government is unable to govern effectively. That is the thesis advanced by Paul H. Weaver, a former political scientist (at Harvard University), journalist (at Fortune magazine), and corporate communications executive (at Ford Motor Company), in his provocative analysis entitled News and the Culture of Lying: How Journalism Really Works.
The news media and the government have created a charade that serves their own interests but misleads the public. Officials oblige the media’s need for drama by fabricating crises and stage-managing their responses, thereby enhancing their own prestige and power. Journalists dutifully report those fabrications. Both parties know the articles are self-aggrandizing manipulations and fail to inform the public about the more complex but boring issues of government policy and activity.
What has emerged, Weaver argues, is a culture of lying. “The culture of lying,” he writes, “is the discourse and behavior of officials seeking to enlist the powers of journalism in support of their goals, and of journalists seeking to co-opt public and private officials into their efforts to find and cover stories of crisis and emergency response. It is the medium through which we Americans conduct most of our public business (and a lot of our private business) these days.” The result, he says, is a distortion of the constitutional role of government into an institution that must continually resolve or appear to resolve crises; it functions in “a new and powerful permanent emergency mode of operation.”
Wary of making decisions based on opinion or belief, the U.S. public has come to rely on facts, data, surveys, and presumably scientific studies. People are increasingly reluctant to believe any assertion that is not supported by statistical research. Yet, Crossen writes, “more and more of the information we use to buy, elect, advise, acquit and heal has been created not to expand our knowledge but to sell a product or advance a cause.”
A growing industry has thus developed to create the research to legitimize policy positions or marketing objectives. Public policy debates now commonly revolve around competing estimates of cost, effectiveness, or risk, rather than around the intrinsic merits of a proposal. Much of the health care debate raged around differing estimates of the numbers of citizens without health coverage and the costs of the various proposals to cover them. When President Bill Clinton promised Congress that he would rely on the forecasts of federal spending and deficits of the Congressional Budget Office rather than on those of the executive branch’s Office of Management and Budget, the representatives and senators cheered; they consider the CBO’s forecasts to be more favorable to Congress’s spending proclivities than those of the more cautious OMB.
Concocted or inaccurate surveys and studies taint our perceptions of what is true, and they distort public policy debates. Crossen concurs with Weaver that the media’s desire for drama encourages the distortion and corruption of public decision making. “The media are willing victims of bad information, and increasingly they are producers of it. They take information from self-interested parties and add to it another layer of self-interest—the desire to sell information.”
A press driven by drama and crises creates a government driven by response to crises. Such an “emergency government can’t govern,” Weaver concludes. “Not only does public support for emergency policies evaporate the minute they’re in place and the crisis passes, but officials acting in the emergency mode can’t make meaningful public policies. According to the classic textbook definition, government is the authoritative allocation of values, and emergency government doesn’t authoritatively allocate values.”
If you read the excerpts or followed the link, you will have realized this knowledge was published in the Harvard Business Review May-June 1995.