Former President Donald Trump, who has dubbed Black Lives Matter demonstrators “thugs” and “anarchists,” claimed he had “a lot of respect” for the largely white truckers who stopped roadways in Ottawa and shut down border crossings with the United States to protest COVID-19 regulations.
The trucks who parked bumper to bumper, according to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, are “heroes” fighting for a just cause. Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel expressed his “solidarity, love, and support” for the drivers, who also disobeyed police orders to clear Ottawa’s streets and disobeyed a court order prohibiting them from honking their horns. Sen. Rand Paul of the Republican Party encouraged them to travel south and “clog” streets in the United States.
The embrace of the truckers by some of the country’s most prominent conservative voices has prompted new accusations of hypocrisy, including that GOP leaders apply a racist double standard to large protests, such as the Jan. 6 insurgency at the US Capitol involving a mostly white crowd of Trump supporters.
The Republican National Committee labeled the Jan. 6 attack “legitimate political debate” earlier this month. However, only months before the uprising, Trump, Cruz, and other conservatives condemned nonviolent marches against police brutality and racial injustice, despite occasional instances of looting and rioting.
“This basically illustrates that in the United States, there is an uneven freedom to voice disagreement,” Karen Pita Loor, a professor at Boston University’s School of Law, said. “When you have Black Lives Matter protesters on the street who are ‘thugs,’ they scare you,” she said, describing conservatives’ support as “two-faced.” Conservatives appear to support a white, conservative rights movement, she said, but “when you have Black Lives Matter protesters on the street who are ‘thugs,’ they scare you.”
Conservatives argue that liberals have a double standard, in that they embrace the principle of demonstrating until they disagree with the reason.
The Freedom Convoy, a group of Canadian protesters, was proclaimed a national emergency and an unlawful occupation of the capital. For weeks, truckers have been blocking routes in Canada to protest vaccination mandates for truckers and other pandemic restrictions. They also stopped people from crossing the border into the United States, causing economic harm to both countries.
Hundreds of truckers stayed firm in Ottawa on Thursday as police surged in, threatening to break up the protest. Workers erected further walls around government buildings, while authorities began closing off most of downtown to outsiders in order to prevent them from assisting the demonstrators.
Conservatives argue that there is a fundamental contrast between the Canadian protests and the violence that occurred during rallies in Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon, following the assassination of George Floyd by a white cop.
“All citizens of the United States have the right to peacefully demonstrate.” But there’s a big difference between civil disobedience, which has a long history in our society, and destroying buildings, robbing businesses, and physically targeting real nonviolent protestors and innocent bystanders,” Paul remarked. People protesting the killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman tragically shot by police, encircled and accosted the Kentucky Republican in 2020.
Cruz’s office reiterated those remarks, adding the senator “has been very clear” about the right to peaceful protest. “What individuals don’t have the right to do is assault another person, plunder, or firebomb buildings – those actions, regardless of the circumstances, are not exercising a fundamental right.”
The difference between the Black Lives Matter rallies and the truckers, according to Hannity, is that the protests in Canada have been nonviolent.
Police detained 13 individuals and seized firearms and ammunition earlier this week in Coutts, Alberta, across the border from Montana, where a roadblock had interrupted trade for more than two weeks. Four guys are also charged with conspiracy for allegedly plotting the murder of Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel.
Conservative support in the United States goes beyond politicians’ statements. Right-wing activists opposed to pandemic mandates, as well as Justin Trudeau, Canada’s liberal prime minister, have given money to the protests in the hopes of motivating American voters ahead of this year’s midterm elections.
Republicans’ support for the Canadian protests, according to Mario Morrow, a Black political strategist who has worked for both Republican and Democratic governors in Michigan, is “hypocrisy at its greatest degree.”
The Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, Canada, and carries 25% of all trade between the two nations, was blocked during the demonstrations. Last week, the protesters forced the closure of a Ford facility in Canada. Shortages caused by the blockage led GM to postpone a shift at its midsize SUV manufacturing near Lansing, Michigan, last week.
Last weekend, police breached the roadblock at the bridge, which is the busiest and most significant crossing on the border, detaining hundreds of protesters.
“The supporters, especially Republicans, can’t defend the financial, moral support, or political comments they’re making by supporting these techniques,” Morrow added. He further stated that if the demonstrators were “something other than conservative white folks,” they would not receive the same backing.
“They’d have been locked up from the start,” he added.
Last week, Cruz applauded truckers for standing up to leftists who enforced regulations that they “had no authority to impose.” He said that the demonstrators spoke for both Canadians and Americans.
“It’s a powerful thing to witness,” he remarked.