In GOP’s embrace of Canadian truckers and Capitol rioters, some see a double standard
(AP) – Former President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called Black Lives Matter protesters “thugs” and “anarchists,” said there was “a lot of respect” for the overwhelming majority white people truckers who have blocked streets of the Canadian capital and closed border crossings with the United States to oppose restrictions related to COVID-19.
For Republican Senator Ted Cruz, truckers who parked bumper to bumper are “heroes” fighting for a just cause. The Fox News Channel Sean Hannity sent “solidarity, love and support” to the drivers, who also defied police orders to clear Ottawa streets and ignored a court order banning them from honking their horns. GOP Senator Rand Paul encouraged them to head south and ‘clog’ streets in the United States
The hugging of truckers by some of the country’s most prominent conservative voices has sparked fresh accusations of hypocrisy and allegations that GOP leaders are applying a racist double standard to major protests, including the January 6 Uprising at the United States Capitol involving a mostly white crowd of Trump supporters.
Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee called the January 6 attack “legitimate political discourse”. But just months before the insurgency, Trump, Cruz and other conservatives excoriated protests against police brutality and racial injustice that were largely peaceful, with some instances of looting and unrest.
“This shows once again that there is only an unequal right to dissent in the United States,” said Karen Pita Loor, a professor at Boston University School of Law. She called Tory support ‘two-sided’, saying Tories seem to support a white and conservative rights movement, but ‘when you have Black Lives Matter protesters on the streets who are ‘thugs’ , they scare you”.
Conservatives counter that there is a double standard on the other side – that liberals support the idea of protesting, until they disagree with the cause.
The Canadian protests known as the Freedom Convoy have been declared a national emergency and an illegal occupation of the capital. For weeks, drivers have blocked the streets to oppose vaccination mandates for truckers in Canada and other pandemic restrictions. They also blocked US border crossings, inflicting economic damage on both countries.
Canadian police began arrest protesters late Thursday, when they picked up two key protest leaders. Officers returned Friday morning, going door to door along a line of trucks and other vehicles after closing much of downtown to outsiders. Some demonstrators were taken away in handcuffs.
Conservatives say there is a clear distinction between Canadian protests and instances of violence during protests over the killing of George Floyd by a white officer in Minneapolis, including burned buildings in that city and in Portland, Oregon.
“All Americans have the right to peaceful protest. But there is a stark contrast between civil disobedience – which is an age-old tradition in our country – and the burning of buildings, the looting of businesses and the violent attack of genuine peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders,” said Paul. The Kentucky Republican was surrounded and confronted in 2020 by people protesting the death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman shot dead by police.
A spokesperson for Cruz echoed those comments, saying the senator “has been very clear” about the right to nonviolent protest. “What people are not allowed to do is assault another person, loot and burn buildings – these actions do not exercise a constitutional right under any circumstances.”
Hannity said this week that the difference between the Black Lives Matter protests and truckers is that the protests in Canada have been peaceful.
In the Alberta border town of Coutts, across from Montana, where a blockade has disrupted commerce for more than two weeks, police arrested 13 people and seized firearms and ammunition earlier this week. Four men also face a conspiracy charge alleging they conspired to kill Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers.
The support of conservatives in the United States goes beyond the words of politicians. Right-wing activists who oppose pandemic mandates and Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have also give money to the protests, hoping the protests will help motivate American voters ahead of this year’s midterm elections.
Mario Morrow, a black political consultant who has served both the GOP and Democratic governors of Michigan, called Republican support for the Canadian protests “hypocrisy at its highest.”
The protests included a blockade the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, Canada, and carries 25% of all trade between the two countries. The protests also forced the closure of a Canadian Ford plant last week. Shortages due to the blockade forced General Motors to cancel a shift last week at its midsize SUV plant near Lansing, Michigan.
Police broke the blockade at the bridge – the busiest and most important border crossing – last weekend, arresting dozens of protesters.
“There’s no way supporters, especially Republicans, can justify the financial support, the moral support and the political statements they’re making in support of these tactics,” Morrow said. He also said the protesters would not get the same support if they were “anything other than conservative white individuals”.
“They would have been locked up – day one,” he said.
Cruz praised truckers last week for standing up to Liberals who imposed mandates they “have no right to impose.” He said the protesters were speaking not only for Canadians, but also for Americans.
“I think it’s powerful to watch,” he said.
Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Padmananda Rama in Washington contributed to this report.
Copyright 2022 KWTX. All rights reserved.