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Port: The 'Freedom Convoy' people think they're fighting tyranny, and that's embarrassing

Our country would be better off if these performative Karens on the left and the right spent less time seeking the spotlight and more time doing something constructive.

The front of a semi is bedecked with a banner that reads "freedom convoy 2022." Onlookers wave American flags.
A semi-truck in the convoy headed for Washington, D.C., is greeted by supporters at the Stamart Travel Center in Bismarck on Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Kyle Martin / The Forum
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MINOT, N.D. — Imagine you're Ukrainian.

You've fled your country ahead of Vladimir Putin's missile strikes and tank columns. You have no idea if your home or career still exists. You've tried to gather enough resources to support you and your family on the run, but you're down to relying on the charity of strangers to get by, and you have no idea where next week's meals and shelter might be coming from.

Meanwhile, some of your loved ones stayed behind to courageously prosecute a guerrilla war against the invaders, risking everything to fling Molotov cocktails at armored vehicles and armed infantry.

Every once in a while, maybe you'll get a message from one them confirming they're still alive, and not dead or maimed.

And maybe, while you're waiting for those messages, you'll catch an international headline about a movement of spoiled, crybaby Americans who have the sort of free time and disposable income it takes to drive big rigs hundreds or thousands of miles to Washington, D.C., to protest the supposed tyranny of vaccination.

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There is a lot of valid criticism to be made about the way certain politicians and public health officials have handled the COVID-19 pandemic. At times, their reaction to that plague bordered on the hysterical. Many of them abandoned attempts to persuade Americans to take steps like vaccination, and instead invoked, in stentorian tones, technocratic justifications for making you do what they want.

We're the experts, many of them told us. Do as we say, or else.

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All immigrants should be welcome in our communities, but given our nation's unique ties to Liberia, Liberians should perhaps be even more welcome than most.

The damage that overreaction has done to American respect for public health officials will last for a generation, though it's not the least bit helped by the obnoxious gang of charlatans who have used the pandemic to bolster conspiracy theories and the intellectually vapid anti-vaccine campaign.

Speaking of which, let's talk about this "Freedom Convoy" again.

The federal vaccine mandates are bad public policy. If we want to be a free society, we must accomplish things through choice, not force. But is that enough justification for a national convoy to Washington, D.C., just a little more than a year after the violence of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack perpetrated by people who, let's face it, have a lot in common, politically, with the "Freedom Convoy" folks?

Derek DePauw, a convoy organizer here in North Dakota, told our Adam Willis that their demonstrations will be "100% peaceful," though undermining that claim was the presence at their send-off in Bismarck of U.S. Senate candidate Rick Becker who spent his time last weekend at a political event that called for mass arrests and political executions .

I hope they'll be peaceful.

I even believe that many of them want to be peaceful.

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I'm deeply skeptical that they will be peaceful.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, people are fighting for their lives against a real despot bent on implementing actual tyranny with military-grade violence and nuclear-themed saber-rattling.

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Supporters greet truck drivers that participate in the Health Freedom truck convoy during their stop in Fargo at the Petro station on 45th St. S. on Thursday, March 3, 2022..
David Samson/The Forum

This week, Russian forces attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and, for a while, we seemed on the brink of Armageddon. The world, including the United States government, is calling it a war crime, and with good reason.

Ukraine's foreign minister warned that an explosion at that plant would be ten times larger than Chernobyl . The Ukranian president called it an act of "nuclear terror."

“I feel like the point at which the dictator's troops are shelling Europe's largest nuclear power plant is the point at which we should probably stop debating whether he is simply a rational actor mounting a calculated, completely understandable response to NATO expansion," observed Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle .

Juxtaposed to that reality, the "tyranny" the "Freedom Convoy" is organized against looks like it's not really tyranny at all.

Ill-advised policy, sure.

But tyranny?

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Get a grip.

Our country would be better off if these performative Karens on the left and the right spent less time seeking the spotlight and more time doing something constructive.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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