I don’t crow much about being a veteran. I’m proud of my 28 years of service, but I’m even more proud to have worked alongside many people who were called on to make greater sacrifices than I ever was.
But as a retired service member, as a comrade of those I respect as true veterans, and as one of many Canadians whose ancestors fought in the two world wars, I am angered and saddened by the disrespect our veterans are being shown by the organizers of protests and blockades in our country.
Thanks in large part to our veterans, Canada is a free country. You will find vets who support and even belong to all of our political parties. There are vets participating in the (so-called) truckers’ (so-called) freedom convoy; there are vets who are against it.
I don’t judge. It’s fair and legitimate to speak up against policies you disagree with. When you demonstrate for something you believe in, you are participating in democracy. You are to be commended.
Veterans are no exception.
But this convoy is exceptional for a number of reasons. First of all, while the relatively minor and wholly redundant vaccine mandate for cross-border truck operators is the pretext for the action, its repeal is not the key demand of the organizers.
The demands include complete repeal of mask and vaccination mandates, which have wide public support and are not the purview of the federal government in the first place.
More tellingly, organizers have published a manifesto calling for elected Members of Parliament to resign, and for the protest organizers themselves to be appointed as the new government. If they are serious, they are utterly delusional.
One of them has said it will take bullets to solve Canada’s problems, so you can add subversive, seditious, and traitorous to that list.
Meanwhile the protest has become a full-on occupation, taking away daily freedoms from the people of Ottawa for more than a week now.
Official communications from organizers have invoked veterans as worthy of respect. They claimed their ceasefire on horn-blaring, scheduled for Sunday morning, was out of respect for “the Lord’s day” and for veterans. (The ceasefire didn’t hold—protesters kept blaring their truck horns Sunday morning and afternoon. So much for respect.)
There have been other, sickening incidents: protesters urinating and defecating in public, urinating on the National War Memorial, and dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Protesters have been harassing, threatening and assaulting people, damaging property, and reportedly obstructing and stoning an ambulance crew.
Bad apples? Maybe. But as the saying goes, “one bad apple spoils the barrel.” The rot spreads.
This may be why organizers have asked protesters not to be so brazen with their Nazi flags. Swastikas are bad PR for their cause—whatever the hell their cause is.
Yes, swastikas. Real Nazi flags. And this is where this veteran’s blood boils.
Again, protesting against the government doesn’t make you a radical or a subversive. Opposing vaccine policies doesn’t make you a fascist.
Many of us have looked to the Second World War for historical comparisons to the kind of national effort we need to get through the Covid pandemic. The comparisons fall short, because the sacrifices we are being asked to make do not come close to what Canadians did during the war.
But if we are going to make that comparison, we need to understand the “enemy” is the virus. Our healthcare workers are the foot soldiers, and all Canadians have a part to play.
Justin Trudeau is no Winston Churchill, to be sure. Meanwhile our provincial governments have positioned themselves somewhere between Neville Chamberlain and Marshal Pétain.
And the aggrieved babies who have the gall to wear yellow Stars of David, because of their own refusal to be vaccinated, are not victims. If your idea of victimhood and oppression is that you have to get your restaurant meals to go, I don’t know how to start educating you.
The anti-vaccine agitators are like the pro-Nazi collaborators. They are helping the real threat—the virus—and stalling our eventual victory.
And here I’ll end my World War II references, except for one last thing: if the Canadian veterans of that war—the heroes of The Greatest Generation that liberated Europe and the Pacific, whose dead friends are commemorated on the war memorials that these punks saw fit to use as toilets—if they had come home to find this kind of behaviour, with Nazi flags in full view, there would be Hell to pay.
Veterans can think and speak for themselves, whether you or I agree with them or not. For others to use vets’ service and their valour to lend credibility to their own cause is disrespectful. To do so while desecrating monuments and flying Nazi flags is a deep, deep insult.
I can’t describe the shame.