We demand the freedom to infect others! The anti-vaccination demonstrations are dour, sour and disingenuous.
People are dying in the Covid pandemic. In New South Wales for example, some 30 deaths occur daily. Surely, everyone expects governments to take some actions.
Generally, governments have chosen to follow medical advice although the implementation has not always been efficient. The protesters who descended on Canberra cannot be naive enough to believe that responsible decision-makers should accept their advice rather than that of medical professionals.
In the lead-up to 2016 US presidential election, many commentators thought that Republican Donald Trump would win because voters wanted to express frustration with government in general. Democrat Hillary Clinton was seen as part of the political establishment. It is unclear whether the same commentators think that the election dealt with the frustration but it is certain that Trumpism created huge problems for US democracy.
Democracy requires a high degree of self-discipline and willingness to act moderately and compromise. Trumpism promotes undisciplined
individualism and immoderate behaviour. Under Trumpism, the ignorant think they know best.
Canberra has a highly educated and politically aware population. No wonder locals have been hostile to the ignorance on display in the protests there. First, there is the question of whether people who adhere to some vague conspiracy theories are themselves being manipulated by dark powers seeking to advance their right wing causes.
Second, the protesters are not simply stating that they themselves will not be vaccinated — a position which it is possible to respect.
They are also demanding that no-one else wears a mask or maintains their distance. When educated people are pressured to follow the dictates of the ignorant, they are understandably outraged.
Thirdly, claims of some sort of vague rights or freedoms suggest a respect for the rule of law.
Whether protesters think their rights arise in the constitution or some other form of legislation they undermine their own arguments when they refuse to accept lawful directions.
This contradiction is clear enough in the reaction of Canberra locals to disruption to their community activities. A high-profile example of this was the cancellation of the Lifeline book fair at the EPIC showground. It also seems likely that many community activities such as junior sport have been disrupted as parents fear for the safety of their children.
The men demanding others remove their masks are likely the same ignorant racists who attack women wearing hijabs. These are not people to admire and flock with.
It seems unlikely that anyone, including a protester, land in hospital with a serious illness that they would expect the nursing staff to ignore medical advice and lookout the window to see what protesters think about their treatment. It seems extraordinary that protesters do not see the hypocrisy in their position.
Australian democracy is far from perfect. Protesters could help improve it by demanding an integrity and anti-corruption commission. They could point out the strains being placed on services such as the health system as disparity grows between rich and poor.
There has been no clear articulation of the demands of the protesters, not because those involved are too ignorant to provide a manifesto, but because those behind the demonstrations do not want government to set policies which might address the grievances of those in the protest who are people of goodwill.
The aim of those sponsoring these lawless events will remain unstated. Their aim is to disrupt public life, destroy Australia’s sense of community and undermine the political process. They favour the rule of the mob, intolerance, fear and ignorance. Their solutions are non-solutions and their values non-values.
It is a model which was used extensively by fascists in the 1930s and which has had a resurgence in the US under Trumpism. The model should be rejected by Australians who value democracy and a sense of community.