Manukau Courier

More than Covid at play for the freedom army

- GORDON CAMPBELL

OPINION: Poor old ‘‘Freedom.’’ It used to be an inspiring word. Nowadays, it has become a catch cry of surly resentment for people who think the vaccine mandates were devised solely to make their own lives more difficult.

Newsflash: vaccine mandates apply to everyone and most of the public support them.

Like the road code and the provisions in the Crimes Act, the mandates have had bad consequenc­es only for people who chose not to abide by them. Their choice, and their consequenc­es. Freedom

But no, the Freedom Convoy parked on the parliament­ary lawn has demanded that everyone else has to live less safely, to satisfy its preference­s.

Itsmembers demand the scrapping of the mandates, even though – arguably – many of them are alive today only because of New Zealand’s strongly proactive response to the pandemic. Covid may not be the only issue here, though.

The Freedom Convoy contains quite a few fellow travellers­who simply don’t like the government, any government, telling them what to do.

Judging by their socialmedi­a commentary, they especially do not like being told what to do by a government led by a relatively young woman.

This strain of misogyny links the Freedom Convoy to groups beyond the wilfully unvaccinat­ed. A similar sense of persecutio­n is rife among other groups demanding liberation from the shackles of state regulation.

As Aussie journalist Bernard Keane recently pointed out, the same calls for ‘‘Freedom!’’ are being expressed by a group of people who tend to be relatively privileged, white and male.

These people have convinced themselves (and some of their peers) that they are the victims of a progressiv­e agenda hellbent on their displaceme­nt.

This perceived upheaval in the natural order is seen to be accruing to the advantage of ‘‘minorities’’ who – as Keane says – actually comprise most of the population, in that they include women, people of colour, LGBTIQ people, and peoplewith disabiliti­es.

There’s a political dimension to this, of course. Every society has ingrained imbalances in wealth and opportunit­y. Yet in New Zealand, those structures have not been created by a cabal of feminists and left-wing academics who have somehow bent society to theirwill. Far from it.

The power held by the relatively few women in high office and by lefty academics is actually vanishingl­y small, but they serve as handy scapegoats. As a consequenc­e, a lot of energy is currently being wasted over the alleged perils of New Zealand’s proposed hate speech legislatio­n and over the revision of its history curriculum. Not to mention the existentia­l fears about teaching kids about the legacies of colonisati­on, and about an imaginary feminist crusade againstmen and all theirworks.

It used to be the Centre-Left that railed against Big Government. Now the Centre-Right seems the natural home for a conspiracy-minded bloc of white blokes. Far from being silenced, many of them appear to have relatively easy access tomedia platforms to complain about their lot.

Supposedly, they are being victimised by a conspiracy between Jacinda Ardern, political correctnes­s and radical feminism. Finding a path to freedom from such a world view will be no easy matter.

 ?? – Gordon Campbell ?? The Freedom Convoy parked on the parliament­ary lawn has demanded that everyone else has to live less safely, to satisfy its preference­s.
– Gordon Campbell The Freedom Convoy parked on the parliament­ary lawn has demanded that everyone else has to live less safely, to satisfy its preference­s.
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