The Freedom Convoy arrived in Hagerstown, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C., on Saturday and paused. More than a thousand cars, pick-up trucks, and big rigs had traveled from all over the country, with more joining them by the hour.
But with the pandemic emergency winding down and the Supreme Court declaring the vaccine mandates illegal, it’s become a question of just what the protesters want.
“We don’t want to shut D.C. down,” Brian Brase told the Washington Post. “We’re not anti-vaxxers. We’re not. We just want freedom, freedom. We want to choose. We just want the choice. So tomorrow is basically a show of just how big we are and how serious we are.” He described the situation as “very fluid.”
The plan is for the convoy to circle the D.C. Beltway twice on Sunday morning and then escalate the pattern on successive data. It won’t shut the city down. But it will certainly gum up the works.
The convoy’s motives are muddy. People gathered in the Western Maryland city described frustrations with workplace vaccine mandates and other measures meant to limit the spread of the coronavirus — even though those rules have now been lifted in many places. At the speedway, the crowdschanted anti-President Biden slogans and displayed support for former president Donald Trump. Extremism analysts point to a broader set of right-wing causes that have motivated participants.
I had no idea there were “experts” on analyzing “extremism.” How do you become an “expert” in “extremism”? Do you have to be an extremist to be an expert? Maybe there’s a club I can join or something.
You can be sure if there’s such a thing as an “extremism analyst,” the Washington Post would find one. At least, an extremism analyst who specializes in right-wing extremism.
Trucks and cars filed into the speedway complex Saturday morning, passing under an American flag waving from a cable between two 30-foot booms attached to semi tow-trucks. Within, truckers and their supporters were waking up after the Friday night rally. Most in the crowd were White men, but there were also some young children and dogs.
Well, that settles it. A crowd of white men with women and children? Gotta be extremists, right? No blacks, no Hispanics — at least none that were reported. And looking at social media photos, there isn’t an LGBTQ flag to be seen anywhere!
Yep. Gotta be extremists.
So I’m going to volunteer my services to WaPo as a left-wing “extremism analyst.” I’ll start in Congress and work my way up to Berkeley.
On Friday night, the mood of the group was celebratory and proud. Truckers blared the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and ate spaghetti, burgers and chicken tacos donated by supporters. Leaders stood on the makeshift stage of a flatbed truck and lambasted the federal government for imposing vaccine and mask mandates, policies they believe violated their fundamental rights as Americans.
Maybe it’s enough that the convoy celebrates freedom. There’s definitely a need for it these days. And it’s useful to remind Congress and the government that there is strong opposition to mandates of any kind.