As the Ukraine war grinds into its fifth week, the American right is taking the Russian attack as an opportunity to restart, push, or bring to conclusion a number of their pet initiatives. It’s all disgusting and outrageous and I’m as outraged as anyone. But instead of just being outraged by the conservative minority’s “harrying” of the rest of America, I want to illustrate the right-wing ambitions that are operating simultaneously in the Trucker’s Convoy, the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in Florida, and the recent attacks on LGBT people for “grooming.”
DON’T FORGET US. Imitating the recently disbanded Canadian truckers convoy, right-wingers in the U.S. tried to organize several convoys with the hope that they would converge on Washington, D.C. for President Biden’s State of the Union speech on March 1. The whole effort flopped, but protesting truckers and other right-wingers did set up camp in Hagerstown, MD, rebranded themselves as the People’s Convoy, and have been circling the district trying to disrupt traffic and drum up support. The original Canadian Trucker’s convoy was about protesting vaccine mandates while also harboring a core of fascists seeking to overturn the Trudeau government. Given that vaccine mandates have been lifted in the U.S., the American convoy no longer has that objective and is now mum about what their goals are.
So what does the People’s Convoy want?
The Convoy reminds me of a remark made after the 2020 election by Fox and Friend’s Ainsley Earhardt that conservative voters being concerned about being “forgotten— “they are confused and heartbroken that their candidate didn’t win and they don’t want to be forgotten.” In fact, people in the multicultural, socially liberal blue cities live as if conservatives don’t exist, have come to the conclusion that rural white conservatives are bigots if not fascists and traitors, and would just as soon forget “Left Behind America.” In many cases, the liberal and lefty types most hostile to rural conservatism are those who grew up in rural areas themselves and left for more liberal environments as soon as they graduated from college. That’s certainly true in my case.
In this light, there’s an element of the People’s Convoy that just wants rural white conservatives to be noticed, appreciated, and in some way respected by the denizens of a blue city like Washington, D.C. Certainly the People’s Convoy has been noticed while they drive around the city, but most of what they’ve gotten from D.C. commuters is middle fingers–lots of them.
Not being treated with any respect, the leaders of the trucker’s convoy are now talking about jamming the 911 lines with reports of people giving them the finger. Being very sensitive, they’re responding to local hostility by engaging in a “little” regional harassment of slowing down rush hour traffic, making noise in Washington streets, and making D.C. law enforcement work overtime.