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The Year in Suck #4: 10-4get about it
The "People's Convoy": Cancelculture crybabies meet the Tea Party in hell
[This final week of 2022 we’re ringing out the old in five installments. Yesterday we had #5: Rightwingers and prestige media cheering for a “red wave” that never arrived.]
A lot of what plagued us in 2022 wasn’t new. I’ve been complaining about cancelculture crybabies, for example, for years now, and in 2022 they were still at it and even worse. Not only did CanCult Queen Bari Weiss keep grinding her grift at the fictitious University of Austin, for example — she also got hired by Elon Musk to hunt down smart-mouths at Twitter, thus becoming the purest avatar of the essential censoriousness of these self-styled anti-censors.
And the New York Times kept bringing in rightwingers for forums like the April 12 “These 8 Conservative Men Are Making No Apologies,” wherein we learned that while wingnut dudes wouldn’t apologize they absolutely would bitch, bitch, bitch about how the liberals were persecuting them by refusing to kiss their asses because they were straight and/or white.
But I saw one interesting new cancelculture-related phenomenon: The “People’s Convoy” of angry truck-driving wingnuts who rampaged around Washington, D.C. last spring. Like the unapologetic bros at the Times, they were mad as hell and were not gonna take it anymore — but because they tried their routine among normal people, rather than among prestige media pushovers, they failed to get the reaction they were hoping for.
In a way the People’s Convoy was a hybrid of two strains of rightwing bullshit: CanCult, and the Tea Party. You may remember those TP guys dressed up like extras from Old Sturbridge Village and held rallies in the early days of the Obama administration to call the President Hitler and demand tax breaks for the rich; their primary purpose was to provide an astroturf simulation of widespread upheaval against the black guy in order to nudge the 2010 midterms for the Republicans, at which task they were pretty successful. The doublets and hose then got tossed into closets across Wingnut World as the brethren turned to other grifts.
But when a Canadian Convoy occupied Ottawa to bitch about COVID regulations last winter, it lit up conservatives elsewhere and some local apparatchiks decided to give it a stateside production with appropriate costuming. This time it was gimme caps, Harley t-shirts and motorman’s helpers rather than knee-breeches and tricorns, but it was still conservative cosplay — as I wrote at the time, when conservative are thrust into the political wilderness they thirst for butch accoutrements:
Conservatives hate your basic run-of-the-mill American protestors not only because of their politics, but also and maybe even mostly because of what they look like — in their imaginations, like dirty hippies from the Dragnet era, or like the sissy “Pajama Boy” from an old Obama ad, or, like, black…
But give ‘em rebels who are costumed and coiffed like manly men they learned to respect when they were little kids, and they go apeshit. Like the Tea Party — overwhelmingly white, with many members cosplaying Revolutionary War heroes and Founding Fathers straight out of their childhood history books — or the Bundy Family of moochers off government land and insurrectionists, who were done up like Marlboro Men. We can go all the way back to the Hard Hat Riot in New York in 1970. It’s like the Village People avant le lettre!
At first it looked like they’d get some traction with it. They certainly had a complaisant press gushing about how these burly Knights of the Road were streaming by the thousands across America to come tell sissy Washington a thing or two, e.g., “the convoy had hundreds of trucks and went on for probably seven miles,” bullshat WSFB in Hartford. It hardly mattered that there was no footage supporting this alleged show of strength — only generic Lookit All Them Trucks pics and ALL CAPS CAPTIONS — nor that their biggest blowhards (like self-appointed Head Trucker in Charge Bob Bolus, who bragged the convoy would squeeze DC “like a boa constrictor”) turned out to be frauds and fools.
This is from one of my dispatches from when the troops hit town:
I mean, look at the headline from the rightwing Epoch Times on Sunday, the day after the convoy was supposed to put the hammer down: “Truck-Led Convoy to Circle Capital Beltway Twice in Protest Against COVID-19 Emergency Powers.” That’s like “this is my interpretive dance against the war.”
And the leaders’ announcement that, if the Deep State did not give in to their demands (which, from what I hear, include ending such weak mask and vaccine mandates as the feds have instituted, as well as ending the COVID state of emergency and maybe putting “Home Improvement” back on the air), then in retaliation they would increase the number of laps they did around the Beltway, is pure Dr. Evil One-MILLION-Dollars stuff.
The convoy made base camp at a racetrack in Hagerstown, Maryland and acted like little kids trying to gin up their courage — as with the big muckety who told his troops he “went down into DC proper to take a look at what it looked like. I’ll tell you, it’s creepy… we’re gonna do it through diplomacy first. And then we’ll take the next step if things don’t work.”
The convoy supporters also laid on the cancelculture stuff — it was one of their incoherent list of complaints, along with “big tech censorship” and “forced COVID vaccinations.” “We have values-aligned vendors that are non-cancel culture participants,” declared one of the leaders. “Facebook bans American truckers convoy group from platform,” wailed wingnut website The Post Millennial on behalf of one Jeremy Johnson, who had previously been booted from TikTok for spreading anti-vaccination propaganda. (Insisting on your right to appear on a website owned by someone who doesn’t want you is, as everyone knows, what cancelculture crybabies are all about.)
Eventually small squadrons of trucks — some few big rigs, but mostly cabs, pickups, vans, and SUVs — came into DC to drive around in circles and honk their horns and occasionally block traffic. Their leaders claimed DC was scared of them, but citizens of the capital routinely flipped them off and clowned on them (“Antifa threw soda at me”). They appealed for donations and swore they’d take down the Deep State any day.
But an interesting thing happened; perhaps made nervous by all the mockery, the heretofore credulous prestige press stopped sucking up to these dumbasses and began treating them like the buffoons they were. The racetrack camp was visited by a wave of illnesses including (inevitably) COVID, the head of the convoy fucked off home, and the remnants scattered to the four winds. I wrote then:
I feel a little bad for the weaker lost souls who got caught up in this Lord Humungus fantasy, and infinite contempt for everyone else involved. But I’m glad that for once the Macho Cosplay stunt backfired, and hope that everyone takes the wider lesson, which is that their whole rightwing working-man pose is a fraud meant to mask their predations and greed, and the next time they come strutting onstage growling “Ah’m a ruff tuff pipefitter/stock car driver/tobacco auctioneer/whatever an’ ah don’t lahk socialized medicine nohow,” feel free to laugh that shit off. 10-4!
I don’t rightly know whether or not we’ll ever finally consign conservatives to the dustbin of history and allow our nation to walk in the sun, but the Freedom Convoy gave me some extra hope.
For one thing, the failure of the fake trucker cosplay was rather like the collapse of the Trump grift — like the convoy leaders, Trump acted like a ruff tuff action figure but was really a jacked-up soft-handed sissy fake, and it appeared people were catching on to it.
And the cancelculture element that had worked so well in so many ways for conservatives came a-cropper too. No one bought the idea that these were poor, put-upon workers who had been denied a public forum and merely asked to be heard by a cruelly unresponsive establishment. Indeed, a reasonable person might assume, if they were put-upon, it was the rightwing grifters who’d roped them into this stunt that were doing the putting. After a few public tantrums it became clear even to casual observers that the convoy had been heard, but what had been heard was gibberish, and the normies they had expected to join them at the barricades turned away.
Can common sense and the smell test save us from conservatism? Dare to dream!
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