Some conservatives have begun to view the so-called “Freedom Convoy,” which traveled across Canada in protest of COVID-19 restrictions, as an elaborate set-up aimed at damaging their movement.
The protest was sparked by truckers, who are now parked outside of the Parliament building in Ottawa, opposed to a recent mandate requiring those entering Canada to either be vaccinated or tested.
The convoy has been widely applauded by conservatives across the globe who view it as a righteous movement against government overreach. Critics say the protest is counterproductive and only serves to lengthen the pandemic.
But given the current state of conservative politics, which has arguably been consumed by outlandish conspiratorial thinking, even the Freedom Convoy is now being viewed suspiciously.
A growing number of conspiracy theorists now appear to believe that their protest may be a “false flag.” Numerous rumors have begun to spread among the far-right that allege everything from “antifa” infiltration to government involvement.
In one example on TikTok, a user claimed earlier this week that an anonymous “whistleblower” on the trolling messageboard 4chan had revealed that police in Ottawa were preparing to stage a fake truck crash involving a horse. The purpose, the alleged whistleblower said, was to turn the public against the convoy.
Unsurprisingly, the unfounded conspiracy theory never came to pass. And although anonymous comments online are hardly credible, that didn’t stop the video from spreading feverishly across social media.
A conspiratorial blog out of Sweden even suggested that the convoy’s logo secretly contained the numbers “666,” a reference to the Mark of the Beast in the Christian Bible.
Not only that, the blog alleged that the protest was a secret tool of the global elite designed to crush small businesses by further weakening the supply chain.
“At a first glance, it might look as a good thing. Yeah, they’re doing a strike against vaccine mandates and other fascist government crap,” the blog states. “Sure, but never forget that they always control both sides. That is called Controlled Opposition. No movement will be allowed unless they control it. It is that simple.”
The blog went on to claim that “Jesuit’s foot soldiers” and the “Freemasons” were behind the insidious plot.
Ezra Levant, a publisher with the popular conspiratorial Canadian site Rebel News that boasts more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, likewise claimed that agent provocateurs would create “false flag incidents” among the convoy.
At least one member of the convoy was pictured waving a Nazi flag in an apparent attempt to portray the Canadian government as tyrannical. When the stunt backfired, however, conspiracy theorists were quick to claim that the incident was a false flag as well.
Despite the flag being entirely unsurprising given conservatives endless comparisons of COVID restrictions to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, the moment stirred even more paranoia into the minds’ of protesters.
The entire situation bears an eerie resemblance to far-right talking points regarding the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. What was initially praised as a virtuous protest by conservatives quickly devolved into allegations of a false flag.
Conservatives similarly accused prominent far-right figures such as Jacob Chansley, known best as the “QAnon Shaman,” of being secret antifa infiltrators. Prominent members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were also accused of being secret government agents.
The paranoia has become so palpable that the election victory of Glenn Youngkin in Virginia last November was viewed as a psy-op. After spending weeks claiming that the governor’s race would be “stolen,” conservatives quickly claimed after Youngkin’s surprise victory that Democrats had let them win in order to pacify the voter fraud movement.
With no end in sight to conservatives’ downward spiral into increasingly paranoid territory, every victory and positive moment in far-right politics will be viewed as a devious plot against themselves.
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*First Published: Feb 3, 2022, 12:53 pm CST
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.