One is too many - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Last week, I was glad to write about the rift between Neil Young and Spotify while both Keith and Denny tackled the ongoing situation in Ottawa. Reflecting on it, there are similarities between the two situations that go beyond their core issue of misinformation regarding the pandemic.
Spotify was never going to side with Young. I don’t think he thought its owners would, not after the company reportedly paid upwards of $100 million for the exclusive rights to Joe Rogan’s podcast, which now serves as a haven for vaccine misinformation and far-right nutters. But Young essentially said he didn’t want his music to be associated with a service that props up someone misleading the masses.
Young’s stance is about being proud to work with his associates. We all should all be proud of what we do every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s not always that simple, of course, and the bills have to be paid, but if you can be proud of your work, there’s satisfaction in that.
I’m proud to tell people that I’m the editor of The Citizen. From its grassroots inception and community-based ownership to the work we do and the stances we take every week, I feel like I’m doing something good and important for this community and that feels purposeful to me. Of course there will always be some who disagree, quite vocally, but their opinions matter not to me. Being proud of your work and your associates is a luxury not everyone is afforded and that’s why it’s so special.
That’s why I can understand where Young is coming from in this whole thing. He’s proud of his work and he doesn’t want it tied to something with which he strongly disagrees.
That brings us to Ottawa. We have all seen the reports of bad actors who have defaced monuments, harassed and intimidated people and flown hateful symbols from history’s darkest hours. Everyone from Conservative Party leadership hopeful Pierre Poilievre to your friend selling ketones on Facebook will tell you that the media has disproportionately focused on the bad actors and not respectful protestors (with the especially-wacky ones insisting that anything bad is the work of government-paid agents provocateur).
I personally disagree with that, as outlets have been flooded with news stories about any aspect of this gathering reporters can get their hands on (including footage of the people who are so oppressed by the government that they played a game of road hockey on a street they’ve closed with their trucks).
This is where the two issues intersect. Being an individual at a demonstration or in a workplace is one thing, but can you be proud of being involved from top to tail? Young wasn’t and that’s why he got out. In Ottawa, some say they’re there for the right reasons and claim that those with Confederate and Nazi flags are inevitable barnacles on the ship; that they shouldn’t be judged alongside them.
It is absolutely fair to judge one protestor against another. Video has shown that those dug in with the anti-Trudeau crowd have no issue ripping signs from counter-protestors; do the same with someone holding a Nazi flag.
Good-intentioned or not, history judges groups and organizations as a whole (unless I missed the thoughtful collection of essays on Nazis with hearts of gold), so if people are uncomfortable with aspects of a movement, it is their responsibility to do the right thing.
Like debates on issues both local and international, seeing who else is on your side is a real window into the reality of your stance. On your side, one Nazi is too many and if you disagree, it’s time for a look in the mirror.