Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Beware the dangers of blind loyalty

Loyalty can be a beautiful thing in human relationships and business partnerships.

However, loyalty can also have disastrous consequences.

When your friend asks you to support them in illegal or immoral activity that would cause harm to another person or group, it is generally not a good idea to support them.

The same principles apply in politics.

If any person or group at any level of government is planning to implement – or has enacted – a policy that I believe will do more harm than good, I will not support them. And I will speak out against it.

I would never vote for a person or political party who I believe is working against the best interests of the people whom they are supposed to be serving,

But I constantly see otherwise intelligent, moral people being loyal to political parties regardless of the volume and severity of their indiscretions.

For example, some of my associates are still trying to find reasons to support Canada’s ruling Liberal government, despite Trudeau & Co.’s divisive rhetoric (Clip resurfaces of Trudeau calling unvaccinated “extremists, misogynists, racists”) … and their outrageous overreach in the use of the Emergencies Act (The Canadian prime minister’s emergency act) and shutting down bank accounts of those who donated to the truckers during a protest of nonsensical COVID mandates … and their firing of two of Canada’s top female politicians for standing up against corruption in the SNC Lavalin scandal (The SNC-Lavalin scandal: Here’s what’s true and what’s false)… and their awarding of a $43.5-million contract to the WE charity that was paying Trudeau family members big bucks for appearances (WE charity scandal – A simple guide to new crisis for Trudeau) … and their tolerance of election meddling from China (Claims of Chinese Election Meddling Put Trudeau on Defensive) … and their spending like drunken sailors, which drove up interest rates and helped push inflation to levels that are crushing the middle and lower income classes (Canada’s profligate spending forced interest rates higher, Scotiabank says). I could go on.

I am in no way suggesting that people should stop identifying as politically “Liberal”, but there is something to the idea of voting for integrity, rather than for the party for which one habitually votes.

“Always make the politicians earn your vote,” I like to say to my children.

Blind loyalty and patriotism are potent negative forces when they support bad actors – (The useful idiot – perhaps the most dangerous creature on earth).

History is littered with wars fought for reasons unrelated to justice and preservation of freedom. The United States, for example, has engaged in numerous conflicts that are/were more about business and/or political influence than for the common good.

Now, there are many instances in which U.S. military might was instrumental in protecting world order. French citizens who were alive during the last stages of the Second World War would back me up on that.

Our big brother to the south is arguably the biggest reason why Russian is not my first language.

However, since WW2, U.S. foreign policy has seen a lot of people killed in wars waged for the wrong reasons. A lot of soldiers have died, too. For the record, I consider soldiers to be some of our best people, and I do not consider their deaths less significant than those of civilians.

In cases of unjust military conflict, patriotism is counterproductive. The elected government officials often take for granted unwavering support, and are more likely to act in ways that undermine the very people who voted them in.

On the other hand, if we hold politicians accountable, scrutinize their policies and track record, and demand integrity, they are less likely to engage in destructive (for the populace) behaviour.

I was a big fan of the Canadian Liberal government when, in March 2003, then-Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced that Canada would not be joining the U.S.-led coalition going to war in Iraq.

That could not have been an easy decision to make, considering the U.S. is Canada’s largest trading partner and conjoined-but-larger twin in so many respects.

The only time I have been kicked out of a bar came as I was supporting Canada’s decision to take a pass on Iraq invasion 2.0.

On the evening of April 5, 2010, I was sitting at the lounge bar of Toronto’s Grand Hotel, a beautifully appointed former RCMP headquarters frequented by budget-conscious travellers like me. Two gentlemen to my right and I kibitzed with bartender Julia as we watched a 25-year-old LeBron James lead his Cleveland Cavaliers past my Toronto Raptors.

Suddenly, Julia became more interested in the CNN newsfeed on the screen to our left. A special report included a leaked video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter conducting an attack that killed two Reuters journalists and nine other civilians, while seriously injuring two children.

“What have they done now?” Julia said, holding her hand over her mouth as she viewed a WikiLeaks video that would later be dubbed “Collateral Murder”.

The man immediately to my right objected: “What do you mean by that? Why would you say such a thing?!”

“What is the U.S. military even doing there?” she replied, likely not considering the possibility that two-thirds of her customers at the wood might be patriots from south of the border.

Both men became animated.

“What are we doing there?! We are liberating the Iraqi people,” roared the second man.

“We are saving them from an evil tyrant!” exclaimed Patriot #1.

I have never been very good at minding my own business in such instances.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, guys,” I said. “First off, you may not have noticed, but that video shows the U.S. military killing a bunch of innocent civilians. Now, it was probably an accident, but it is a horrible incident.

“Second, do you really believe that the Iraq invasion is about liberating oppressed Iraqis?”

The temperature in the room and my counterparts’ voice levels rose sharply.

“Accidents happen in wars,” shot back Patriot #2. “And we had to stop Saddam Hussein from using his weapons of mass destruction.”

(This was long before I – just before launching BIG Media Ltd. – made a pledge to myself to always be calm and respectful in debates.)

“Weapons of mass destruction?! That whole narrative is absurd,” I countered. “The UN Security Council had Saddam Hussein under its thumb as they systematically investigated potential sites of those ‘weapons of mass destruction.’

“Then the U.S., with surprising support from the Brits, went rogue.”

Things deteriorated from there, and all three of us were kicked out of the lounge.

I have always appreciated the way U.S. citizens spontaneously erupt in applause in airports when they see military members in uniform. Men and women who are willing to lay their lives on the line to defend our countries and preserve order deserve our support.

However, we must stand up against politicians and other officials who wish to guide us into illegitimate conflict or put forward policies that are detrimental to the populace.

And we should vote for integrity, regardless of which party we supported in the last election.

 

Rob Driscoll
Rob Driscoll
Rob Driscoll is co-founder and president of BIG Media Ltd. He is a writer and entrepreneur who is deeply committed to elevating the level of coverage of our society's most pressing matters as well as the level of respect in public discourse.
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