Tucker Carlson Fears Canada's COVID Gulags May Come To America!
Tucker Carlson is upset. Yes, we know, stop the presses. On his Wednesday night show, the host of Fox News's "Scaring Old White People Hour" got very indignant indeed about a terrifying threat to basic human rights and freedoms, right on America's doorstep. Only this time it's our northern doorstep for a change. How's this for a terrifying scenario?
What if your next-door neighbor suddenly went dangerously insane and started holding people hostage in his house? Would you consider that threatening? Would you even notice? These aren't theoretical questions. Something very much like that just happened in our neighborhood.
Canada — the land mass directly to our north and our single largest trading partner, with whom we share the longest international border in the world — took a dramatic move toward legitimately dangerous authoritarianism. Yes, Canada.
Good heavens! Canada's taking hostages and doing authoritarianism? Why yes indeed, says Carlson, citing a March 29 Twitter thread by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. According to Carlson, Canada is now "locking people up" in "internment camps," which is clearly the only possible way to describe what's happening, unless you prefer the term "requiring travelers to quarantine for 14 days," some or all of it in a "hotel," depending on the results of a COVID-19 test. Marriott, Manzanar; both start with M and are internment camps.
Here's how it works in the real world: Before even being allowed into the country, travelers of any nationality have to demonstrate that they have a plan for their 14-day quarantine. Canadians flying home (travel for nonessential foreigners is pretty much on hold) have to be tested at the airport when they land in Canada, and then wait three days in an approved hotel for the results. Yes, at their own expense; you shouldn't be traveling now anyway. If the test is negative, they can then wait out the rest of the quarantine at home. If they test positive, they have to do the rest of the quarantine period in a government quarantine facility (that's a hotel again) to make sure they aren't out there spreading infection.
Carlson sure tried to make it all seem terrifying, eh? He made sure to call Trudeau "Mussolini" and to include photos of the PM wearing a weird funny foreigner "costume," too (from a trip Trudeau made to India).
Here's the Trudeau tweet that really set Carlson off:
If your results come back negative for COVID-19, you’ll be able to head home and finish your mandatory quarantine t… https://t.co/Q1GWc2QMGC— Justin Trudeau (@Justin Trudeau)1617056892.0
See? Totally fascist, at least if you don't know anything about fascism, and you think big hotel chains like Hilton, Radisson, Days Inn, or Sheraton are literally gulags — travel writers' hyperbole notwithstanding.
"Designated government facilities." When this happens in other countries, and it does, we call those internment camps. Because this is Canada we're talking about, a place we assume is passive and polite and Anglo to the point of parody, no one thinks to use that term. In fact, no one seems to think about it at all.
Trudeau's internment policy has been in been place since last month, and as far as we can tell, no major U.S. news network has mentioned it. Neither has our State Department, which ordinarily seems to exist to make unhappy noises about human rights violations around the world. But not a word about Canada. Preconceptions may play a role in this. We assume that interning people is what Russia does. Boring people is what Canada does. But not anymore.
Oh, so now Carlson finds something unkind to say about Russia. But he sure is brave, being the only person on TV to notice all the oppression like that.
Carlson then went on to say that if you fail the COVID test, "they'll lock you up without trial. Go ahead and try to disobey." And as Vice News points out, he flat-out lies about the penalty for refusing to take the tests: He claims that "anyone who attempts to avoid detention in a government internment facility could face a million-dollar fine and three years in prison."
In reality, though, the fine for breaking quarantine rules at a hotel is $3,000 per violation — in pretend Canadian money, at that. The super-heavy fines Carlson mentioned, however, would only be a risk if someone breaks quarantine and "causes the death of or serious bodily harm to another person," which is rather different from simply refusing to stay in your hotel room.
And as Vice notes, virtually all of Carlson's rant — twelve insufferable minutes of it — is recycled from rightwing Canadian gripes about the horrors of the quarantine hotels, where sometimes the room service meals have arrived cold. Carlson doesn't even seem to believe they're really hotels at all — that's just a polite euphemism for "internment cells" where "there are shortages of food and water. You could be sexually assaulted."
Again, Vice acknowledges that
One concerning sexual assault case did take place at a Montreal quarantine hotel. Health Canada said it's aware of the incident and is investigating. In the meantime, "government of Canada employees and security personnel are stationed at designated quarantine facilities to help provide a safe and secure environment," the official site says.
Still, it's good to see that Tucker Carlson has, for once, decided not to blame the rape victim this time.
Now, for all Carlson's bloviating, Canadians have complained about the inconvenience and expense of the quarantine requirements, but they don't seem quite ready to call for Trudeau to be hauled off to the Hague. And it's hardly a uniquely Canadian
torture camp requirement that travelers cool their heels in a hotel for public health, either: Government-mandated quarantines of arriving travelers have been used in New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, the UK, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, too.
OMG, one of those is Communist China! Soon they all will! And maybe America's next!
That, or maybe Carlson will find something else to proclaim the greatest threat ever to freedom. He tends to find those fairly regularly.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.