by Lutful Haider Shoroz in Montreal
With great angst the provincial government of Quebec, Canada, has issued the order to impose month-long province-wide 8:30PM to 5:00AM curfew,from 9th of January 2021. The Quebec government was forced to take the harsh measure due to exponential increase in new Covid-19 cases in the last few weeks that is threatening to overwhelm the health care system.
Already all elective surgeries have been postponed indefinitely and shortage of hospital beds is envisaged should drastic actions not be taken. The woefully slow pace of immunization due to logistic inadequacies has also been a contributing factor in the decision-making process.
Those of us who had lived through curfew imposed by various dictators know that curfew meant that the citizens were ordered to remain at home and the security forces were at liberty to shoot at sight those venturing out of home be that be for emergency or vagrancy. But in North America, curfew violation is usually dealt with hefty fine.
Across the border, in Washington D.C. curfew was imposed following attempt by the Trump supporters to usurp the political process of certification of Presidential pollresults. This in deed had been the culmination of anarchy of Donald Trump’s Presidency.
For quite some time, the world witnessed with shock American President’s affliction of infantile disorder-his refusal to accept the result of a legally binding elections, accusing the administrative, judiciary and legislative branches of federal and state governments of collusion to deprive him of victory in the polls.
The 220 years of precedent setting laudable tradition set by John Adams in 1801 by transferring power peacefully to his rival Thomas Jefferson was brazenly trampled by Donald Trump. Assuredly long after from now, academics will debate his legacy. One thing they sure will concur is that Donald Trump with Plastic surgeon’s precision had perfectly bisected the American society into two halves.
To be fair to Trump, the process of polarization began in eighties when Newt Gingritch started his political career by insisting that government does not truly care for the interest of the majority and thatis why government should be allowed to play as less role as possible in people’s life.
The policies of Reagan government helped to foment such belief and media personalities like Rush Limbaugh added fuel to the fire. For decades extreme right-wingfaction of the Republican Party enjoyed free hand to propagate all possible absurd theories to undermine the government and finally during the last decade they become so emboldened that in 2016, Donald Trump secured his nomination with their help.
Donald Trump shrewdly used rhetoric to ensure the support of the extreme right. The problem was that after becoming the President of the US, Donald Trump became a believer of his own lies. To keep his supporters happy he used xenophobia, racism,bigotry as his useful tools.
So those of his ardent supporters, who converged on Capitol Hill, were melange of disparate groups of racists, conspiracy theorists, anarchist, Christian fundamentalists, neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Egged by Trump and abetted by a section of law enforcement authority they stormed the Capitol Hill, citadel of American democracy. Some scaled the scaffolding, some forced through the main entrance with a view to forcing the Senate not to ratify the election result in favor of Biden.
While world watched with horror and dismay, the law makers were corralled into a safe bunker to carry on their constitutional obligation. In the melee, five persons died including a police officer. Six among twelve Republican senators so long backing Trump quickly saw the clear and present danger, changed their stance but six remained defiant and backed Trump’s false claim.
The insurrection was speedily brought under control and curfew was imposed throughout Washington D.C. After riot initial investigation revealed some very disquieting details. Many rioters were ex-members of law-enforcement agencies and ex-military personnel. In fact the only woman killed by gunshot wasan ex-member of the US air force. Posters were pasted all over D.C. warning the imminent return of the militants with arms. The Intelligence agencies responsible for the inauguration ceremony now has the most unenviable task of securing every building, every nook and corner of the Pennsylvania Avenue to ensure the safety of the newly elected President and the Vice-President. What is most vexing is that they will have to scrutinize every security personnel attending on that day?
For the time being Americans may overcome the grievous challenge to their institutions and democracy but the long–run prognosis is indeed grim. A quick poll of the Republican supporters of Trump indicated that 45% of them still believe that theattempted insurrection to be morally and legally correct and Trump had been the true victor.
Against the back drop of a devastating pandemic and a teetering economy, the added bedlam inflamed by weapon-grade malicious rhetoric of Trump and his cohorts will present monstrous challenge to unify the country for the new administration. How they will face the challenge will be very cautiously watched by the world. After all the US prided itself in exporting democracy through the barrel of guns and is prone to lecture nascent and mature democracies about transparency and efficacy of their institutions.
Curfew will hopefully end here in Quebec within stipulated time but if the armed terrorist supporters, the “Proud Boys” of Trump, really keep their promise to be back with arms to the capital, then we may see curfew being imposed sporadically and for indeterminate period in the US. Regrettably it is a terrifying possibly.
Lutful Haider is a former economics post-graduate from the Dhaka University, analyst, and columnist.