I'm not feeling so good today, and it's not just the sinus cold. I spent a lot of time on Twitter over the weekend following eyewitness feeds of what was going on in Toronto at the G20/G8 protests. First I was horrified at the disgusting things some of the extreme protesters were doing. But then, as Saturday night went on and Sunday wore away, it was the way the police were treating peaceful protesters and random bystanders that was most disturbing.
We know, every time there's a G20/G8 meeting that there are going to be rioting/vandalizing protesters. I feel so much sadness for the cities that are forced to host these meetings, because the lunatics show up just to destroy things and get an adrenaline rush out of yelling at people.
But then, even once they were shut down, the police just lost perspective, or maybe the people telling the police what to do lost perspective, and started detaining and arresting people just for being in their own neighborhoods.
We've seen it before, I know. But what really scares me most of all about the human rights abuses in Toronto this past weekend is that it's Canada.
At one point, the awesome Ann Douglas (author of the "The Mother of All" series) who tweets at @anndouglas tweeted "Remember how smug we all felt when Bush was in power in the US - how we said that could never happen in Canada? Yeah." and I realized that was exactly why it was freaking me out so much.
To me, it felt like our whole country was falling apart when George W Bush was President. (I know it feels that way for other Americans now that Barack Obama is President.) And especially having lived in NYC during 9/11, it just feels like we're always a short jump away from chaos. And like we really never know what's going to happen, because we're not an essentially civilized people. We're too polarized and angry and extreme.
But Canada seemed different. The Canadians I know are witty and intelligent and driven and self-deprecating and productive. And the whole country just seems more measured and civilized than the US is. Less prone to go off half-cocked about something that should really be people's private business, or start fights with other countries, or just stick their noses where they don't belong in general.
Canada was also this safe place we could go if the shit really hit the fan here in the US, because it was safe and reasonable there.
So on Saturday and yesterday when downtown Toronto was anything BUT safe and reasonable, for random Canadian citizens and visitors who were doing things like walking their dogs or meeting friends to go out and have a drink, everything fell apart. For the people who were detained and arrested and stripped of their rights, for sure, but also for everyone else, in Canada and in the US and in other countries.
Because if even Canada can descend into Lord of the Flies in a hot second, what hope is there for any of us?