By Rachel Marsden, columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her website can be found at rachelmarsden.com
The security agency fears citizens opposed to the government’s liberticidal Covid rules might turn to extremism. But it is the Macron government’s own draconian actions that are fomenting radical dissent.
A new law christening the Covid-19 health pass and QR code tracking system in the daily lives of French citizens has cleared hurdles in the Senate, with only the Constitutional Council standing between freedom and a new world in which French citizens are required to present proof of an anti-Covid double-jab, or a nose swab test within the previous 48 hours, to access restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, swimming pools, bars, hospitals, and some shopping centers.
The pass would also become a condition of continued paid employment for those working in these venues, along with non-negotiable mandatory jabs for health care workers.
The law effectively creates a two-tier society that defines citizens by a specific medical act. The precedent is jarring. Until now, a person’s medical history was considered taboo and part of their private life. So it’s hardly surprising that a pro-freedom movement has emerged, spilling into the streets of Paris and other French cities every Saturday for the past two weeks, with no end in sight, to protest the government’s segregation efforts.
There’s a sense among the protesters that the government’s efforts are far more political than sanitary. For example, although the unvaccinated are expected to take a Covid test prior to entering venues controlled by the health pass, the vaccinated aren’t. Yet it has now been established that vaccination doesn’t prevent transmission. So health pass venues could very well become breeding grounds for the untested vaccinated carriers of the virus to infect the unvaccinated Covid-free.
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Nor is the health pass going to stop transmission in crowded public transport, open-space work areas, or private residences, where much of the transmission tends to occur. So case numbers are bound to increase regardless for this relatively non-lethal virus.
And the government already has its scapegoat: the unvaccinated, whom French authorities are already trying to portray as selfish, extremist, marginalized, uneducated cranks.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal labeled the pro-freedom protesters as a “defeatist” minority, contrasted with the “majority,” compliant with government vaccination pressure, that “wants to put the virus behind it and work.”
And now French domestic intelligence services are warning about the radicalization of the pro-freedom movement, akin to the protests of the ‘yellow jackets’, and the role that ‘extremists’ could take in shaping it, all while apparently ignoring the role that the government itself is playing in fostering such extremism. The government is portraying normal people who value their basic freedoms as radicals, all while introducing some of the most widespread, radical, liberticidal measures in history.
The rhetoric creates a standoff between the ‘good’ vaccinated potential transmitters of the virus and the ‘bad’ unvaccinated potential transmitters of the virus, with each focused on blaming the other for their sorry lot in life rather than both blaming the government for playing up and exploiting fear to introduce a whole new electronic tracing system apparently to combat a minimally lethal virus.
Now where have we seen this before? Well, the other warning posters on French buildings alongside those mandating mask-wearing should provide a clue. Hardly anyone even notices those terrorist alert warnings anymore. It just seems so pre-2019. But terrorism, too, gave government carte blanche to impose a series of restrictions on the general population due to this close-to zero risk to public safety. And people were willing to pay the price of freedom for what they figured to be increased protection.
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The government pointed to people in faraway lands as the culprits, rather than their own responsibility in cozying up to Saudi Arabia as it fomented jihadism, or the role of France’s own foreign interventions in inciting people in some foreign countries to violently mobilize against the French state.
And the terrorist attacks that took place on French soil were largely the result of two things. First, intelligence failure on the part of the government. Second, a justice and penal system that has allowed extremism to flourish on French soil, in prisons, and in certain no-go zones.
Failing to take responsibility for its own failures, the government insisted on downloading the problem onto the entire population.
The French were supposed to think that terrorists were responsible for the security state that the government imposed on them. In reality, the French state created it in response to its own failings. And the same is now true with the health pass: the unvaccinated are being framed as the new terrorists, while the government is able to get away with suppressing even more fundamental freedoms.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.