A global pandemic and months-long lockdown is frustrating at the best of times, but what’s irking me more than anything else at the moment is the disingenuous co-opting of human rights activism that we are seeing from “freedom” protesters right now.

Earlier this week, over a thousand outraged protesters took to the streets of New York City (of all places!) in objection to vaccine mandates, and somehow, “save Australia” became a primary chant at the protest. This might seem confusing given the US has seen far more devastating effects of COVID than we have, but actually, this ‘concern’ has been brewing for quite some time.

You see, we’ve been the subject of scrutiny in the states because conservatives think the Australian government is violating our human rights — not for any of the actual human rights abuses committed by this country, like the unlawful detention of refugees, but because of our lockdowns, vaccines and general COVID responses.

I know it sounds like a joke, but I’m not kidding.

Melbourne’s violent riots in recent weeks made global headlines. The crowd, which was a mix of genuinely concerned tradies worried about their income, anti-vaxxers, COVID-deniers, and right wing extremists, clashed violently with police, and this spurred on the already heated topic of whether Australia should face consequences for its alleged mistreatment of anti-vaxxers.

In September, The Atlantic published an article questioning whether Australia can still call itself a liberal democracy, given our “draconian restrictions” on citizens during lockdown.

Republicans have called for the US to impose economic sanctions against Australia for “human rights abuses” against protesters.

Last week, Florida governor Ron DeSantis proposed that America should break ties with Australia over these same human rights abuses.

“Is Australia freer than China, communist China, right now? I don’t know. The fact that that’s even a question tells you something has gone dramatically off the rails with some of this stuff,” he said, per Crikey.

These are dramatic echoes of what has already been touted right here by right-wing protesters in Australia, who claim that they are being discriminated against over their vaccination status.

The conversation by Karen-esque folk on their entitlement to catch and spread the disease somehow always comes back to inherent human rights — which is already ridiculous, but even moreso when you remember the fact that most of these sudden-activists have never given a fuck about human rights violations before.

How interesting, that anti-vax and freedom protesters want to save Australia over vaccines, but not from climate change, or homophobia, or sexism. If Americans want to save Australia, I’d rather they protest Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s dedication to fossil fuels, our NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet‘s support of criminalising abortion, or even the racist and classist elements of our lockdown implementation.

How funny, that both Americans and people right here on this unceded land, are protesting against Australia’s vaccines but not against Black deaths in custody? Where is the same energy for fighting discrimination when it comes to stopping racist policing, or returning sovereignty to First Nations people?

And for fuck’s sake, what about refugees? Australia has been condemned internationally for its inhumane treatment and detention of asylum seekers, with Scott Morrison literally having a trophy to commemorate his intervention in the arrival of refugees by boats. Which, by the way, is actually legal, because seeking asylum is an international human right.

Tell me, where were the anti-vaxxers, COVID deniers, and other right-wing, Joe Rogan-esque pundits that cry “human rights abuse!” when we were all protesting for Black Lives Matter? For climate action? For abortion?

anti-vaxx protester meme
Basically, this is the energy I’m getting from freedom-protesting anti-vaxxers.

Interesting how many of these new protesters have never given a fuck about rights until they felt their own entitlements were threatened. It’s almost like this has nothing to do with human rights violations after all.

If you only care about human rights and individual freedoms when its your freedoms that are threatened, you’re not fighting for the greater good. You’re fighting for yourself, at the expense of others, and you look like a fucking dickhead.