ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

The Power of Protests

This weekend was marked by the global resistance movement towards lockdowns, vaccination, masks, COVID passports, and everything else related to COVID measures. Millions were marching through major world cities from Australia to Canada.

London Protest — 18/09/2021 (Photo: Karlo Tasler)

When it comes to COVID restrictions, England is one of the most open countries in the world. Since July, when lockdown officially ended, people have walked freely, hung out with friends at home and in pubs. People nowadays even go to clubs to dance, party, kiss strangers. Masks are not obligatory anywhere, not in shops, theatres, museums, festivals, or football matches. Yeah, England is so open. There are some 35 000 reported new cases daily, though, but since the end of lockdown, that is not as important anymore. More than 48 million people have had a first vaccine dose, making 89% of over 16 years of age. That is according to the official numbers provided by the state.

So, you see, if you want to live freely as British people live, you need to trust science. But not any science, of course! You need to trust British science. Because if you trust, for example, Israeli science, then having a large number of cases is a serious problem, and you might end up in lockdown despite one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. Also, don’t trust Swedish science, they might live pretty free, but you know… They are corrupted. By no means don’t trust Australian science. Trusting Australian science takes a lot of sacrificing. Only Australians can trust Australian science. And, of course, don’t trust Croatian science because… Actually, you can trust Croatian science! In comparison to the Western world, Croatians have never really lost freedoms despite a very low vaccination rate. That science sounds cool. So, yeah, you can trust Croatian science, but if you really trust science, then trust British science. It is the best science in the world, and it got Brits from the state of the worst lockdown in the world to the state of the freest country.

London, First day of Freedom — 19/07/2021 (Photo: Karlo Tasler)

But let’s go for a moment back in July of this year in the time when that amazing transition happened, when British science transformed from the science of fear and lockdown to the science we have now, full of empathy for people’s freedom. The UK government had set a date — June 21 was when the third national lockdown would have ended officially. However, as the day was approaching, the government decided to extend lockdown for another month due to, as it was stated, the rise of COVID cases. On June 21, there were 15,956 cases and 16 COVID-related deaths.

But then, on June 26 everything changed. People of London said they were not having it and gathered on the most famous anti-lockdown protest so far. Hundreds of thousands of people marched for freedom of movement, speech, and choice. There are no official numbers, but it might have been among the biggest protests in the history of London. (As I wrote earlier, whenever there are elements of dictatorship present, there are also elements of anarchism present. Those are two parallel processes.)

However, the very next day, Matt Hancock resigned as the country’s health secretary. Sajid Javid was appointed instead, and the complete COVID narrative changed entirely. The first thing when Javid joined the government, he said that opening up the country will make us healthier and that we are going to have to learn to live with COVID and find ways to cope with it — just as we already do with flu.
Lockdown finally ended on July 19. There were 46,880 new cases on that day which is 30,924 cases more than it was on June 21 when the lockdown was initially set to end. However, that was not a problem anymore, and the new science was born. The beautiful new British science was born. The science that believes in the freedom of individuals way more than the old British science.

The Protest — 26/06/2021 (Photo: Karlo Tasler)

I have been among a few journalists who have been covering the anti-lockdown protests. The first one I covered for a Croatian media outlet dnevnik.hr was in March while the country was still in the hard lockdown. After another protest, I wrote a piece on psychological traits shared between extreme lockdowners and extreme anti-vaxxers. The next protest made me think about anarchism, the phenomenon which I explained as a counterbalance to the society which carries some dictatorship elements. And then, the last article from the protest was published on Telesport. hr during the Euro 2020 (2021). That was the biggest one which I mentioned earlier. Also, I have had quite a few Instagram stories with the content from protests. All those protests have in common that some changes in the political narrative in terms of COVID happened in the days that followed.

This Saturday, a new protest took place in London and many other UK cities. The main concern of the protests was the government’s announcement that vaccine rollout for children from 12 to 15 years old would start this week. The discussion about vaccinating children had been very lively anyways, but fuel to fire was added when the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), an independent expert advisory committee that advises United Kingdom health departments on immunization, recently said the margin of the benefit of jabbing 12 to 15-year-olds was “considered too small. It was later supplemented by the major study, which said teenage boys are six times more likely to suffer from heart problems from the vaccine than being hospitalized from Covid-19. Researchers found that the risk of heart complications for boys aged 12 to 15 following the vaccine was 162.2 per million. Meanwhile, the risk of a healthy boy needing hospital treatment owing to COVID in the next 120 days is 26.7 per million. This means the risk they face from heart complications is 6.1 times higher than that of hospitalization.

“Hands of our Children - 18/09/2021” (Photo: Karlo Tasler)

It is going to be interesting to see changes in the political narrative about childhood vaccination. Since the media coverage of the protest was minimal as usual, once the government changes the narrative, people might think, “Oh, taken everything into account, the government’s decision to scrap this idea makes sense.” The decision will seem reasonable. But the truth is the change would have never happened if there weren’t tens of thousands of people asking for the change. The truth is that if there had not been protesters in the first place, we would probably still have some kind of lockdown, we would need COVID passports to enter pubs, we would still be wearing masks, and so on. If protests did have proper media coverage, it would be very easy to see how they influence the government’s decisions.

With protests held all over the globe, from Australia, Taiwan, Iran, across South Africa, Guyana, Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia, Germany, UK, all the way to Brazil, USA, and Canada, this weekend was marked as the most significant resistance action so far. I ask you to pay close attention to the news this week to see how the changes are taking place from country to country.

So, yeah, trust science. But not any science! Trust British science. It is the best science in the world. Especially after the massive protest.

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Karlo Tasler

Karlo Tasler

Explaining the complexity of life and its various perspectives through the beautiful game of football. Or rather the tragic game of football, so to speak.