SCOTT DREYER: When “GoFundMe” Becomes “WeRobYou”

Canada has long been a bastion of freedom, supporting democracy overseas and welcoming immigrants seeking a better life. Of the five Allied beaches on D-day during WWII, one beach (code-named Juno) was given to the Canadians to liberate and occupy, while the Americans and Brits took the other four.

In recent decades, however, the malady known as “political correctness” and all it entails seems to have taken an even deeper hold in Canada than it has in the US… but that may be changing.

In January, after some flip-flopping, the Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a Covid vaccine mandate for their truckers, a mandate many found draconian. After all, even though truckers do travel many miles, they spend most of that time alone in their cabs. Moreover, if the rest of us hope to eat or buy anything, someone needs to drive the vehicle to get stuff to the stores.  

Furthermore, Trudeau’s government ordered unvaxxed truckers to take a 14-day quarantine at home after each time they crossed over from the US. Since our two countries are huge trading partners, cross-border shipping is enormous. Some drivers complained, if they had to take 14 days off after each run, they would lose their jobs and could no longer support their families. 

The truckers’ appeals for reason and dialogue seemed to fall on deaf ears, however. Much like medical workers and grocery workers, truckers were hailed as “front-line heroes” in the early months of Covid as those groups struggled to keep the rest of us millions healthy, well-fed, and supplied with the needs of life.

But how fickle human nature is. 

In what some describe as a “Heroes to Zeroes” switcheroo, once the vaccines came out, mandates soon followed, and if some of those “essential workers” chose not to get the vax or boosters, then the earlier cheers turned to vilification.

In a stunning move that most American media have completely ignored, (imagine that), some members of the Canadian trucking community, sensing their backs to the wall and sold-out by their own government, announced a massive campaign dubbed the “Freedom Convoy” to drive to the Canadian capital of Ottawa, in the eastern part of the Country.

Carefully synchronized, truckers began to leave at different areas and times in that vast land and all planned to arrive in Ottawa on Saturday, January 29. Their initial, stated aim? Surround and occupy the capital, paralyze the government, force Parliament to dissolve, and call for new elections to form a new government. (Unlike in the US where we have elections as set times, Canada has a Parliamentary system in which governments can be dissolved and new elections called at various times when needed.)

Despite Canada’s bitter cold, crowds waving Maple Leaf flags and banners lined the highways and overpasses to cheer on the convoy as they approached the capital.

As the fed-up truckers descended on Ottawa, Prime Minister Trudeau dismissed the truckers and their supporters as a “fringe group” and he ironically reported that he had to go into isolation…because he had Covid. This prompted the satire site Babylon Bee to publish, “Trudeau Demands Truckers Get Vaccinated Like He Did So They Don’t Catch Covid Like He Did.”

While this was all coming to a head, some supporters of the truckers began a funding campaign on GoFundMe. In fact, GoFundMe did deliver the first $1 million to the protestors so they could buy fuel, food and other necessities. (Many Americans are surprised to learn that despite being an oil-rich country, Canada charges much more for gas than we pay in the US.)

Meanwhile, within just a few days, the GoFundMe account grew to about US$8 million ($10 million in Canadian dollars).

Behind the scenes, however, Ottawa mayor Jim Watson had been begging GoFundMe to cut off the rest of the funds, in a hope to cut the truckers off at the knees and essentially “starve them into submission.”

On Friday, GoFundMe announced they would refuse to remit any more funds to organizers of the Freedom Convoy and would instead send the money to “established charities verified by GoFundMe.”

As reported in The Epoch Times, In a Feb. 4 post on Twitter, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson thanked GoFundMe for “listening to the plea made by the City and the Ottawa Police to no longer provide funds to the convoy organizers.”

“I’m hopeful that limiting their access to … funding and resources will restrict their ability to remain in Ottawa,” Watson said.

GoFundMe said donors could request their money back by going to their website to request a refund.

This in turn inspired the satirical Babylon Bee to offer this riposte: “The site has notified (…) donors (…) that their funds will now be donated to Planned Parenthood and Black Lives Matter unless they appear in person at the GoFundMe headquarters to fill out a 100-page form requesting their money back.” 

In a remark many readers found particularly galling, the Feb. 4 announcement claimed: “To ensure GoFundMe remains a trusted platform, we work with local authorities to ensure we have a detailed, factual understanding of events taking place on the ground.”

It seems no one working there ever thought that perhaps freezing $8 million might cause some people to no longer believe “GoFundMe remains a trusted platform.”

Their announcement continued:  “Following a review of relevant facts and multiple discussions with local law enforcement and city officials, this fundraiser is now in violation of our Terms of Service (Term 8, which prohibits the promotion of violence and harassment) and has been removed from the platform.” (…)  “We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity.” 

However, they cited no specific examples of violence.  

This in turn inspired the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, to unload on GoFundMe Friday night by calling them “Professional Thieves” for freezing the funds. “Double standard?” he quipped on Twitter, as he pointed out a screenshot that they had supported the CHOP “Occupied Zone” in Portland, Oregon during the crazy summer of 2020, where the anarchy and violence led to people getting shot and killed. 

Posted on Elon Musk’s Twitter page calling GoFundMe “Professional Thieves.”

Moreover, accusing those you disagree with as “violent” and “a threat” comes straight from the communist playbook. I am old enough to remember the Soviet Union, when dissidents and protestors were thrown in jail or mental hospitals on the vague charge of “hooliganism.” Such is the language and mindset of totalitarianism.

Sensing they had just brought a world-class PR disaster on themselves, the GoFundMe top brass began to desperately backpedal by this morning, February 5, claiming donors did not need to request a refund after all but that all donations will be refunded “automatically.”  After a 7-10 day wait.

Clever: so GoFundMe gets to earn interest off the $8 million while it’s in their hands.

But it seems the backpedaling is too little too late. Judging from the GoFundMe page on LinkedIn, where users are usually loath to get political, it seems their popularity is toast.

Today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and the attorneys general for Louisiana and West Virginia have claimed they intend to investigate the scandal.

Due to previous examples of bias, GoFundMe has already earned the distrust of many folks, and thus the crowdfunding site GiveSendGo was begun earlier as an alternative vehicle for making donations. GiveSendGo has allowed a group “Freedom 2022 Human Rights” to set up this campaign to receive donations.  The site was quick to point out, whereas it took GoFundMe several days to gather the first $1 million, the new GiveSendGo site took in that much within its first few hours of operation today. 

As of 11:00 am February 7, over 48,000 donors had given almost US$4.6.

That success is all the more remarkable when one realizes that page has been assaulted by hackers and bots much of February 5.

Freedom Convoy organizers have pledged to have a similar drive from California to Washington DC later. Recently, a page dedicated to organizing that movement was shut down by Facebook.

Imagine that.

Editor’s Note (story updated Feb. 7): As of today Feb 7th the Canadian Government has begun to confiscate citizens’ private donations to the legal protest:

Ottawa Police Seize Fuel From Freedom Convoy Protest Site, Make More Arrests

Learn more:
https://www.theepochtimes.com/gofundme-says-wont-give-10m-to-truck-protest-organizers-will-give-to-charity-instead_4257991.html

https://nypost.com/2022/02/05/elon-musk-gofundme-professional-thieves-for-withholding-10m-from-anti-vax-rally/

https://justthenews.com/nation/technology/crowdfunding-site-givesendgo-restarts-canadian-trucker-fund-dropped-gofundme

–Scott Dreyer

Scott Dreyer M.A. in his classroom. Dreyer, of Roanoke, has been a licensed teacher since 1987 and now leads a team of educators teaching English and ESL to a global audience. Their website is DreyerCoaching.com.

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