Monday, January 26, 2009


Within his first few days in office, President Obama has already stirred up a considerable amount of controversy among conservative right-wing Americans. His recent decision to re-instate funding to groups that provide and/or offer information about abortions has, predictably, caused outrage among evangelicals and conservatives. This peculiar issue of funding, which has been a flip-flop issue between Democrats and Republicans in every administration since Ronald Reagan, has tuoched a nerve on those in America who feel that it is their patriotic duty to ensure that control of women's bodies falls under the hands of old white men.

Interestingly, this funding applies to groups who are offering HIV prevention in Africa. Contraceptives and reproductive technologies that can be used to prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV suffered a dramatic cut in funding under the Bush administration, which is pure insanity. Who cares about the 922 million people who are living with or touched by HIV/AIDS? Because it makes so much sense to preserve one unborn life at the expense of thousands of others.

Obama's decision to re-instate funding also opens the door for organizations to offer realistic and practical sexual health education, rather than the abstinence-only system that infected American schools under the Bush adminsitration. It's about time someone in government realized that abstinence-only education only hurts kids and teens. No matter what kind of education you try to innoculate them with, kids are going to fool around so you had better make sure they know how to keep themselves and their partners safe. As it stands, 82% of teen pregnancies are unplanned; America has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed state. It is twice as high as Canada and England, and eight times as high as the Netherlands and Japan! All of these countries include sexual health education in their curriculum. Clearly, there is a problem with abstinence-only education.

American right-wing politicians need to remember that it is not their right to decide what a woman does with her body. Obama's decision on funding will hopefully set a precedent for his stance on women's rights during his period in office. As a man with both a functioning brain and two young daughters, Obama differs from Bush and other conservative politicians in that he can think outside the parametres of his religion in terms of policy-making decisions. Women's rights have been a hot topic for conservatives because it challenges their ideas of gender roles and the ownership of women's bodies. After eight years of fusing religion and policy, it is high time conservatives got a kick back down to the level of everyday people and emerged from the dark ages.

Monday, January 19, 2009


with Obama's inauguration less than one day away, some people have been debating whether paying attention to the ceremony qualifies as racist thinking. personally, i think there is no basis for that judgement, but i will play it their way and explain why.

while Obama's election signifies a landmark in American history, his value as president runs far deeper than the colour of his skin. whether black, white, asian, native, or any mix thereof, voters identified with Obama because he embodies a myth that they are all familiar with; the American dream. Obama rose from nothing to something, and this level of success resonates with people across the world. if a white woman rose to prominence from poverty and became prime minister, would watching my decision to watch her take office qualify me as a sexist? i think not.

Obama's ability to unite voters around a common theme, hope, is also a huge part of the reason why this election is so prominent. rarely before has there been such a strong connection between voters, and this is because of Obama's message that we are the future, we are the change in this world. his campaign message left people feeling empowered and exhilerated, something that has been scarce for the last eight years. when Trudeau ran for the Liberal leadership in 1967, his campaign was a symbol of energetic hope and generational change. he inspired Canadians of all ages, most particularily youth, and 'Trudeaumania' took hold of the country. yet Canadians who celebrated his envigorating and exhilerating message were not criticized for electing yet another white man to office, nor did black Canadians sit idley at the table, twiddling their thumbs as he was elected. people across the nation celebrated together, regardless of race.

when people say that i am a racist for thinking that Obama's inauguration is significant, i have one thing to say; grow up. we live in a world where people of all races can hold every possible position. if you enjoy working for a company that is led by a black CEO, are you racist for thinking that his innovative ideas are significant for the company? the answer is no. Obama's election, while marking a cornerstone in American history, is significant because of his ability to connect with people and the relative modernity of his ideals. trivilaizing his significance to the colour of his skin is pointless and a waste of energy.