OP-ED: An American Renaissance

We all know the slogan: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”. But where’s the appeal? Why the slogan hits home with so many people is the call to a ‘greater’ past. It’s the idea that America was once perfect but this was lost over time.

Anyone with a smartphone can Google ‘American history’ and find out that this past isn’t golden. But Trump’s call to a greater past implies that America lost something it used to have. “Looking back” is a strategy used in all kinds of places. Most notably in politics, but even subtly in places like malls and TV. It’s a trend that’s been used globally for centuries as a way to appeal to individuals on large scales.

In a way, Trump’s signature slogan is a call for an American renaissance. Renaissance is French for ‘rebirth’. It’s been mainly used to describe the years during the 14th-16th centuries when Europe saw a great burst of cultural, economical, and scientific change. This rebirth was sparked by the same nostalgia that Trump appeals to. Europe looked back at ancient Greece and Rome as their ‘great past’. The Europeans wanted to “MAKE EUROPE GREAT AGAIN”.

But Trump never labels a specific era that was the American great, and he doesn’t need to. When Trump tells people to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”, he’s not addressing American history. He’s appealing to each person with a past that they miss. Many people want to think that they would never be swayed by such vague promises. But it happens everyday, whether we know it or not.

Older generations are nostalgic for their youth. Many think that our current generation has ‘lost’ something that is making us act unruly. Author Svetlana Boym says in her book The Future of Nostalgia that “nostalgia appears to be a longing for a place but is actually a yearning for a different time – the time of our childhood, the slower rhythms of our dreams.”

Boym also states “the fantasies of the past determined by the needs of the present have a direct impact on the realities of the future.” Pride for the past is a powerful emotion, and people will filter out the bad parts in favour of the good. Maybe a person hates ripped jeans. In their mind, making America great again would be to ban them. Trump doesn’t need to give specific examples. We fill in the rest ourselves.

Trump is first and foremost a businessman. His gut tells him that the past sells. If you’ve watched the Netflix show Stranger Things or been to Urban Outfitters then you’ve been attacked by nostalgic propaganda. Steve Olenski, a writer for Forbes magazine, explains in his article Nostalgia Sells that we live in a fast-paced world and “many people have looked back to simpler times and been attracted to products from that past that remind them of when life wasn’t so complicated.” In other words, the past is safe and predictable. Trump promises a future that is exactly that. He uses nostalgia to sell himself and his promises to his customers, who in this case are the American people.

Where Trump falls short is his lack of connection to the much younger generation. If we guess that America’s ‘downfall’ began on 9/11 then we need to account for everyone born after that. The “MAKE AMERICAN GREAT” business falls flat with his audience who can’t remember 9/11 because they were too young and weren’t around to know a better America. This smaller generation is mostly filled with people who can’t vote yet, including the children who were born into the Trump presidency. We can’t deny that how these kids are raised will have an effect on their opinions of him. Trump, however, will need to begin changing his selling tactics if he wants this generation on his side. It will be nearly impossible to demand people remember a past that wasn’t theirs.

Trump’s American renaissance is already going down in history but it’s too early to tell what the long-term effects will be. Since these next few years will one day be our past, it raises the question of exactly how many of us will be nostalgic for it in the future.

 

 

Olympics and Nationalism: Is North Korea another example? Op-ed

Recent headlines for the Olympic games have North Korea as their subject. What will happen to the Athletes that have failed to win medals is in question. It seems that in the past, North Korea has sent athletes who represented their country and failed to win medals to what has been termed “gulag” like places. There the athletes are to be to be punished for their poor performance and thus a poor representation of North Korea at the Games. Along with a large number of cheerleaders that accompanied the athletes to the Games, there is something to be said for how important it is for authoritarian regimes to project a certain appearance of unity and nationalism which is what will be seen here.

 

It appears that participating in the Olympic Games is certainly a way to create nationalism as many countries experience the excitement behind cheering for one’s own country while their representatives compete. Social media battles ensue and everyone is talking about their country and how well they are doing or how well they should have done. However, The Olympics have had a historical connection to being propaganda for countries with authoritarian regimes as was seen in 1930’s Germany as well as in the 2008 games held in China (although technically a communist regime has many similarities to a fascist regime) and now with North Korea as examples.

 

For many countries, this is a fun and exciting time but when a fascist regime looks at something like the Olympics there is a much more serious tone put over the event. Nationalism can be seen through fascist history has an important component to keeping the support of the people and creating a feeling of unity. Many efforts can be seen in Nazi Germany, for example, to keep the people unified and promote nationalism.The 1936 Olympics is just one of the many ways this was done. Nationalism was promoted in Nazi Germany sports as they were seen to create unity among the youth. Another way the Olympics were used at that time was, as these games were the first ever to be televised, to show German ideals to the world and certainly how great Germany was including a stadium that was built with 100 000 seats to top the last Olympic games that were held in another country. North Korea, on the other hand, may not have been successful at winning metals but it did certainly show signs of its attempt to display unity and nationalism with its large number of cheerleaders.

 

The Olympics in China, (although not exactly a fascist regime it shares many similaterites to one) had some very negative headlines as well when it hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. There have been many controversies over whether it had open media as it had pledged and not to mention the many human rights violations that have been reported as a result of the games. The cost of the games is high, along with controversies that usually ensue but for a resume like China, it can be understood there is an importance of the nation wanting to portray itself as powerful and unified for its own citizens and the world to maintain control of the country. As a result, bringing home no metals to North Korea in this years Olympics can be devastating to the image of power North Korea has been trying to build certainly in the last few months with the missile controversy between it and the US.

 

In short, the Olympics have proven throughout history up until today to be a platform for countries to not only strengthen nationalism within their borders but to display strength to other countries. This does not manifest itself more strongly than in those countries that have authoritarian regimes such as in 1930’s Germany, China or currently in the competing North Korea. For most people, the Olympics are a fun way to have national pride and competition with neighboring countries, albeit at times with some issues over things like doping and corruption, but the thought of the use of the Olympics as propaganda is usually far from the minds of people just having fun.

You’re Either With Me, Or Against Me: the Death of Healthy Debate Within The Modern Era of Mass Misinformation

Every morning I like to lay in bed reading the news of the day, enjoying the peace and quiet of my apartment before begrudgingly forcing myself out of bed to face the chaos of the outside world. I usually avoid scanning over the comments on these articles as they are often a place void of healthy debate and mostly full of immature tactics such as name-calling. Recently, I started to think that maybe I shouldn’t be ignoring what these people are saying. It demonstrates how much trouble we’re really in. To my dismay, the art of the healthy debate is dead.

My pessimism is generated not only from what is being discussed in the news, but how it’s being discussed by the public. From personal experience, it seems that this kind of toxic discussion is not only present in comments on articles online but has made a home in many other parts of political discussion. It appears both ends of the political spectrum, the left and the right, are alienating themselves. This “us-versus-them” dynamic is creating an aggressive political climate that is lacking constructive debate over policy.

People assign themselves as “left or right”. Then, rigid like the roots of a tree, “plant” themselves on one side of the political fence and refuse to move (all the while cursing those on the other side). In their unwillingness to allow their world view to be challenged by obtaining information from varied sources, people have made themselves vulnerable. Many people don’t demand better policies as they only care about the party itself. Blind faith has allowed citizens to fall into the popularity trap. It doesn’t matter what the right does because it’s not left, and vice versa.

Fake News Image

image source: HTTP://WWW.PHILLY.COM/PHILLY/OPINION/SIGNE/20161204_DAILY_SIGNE_CARTOON_12_04_16.HTML

Sure, politics has always been deeply dividing as a person’s political beliefs are often a large part of who they are. And true, disagreements over major political opinions have often created friction – but this over-aggressiveness seems to be preventing actual progress and change. But why is this occurring? Has this always been a consequence of democracy? Is this a recurring cultural phenomenon that has been placed under a magnifying glass by social media – and the ability to comment, sometimes anonymously, on news articles?

In their book, Liars! Cheaters! Evildoers! – Demonization and the End of Civil Debate in American Politics, Tom de Luca and John Buell discuss the rise of malice in current American political debate. They state that the growing divide between the left and right has its roots in the 60s. The Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War ear have had a major impact on political discourse. Minority groups have been gaining a platform on the political front and are challenging the historically “conservative” way of life.

The rise of movements like Black Lives Matter, the increase in LGBTQ rights, and a more sexually free and racially diverse Western society is pushing previous boundaries. This seems to have increased fear on both sides of the political spectrum: those who fear that their way of life is being threatened, and those who believe their rights are being denied by allowing the current way of life to continue. It doesn’t help that both sides are being radicalized by one another (If you support BLM you hate white people! If you support Trump you’re a bigot!).

I believe we are reaching a boiling point as society is coming to terms with the fact that these extremes cannot coexist. This paranoia has caused aggressiveness out of desperation, and this desperation has eroded the ability to see the “other” as a fellow human with a difference of opinion and unique perspective on life.

So where do we go from here? How can we create better political discourse if now all the other side has to do is scream “fake news” when they don’t like what they read? Is it possible for people to view political matters through an impartial lens, one that isn’t clouded by race or “left” and “right”? Many people are willingly keeping themselves in a bubble consisting of only information from their end of the political spectrum – how do we pop that bubble? How do we restore the art of healthy debate in modern society? If we can dissolve the tendency to reduce each other down to simply “left” or “right” stereotypes and attempt to look at the larger mechanisms at work, we might be able to create a future that is more inclusive and eradicate the recent trend of demonizing the “other”.

Censoring Public Symbols

         The names of roads, towns, buildings and clubs surround us with stories. In some places, governments try to have power and control over public spaces and media. According to democracy public spaces should not be controlled or censored, they should be shaped through public discourse, popular opinion and competitive politics.

         The recent removal of the statue of Edward Cornwallis in Halifax, as well as the removal of many confederate monuments in America have sparked debate over public sentiment towards these monuments and whether or not it’s right to remove controversial symbols of history.

Edward Cornwallis was the founder of Halifax and was also known to mistreat native people. He issued a notorious proclamation in 1749 which gave a reward for killing Mi’kmaq people.  Many people have called for the removal of monuments due to their dark history, however many others feel monuments are historical pieces of art and the way they have once been presented to the public is an important part of the story.

          The goal of history is to create the most holistic understanding possible in order to understand the circumstances of our present and future. In a way, the removal of monuments could send a message that these events should be remembered in a different way.  The statues and their stories do not disappear when they are moved. Some monuments are moved to a new space where they can be re-contextualized, however some are stored away from the public eye. Is removing public monuments really the best way to appease public controversies?

Like any government project, the removal and relocation of monuments is a costly affair. Perhaps it would be more positive to invest in the writing of wider and more holistic stories which address controversies, or invest funding into modern groups and organizations to improve the rights and well being of citizens, especially those who have been mistreated.

           The interesting part in cases such as Edward Cornwallis is that monuments are being moved out of respect and in response to public outcry. Whereas the malicious destruction of sentimental belongings, buildings, homes, and artifacts has been an unfortunate occurrence throughout history.The National Capital commission has decided to take this statue down to avoid vandalism and violence.

The purpose of monuments is not only to celebrate the positive parts of history, but also to pay respect to those who have suffered, and to remember stories so we can avoid future suffering. Ideally, critical and inclusive history would be easily accessible to all. The actors and events of history should speak for themselves, and people will continue to judge them based on their own moral standing.

        Carleton University (CU) is named after Guy Carleton. Carleton came from Ireland to serve the military in British North America. He participated in gruesome warfare that killed many people, and trained other people to kill and conquer the ‘enemy’, for the ‘greater good of the nation’. In popular history written by the British empire, he is not condemned as a murderer, his memory is romanticized as working and sacrificing for the nation and the empire.

        When reading about Egerton Ryerson on the government funded website Historica Canada, the fact that the Ryerson University of Toronto, Ontario has been called to be renamed by activists is mentioned in the first paragraph. Egerton Ryerson was born in 1803 in upper Canada and was one of the founders of the public education system in Ontario. Students and activists have called for renaming of the school due to Ryerson’s involvement in the development of residential schools. Does Carleton’s University’s name face a similar threat?

         Carleton lived over 200 years ago, yet his name still appears in hundreds of books, schools, towns and parks all across the country. Despite controversial history of Guy Carleton, CU stands as strong and proud institution, while bearing the name of someone who participated in causing great and inhumane suffering. The truth is, not everyone knows where CU got its name. Perhaps this means CU should make a Guy Carleton history project to show students the history behind the name they wear.

         As time passes the places and institutions named after Carleton will bring new legacies and memories to his name. For most students the name Carleton does not represent a British soldier, it represents passionate professors, classmates and friends.

The Reality of Reality: Omarosa Manigault on Celebrity Big Brother

Since the explosion of reality television at the turn of the 21st century, they become perceived as a lighthearted form of entertainment lacking in any credibility whatsoever. However, with the election of reality star Donald Trump, reality shows have become more intertwined with politics than ever before. This is certainly evident with the appearance of Omarosa Manigault, former Director of Communications at the White House Office of Public Liaison, on Celebrity Big Brother.

Although this is the first American celebrity season, Big Brother has been on the air in the USA since 2000. The premise involves contestants being locked in a house under 24/7 surveillance. Every week they compete and one contestant is evicted, with the last remaining contestant winning a cash prize. Although the show has had its share of controversy (see: Big Brother 15 racism controversy), casting a celebrity with such a publicized political background is very new for the show. This has brought new interest, but also new problems of using a reality show as a source of political news.

Last week, news broke about a conversation Omarosa had in the house with fellow contestant Ross Mathews. In it, she described the current state of the White House, stating “it’s bad” and “It’s not going to be okay”. She has since warned fellow contestants that if Vice President Mike Pence became president, they would be “begging for the days of Trump” as Pence “thinks Jesus tells him to say things”.

The public has reacted to these claims with both concern and outrage on both sides of the political spectrum.

There are three main ways of looking at these statements: 1) she’s lying as part of the game, 2) she’s exaggerating, using the show to get personal revenge or 3) she’s telling the truth.

In my opinion, the reality is a combination of all three.

First of all, one has to remember that although Big Brother has 24/7 cameras, it is fundamentally a competition show.

Unlike U.K. version, the public has little impact on the game; essentially meaning only the other contestants matter. It is actually closer in format to Survivor in that lying is imperative for success. It it no coincidence that the most prolific players are noted primarily for being deceptive.

Therefore, the very nature of the reality show makes it a not very credible source. What is said on Big Brother is not the modern Watergate, considering the contestants signed up for the show and are aware of the cameras. It is more comparable to a traditional televised interview, except if the interviewee were also trying to compete with the interviewer.

Omarosa, a veteran of The Apprentice, is no doubt savvy to the gameplay aspect of Big Brother. Her only real chance in the game is to distance herself from Trump. The fact that her audience in the first conversation was Ross Mathews (of Rupaul’s Drag Race) who explicitly stated he didn’t understand people who support Trump, only supports the theory that she said it to play the game.

However, as reality show veteran, she must also be very aware of the consequences of such remarks. She may be currently isolated, but from her personal experience, she must know how one comment can ignite a firestorm. There is no doubt her remarks have done this.

Regardless of her intent, in the wake of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury her comments have gained traction to the point of even being addressed in White House press conferences. Once released from Big Brother, she has to defend what she said. Would she really risk her reputation over a lie in a reality show? I’d argue no.

While her comments certainly serve the purpose of gameplay and may be an exaggeration due to her uneasy relationship with the Trump administration, I don’t think she would go all in on such comments if they did not have at least some truth to them. The reality show context complicates the use of her comments as a source of information, but that does not mean they are completely invalid. Rather, in the era of “fake news,” we should just be even more careful to evaluate new sources of information than ever before.

North Korea uses unified Olympic hockey team as propaganda against the US: Op/Ed

This week in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, North and South Korea’s joint women’s hockey team will play, marking the first ever unified Korean team. After months of negotiation between both North and South Korea, this symbolic gesture is a diplomatic push by the North to ease tensions after a year of growing fears and war rhetoric.

While this gesture is meant to relieve pressure over North Korea’s nuclear weapon programme, we are seeing the presence of anti-unification protests in Seoul. Protesters worry that the show of unity will threaten South Korea’s democracy, and that the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un is only using the Olympics to politically advertise the two nations at peace. However this gesture is no more than an opportunity for North Korea to create a wedge between South Korea and the United States.

The Olympics offer North Korea a unique opportunity to boost its propaganda, and create an alliance with the south, making it more difficult for the US to continue their military threats.

To fully understand the gravity of this decision it’s important to look at why North and South Korea were separated in the first place.

Imperial Japan ruled over Korea from 1910 until 1945, when they were forced to surrender after World War II. Korea became a victim of the Cold War as it was divided along the 38th parallel, with US troops occupying the South, and the Soviet Union occupying the North. On June 25, 1950 North Korea launched a surprise attack on the South, starting the Korean War that would last three years, and cause US intervention. When an armistice was finally reached in July 1953, 2.5 million people had died. Since then, tensions between North Korea and the United States remain high, especially between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.

North Korea’s use of the Olympics as a political tool is not a new tactic. In 1980, the US boycotted the Moscow Olympics in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In reaction to this, Pyongyang boycotted the 1984 California Olympics in solidarity with the Soviet Union.

Domestically, North Korea has used the Olympics as a propaganda tool for decades. They began competing in the Winter Olympic Games in 1964, and the Summer Olympic Games in 1972. They have earned 56 medals in total, 16 of them gold. However, sporting events in North Korea are almost always shown at a later time, so that the government can choose to only broadcast favourable games. When North Korea is not in a favourable position, the results are often never broadcast and the population left in the dark.

The unification of Korea is highly unlikely at this time due to cultural, historical and economic circumstances. Therefore this display is merely a show from North Korea to the US. This should come as no surprise from the vastly unpredictable country. North Korea’s radical nationalism and fascination with violence as a political strategy is an example of how fascist regimes are a danger. North Korea, as well as many other former fascist countries such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, have used propaganda as a political tactic. If the vital US ally South Korea begins seriously talking with North Korea, the US administration may be forced to soften their position on North Korea policy, even though the two countries are far from becoming a union. While Kim Jong Un seems to be offering olive branches to his neighbours, he makes no effort to show signs of denuclearization. Therefore, while spectators may cheer on the unified Korean athletes, it’s important to note the true political background of the situation.

Wage Hike – The wrong way to do the right thing?

For many Canadians the wage hike comes as a much needed relief – It represents affordable housing, and for those of us who live paycheck to paycheck, every dollar counts. Why wasn’t this done sooner, and why would anyone oppose this?

While every dollar counts, others are counting the dollars. According to a July study by The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 34 percent of Ontario’s smaller businesses would consider relocation or closure in response to the increase.

For these businesses, tight profit margins force expenditure cuts wherever possible. In their view, Ontario is becoming an unnecessary expense – a cross too heavy to bear.

However not all who oppose the wage hike, oppose wage hikes – many critics of Kathleen Wynne’s ‘full steam ahead’ approach, are misconstrued – they want progressive wages, not ones full of steam.

There is merit to this point – the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis found that a more gradual wage increase over a 5 year period would put fewer jobs at risk. Mitigating job risk should not be overlooked – The Bank of Canada estimates as many as 60,000 employment losses from the wage increase.

A 5 year gradual implementation would have afforded the economy time to adapt. Rather, it now faces an unprecedented single wage increase. Was this wage increase rolled out too fast?

Absolutely, but it was baffling to me why Kathleen Wynne, our Premier since 2013, would neglect the opportunity to get an early head start on a more gradual implementation.

According to Mike Crawley in a CBC article, Wynne previously supported inflation based nudging of the minimum wage – she saw it as “a really good process …. That actually depoliticizes the increases to the minimum wage.”

In those days a “predictable and sustainable” increase of the minimum wage were very important to her – what changed?

Well the wage increase did not come too early, nor did it come too late – It came just on time. On January 1st, the minimum wage became 14 dollars an hour, and is promised to raise to 15 by next year. An amazing coincidence – The minimum wage hike comes right before an election. Evidence suggests a gradual hike would have been less turbulent for the economy – but that would have been inconvenient for Kathleen Wynne.

She compromised the implementation of a 15 dollar minimum wage – A wage that many of her most ardent critics do not necessarily disagree with. She did it for political expediency, and while the Progressive Conservatives are hampered by scandal, it is the perfect time to capitalize on the jewel of her campaign.

 

Modern Fascism and Socailism

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the idea of any major Western society choosing to adopt large-scale socialist policies, or any policies that fall left of the particular county’s ideas of neoliberalist capitalism, has felt unlikely. Although it is certainly debatable whether the Soviet Union even constituted a socialist or communist society, it was seen largely in the West as the epitome of Marxism, socialism, and left-wing politics as a whole. And so the idea of seeing these political ideologies rise in the West, particularly in the United States, the largest cultural influencer in the West, has seemed unlikely. In saying this, following the Second World War, it would have seemed crazy to imagine a similar ideology to what they just fought against would arise in the United States and the rest of the West, but it is completely legitimate to accept the ‘alt-right’ as a form of neo-fascism. If a form of fascism can rise following the Second World War, the Cold War shouldn’t stand in the way of a rise of socialism, especially considering far-winged emerging ideologies are often met with a rise of a contrasting ideology.

The Cold War was very much seen as a battle between both political and cultural ideologies. While the Soviet Union and the United State always portrayed the USSR as a socialist society and a self-proclaimed dictatorship of the proletariat, it truly was more of an authoritarian government that operated in state capitalism, particularly following the rise of Joseph Stalin in the 1920s. The dichotomy between American and Soviet societies created a significant resentment, particularly in the United States, towards socialism and other left-winged political ideologies. This resentment largely remains with those who grew up with it, but with the active population becoming ever-more populated with people who did not live during the Cold War, sympathy for these ideologies has risen.

While there certainly was some sympathy for Nazi Germany and their practices before, and presumably some after the Second World War, it is safe to say that fascism and Nazism were not well regarded in the West following the War. Despite this, seven decades later, there arses likeminded ideologies, both in Europe and North America, that can be considered modern versions of these WWII ideologies. While these people would still have likely grown up with an overall resentment towards fascists and Nazis around them, they did not experience or feel any direct affects from the War and the harm in which these ideologies directly affected. While there certainly are differences between the ways socialism and fascism were seen following the Cold War and Second World War respectively, there are similarities in the ways they can reappear in the public mindset, with younger people that didn’t perceive any negative experience from these ideologies.

In the past, a rise in a far-winged ideology has often been met with a rise in a contrasting far-winged ideology to oppose it. During the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, the Spanish Military, backed by a series of right-winged and far-right political parties, preformed a coup d’état on the Spanish government, which at the time was made up mostly of socialist and communists. The population was divided politically, with the backers of the military largely being fascists, and their opposers being backed largely by socialists, communists, and anarchists. Today’s West and 1930s Spain are most definitely very different places, but it is clear that these ideologies rose in opposition of the other. While fascism and socialism certainly aren’t polar opposite ideologies, and so a rise in a form of neo-fascism wouldn’t necessarily result in the rise of a neo-socialism, an overall rise in far-right ideologies could certainly result in an overall rise in farther-left ideologies, including socialism.

While in the many year during and since the Cold War many nations have instituted socialist or socialist-esque policies, its large-scale institution in the West has largely fallen out of favour. But, with the rise in youth who didn’t live during the Cold War and the rise of a somewhat contrasting ideology in the alt-right, socialism could rise to prominence in the West again.

Feminism is flourishing amid Trump presidency

In the context of populist regimes and movements, the role of women and their ability to engage with their surroundings has incredible historic repercussion in the growth and perpetuation of feminist ideals.

Women’s movements are nothing new. Women have been fighting for equal rights in many capacities since the suffrage movement. The interesting element is the ability for women to do that under populist regimes. This has benefits, and consequences. In the wake of the #MeToo movement addressing sexual assault and violence, the general public is starting to understand the power of mass female movements, and their influence in the larger political context.  

In the 1930s, the rise of Nazism gave way to a political climate of fear and violence. This was not only issues through the war, but also through the Holocaust.  Women under the Nazi party used the institutions in place to move their way through the ranks. At the time of Nazi power, women still did not have the right to vote, a symbol of their poor political and social status. Their ability to participate in the war greatly affected their ability to organize. This came in the form of working as secretaries, marrying high ranking officers, and serving as nurses or militia women.

Serving in the war came at a great cost to women in Germany. As explained in Wendy Lowler’s  Hitler’s Furies, women were expected to take on more responsibility in lieu of men going off to battle. By the end of the war, women made up 40% of the roles in high ranking Gestapo offices. Under the anti-Semitic regime of Nazi Germany, there were three main categories for women: witnesses, accomplices, and murderers. One of the testaments in Lowler’s novel, made by Erna Petri, stated that she justified the violent actions against the Jewish people as a desire to prove herself to the men, and to further advance her social status.

Parallels exist between female militancy in Nazi Germany and segregation movements in the United States. A women’s group in the United States known as Daughters of the American Revolution are a group of ladies responsible for the maintenance of American culture. Over the years there has been swirling controversy over their practices. Until recently, there was heavy segregation for black American women in the group, as well as the funding to preserve Confederate generals’ statues. In light of the neo-Nazi demonstrations in places like Charlottesville, these symbols and statues continue to promote pro-slavery rhetoric and fuel the overall segregated, populist sentiment.

The difference between movements of the past, and today, is the ability to resort to violence and exclusionary politics in the face of populism. While the women in the previous examples were able to use the political institutions for their own personal advancement, it was at a detriment to other individuals and social groups.

On the other hand, women during the Trump administration era today are supporting each other and using their stories to inspire. While the President is a known molester, women have come out in large crowds, of every race, creed, religion, and sexual orientation to march and protest for their basic rights. In 2017, just a few months after Trump was elected to office and cut programs like Planned Parenthood, over 500,000 women and supporters marched in Washington to advocate for legislation reform in support of women’s rights and social programs. The movement has grown to multiple cosmopolitan cities across the United States and worldwide, reaching numbers of marchers again in the hundreds of thousands.

This gives me hope because in the face of racist and hateful world leaders that are using populist rhetoric, women today are coming together and fighting for what is right and important, in a way that supports each other.

Featured Image from: CNN

Dear Mr. Trudeau, Trump will nix NAFTA…

Justin Trudeau believes that Trump will not nix NAFTA on the basis that it is “bad politics” and the United States economy will suffer. Both statements from Trudeau are true, but please do not put too much faith in Trump. The world has witnessed what Mr. President is like, do not bet your cards on him not nixing it.

Trudeau has claimed that the Canadian government is ready in-case NAFTA has been cancelled by the United States. In an interview, Trudeau stated “Not only do we have a Plan B, we have a Plan C and D and E and F”, he also continued by stating that but Plan A is to stick to pushing for NAFTA and to attempt in getting the best deal for Canadians, because getting a bad deal is worse than no deal.

I wonder if Trudeau is attempting to stay calm just so the Canadian public does not freak out about the possible collapse of the relationship with the countries biggest trading partner, or is he just that naïve and he has no solid back-up plan. Trudeau can not rely on the possibility that NAFTA collapsing will guarantee a deal will take place without Mexico.

A Year has passed since Trumps presidency began, it has taught us (the public) that all Mr. President motives are personal and revolves around his empire. The tax cuts that he made affected middle-class and lower-class income families in the United States, but gave him and all his business partners a couple of extra billion dollars that went straight to their pockets. The “tax cuts” that took place included some healthcare benefits for families in need, but instead he opted out for extra cash for the wealthiest 1% Americans (“real Americans”, mind you). If Trump decides to nix NAFTA, he will not care about the United States making a deal with Canada right away, he will most likely just sit and wait until Canada gives him what he seeks.

Trudeau’s naïvety does not let him see that anyone is crazy enough to cancel such a deal. He needs to realize that Trump does not share the same values as he does. Let’s go down memory lane, shall we? Mr. President does not care (or pay attention) about his allies views and opinions, i.e. the UK. The president (and his sons) has literally blamed London’s mayor for the terror attacks that have taken place in London a few months ago. He condemned Theresa May and her government on various occasions, to a point where MPs were so uncomfortable with him and his bigoted remarks that they demanded the invitation for the state visit to be withdrawn to avoid an increase in hate crimes.

Trudeau needs to realize that President Donald Trump does not have the same mentality that lead him to be the successful businessman that he was at one point. The man that understood basic economics and politics. Mental health specialists have reported to have suspicions on Trumps mental stability due to the various remarks he made about various nations and citizens, such as referring to South American and African countries as “shith*le” countries and wishing the US’ immigrants were from Norway and Europe. No political leader in the right state of mind would make such a statement, even if it was in a private meeting behind closed doors.

Trudeau needs to start official talks with Mexico for temporary deals without the US as a just-in-case NAFTA gets nixed, and make these deals on the same level of priority as keeping NAFTA in-check. Better trade deals need to take place with the EU, Oceania, and Asia, so the Canadian economy will not take as strong of a hit as it will in our current situation

 

Sources:

Huffington Post

CBC 1

CBC 2

CBC 3

CBC 4

Vox

The Atlantic

Global News

The Star

The Globe and Mail

Statistics Canada