“My body, my choice”, an ironic juxtaposition

How the use of this controversial slogan has shifted

Growing up, I heard the phrase “My body, my choice” often, whether it was in the context of a history class, in the news, or from a speech my mom once gave me. And then, in the mid 2010s, I discovered the ongoing feminism, womanism, and intersectional feminism movement, and the fight towards the right to decide what’s best for our bodies.

In today’s context, the phrase has been co-opted by a new movement – anti-vaxx – that intrudes upon the safety of many. 

The disease we shall not speak of has created a faction of society that has a fundamental problem with wearing a small piece of cloth over their mouths, getting a vaccine to protect themselves and others from stronger, more contagious variants of the virus, and the use of vaccine passports.

So now, here we are, at a crossroads between the right to choose and the right to… choose, I guess?

It is important to acknowledge that traditional feminism has a long and continued history of excluding Black women and women of colour. In the 1970s, women fought for the right to work outside the home and to ensure their reproductive rights, specifically in the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, which made abortion services legal, though not nessesarily accessible.

Women everywhere were fighting for the right to choose, but white women mostly ignored important issues that mainly impacted women of colour. This resulted in the start of the womanism movement, which focuses specifically on the everyday concerns related to the Black female experience. It takes a focus on the deeper issues and the intersectionality between being a woman and a person of colour, ultimately addressing concerns that white folks were not interested in.

The phrase “My body, my choice” used to represent a movement that — although flawed — had an overarching goal to give power back to women, specifically when it came to our reproductive freedom. It’s ironic now to hear the slogan chanted by some of the same people who would yell “GOD LOVES YOU” as you walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic.

There are obviously some good reasons to not get vaccinated, such as if you have a health condition that is recognized as having a negative reaction to the vaccine.

Additionally, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 49 per cent of Black Americans stated their lack of trust in the institutions that provide vaccines. There is a documented history of mistreatment of marginalized peoples in the era of eugenics, such as Black Americans, people of Asian and Pacific descent, Indigenous persons, and disabled people. Non-consensual medical experimentation, which goes along with medical professionals having a disregard for the pain and suffering of their patients, has led to a continued lack of trust in western medical institutions for many marginalized people.

Other reasons, such as the side effects of the vaccine or thinking COVID-19 isn’t a real threat seem like a bad joke to me. I can believe some Trump constituents were brainwashed into believing the pandemic wasn’t a real threat, I just cannot get over the hypocrisy in that belief. For decades, women have been fighting for freedom and independence for their reproductive rights, but that has always been outrageous to white conservative Americans, who are composed of 85 per cent Christians. They expect us to just sit down and listen to the Bible whether or not we believe what it says. But today, when the entire world is collectively enduring a pandemic, these same people cannot handle being told what to do.

For decades, people with uterus’s have had to put up and deal with inaccessible healthcare and old white men making the decisions about our vaginas and sex lives, but as soon as those same people experience one hundredth of what it is to have your body regulated, all I hear is whining.

And the fact that the so-called injustice of today is as simple as wearing a mask, in comparison to taking any method of contraception, highly gatekept abortions, the realities of having to live with those decisions, the external judgment, your body and your choices being debated every election, and plain old birth control side effects, whether it’s an IUD and your gyno has to crawl up your cervix every five years, or you have a pill to take everyday — a pill that could make you gain weight, lose weight, have acne, mood swings, painful period cramps, and the list goes on and on.  Keep in mind, I just had to think of my own experiences to make this list… which does not even scratch the surface.

But now, this same person is angry their president didn’t get elected, mad that there’s a hoax of a virus the elite Liberals have created, and that they blew it out of proportion to control us.

Instead of being mad, I’m just going to laugh at the irony of today. It’s everywhere you look, in each nook and cranny around us – from every social media post to every article.


Feature graphic by James Fay


100 seconds to midnight

What does the Capitol Hill siege mean for us?

It’s 100 seconds to midnight. Last year, the symbolic Doomsday Clock assessed that we are closer to a global man-made catastrophe than ever since the clock’s creation in 1947. The decision was made on account of the climate emergency, rising nuclear tensions, growing distrust in governments all around the world, weaponization of technology… and all this before the whirlwind that was 2020.

The evening of Jan. 6 saw “As a Canadian” trending on Twitter, as so many of us bemocked America’s fate, yet again turning a blind eye to our own run-ins with white supremacy in favour of our ‘it’s not as bad here’ façade. All of a sudden, we forgot that the founder of the Proud Boys is a Canadian man, or that there was a group of Montrealers who organized to participate in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

So let’s get this straight: the civil unrest in the US is especially concerning to us as Canadians.

Civil wars are started when a population loses trust in its government, and feels strongly enough that their issues can’t be solved by other means than organizing and taking arms. Statistically, poorer countries are more at risk of entering wars because of their inability to improve the economy, and financial and political inequality also often spark conflict.

Far-right groups have invented all kinds of conspiracies to discredit the media, Democrats, and basically anyone who doesn’t worship Donald Trump. They believe he’s the only one who can properly handle the American economy and save them from the looming threat that is socialism. They have expressed their anger at the dilution of (white) American culture through the apparent invasion of immigrants.

From what we’ve witnessed through their behaviour in recent years, which culminated with the attack on the Capitol, these far-right groups have shown that they aren’t scared — and are in fact proud — to take arms and uphold their views through violence.

On the left, the increasingly vocal contenders for the Black Lives Matter movement have shown their persistence to take to the streets and protest — rain or shine, through tear gas and pandemic. Left-wing groups have also demanded universal healthcare, erasure of student debt, more money towards climate action, and defunding the police and the army in the last few months.

Though I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist, this seems to me a clear recipe for civil war.

Our economy, national security, military strength, foreign relations, everything down to the results of our elections depend on how the United States is feeling. There’s a reason people say “When America sneezes, Canada catches cold.” Nine days after Trump was sworn in as president, six Quebecers were killed in a Sainte-Foy mosque, a clear message that we haven’t been able to escape Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric.

Many have also wondered how Justin Trudeau will be expected to handle this. Will officially recognizing the Proud Boys as a terrorist group give the federal government reason to increase our military budget? As political unrest becomes inevitably more violent in the US, will it allow our federal government to take preventive, but invasive measures like increased surveillance and armed law enforcement?

For the past two years, I’ve been saying that I predict a civil war in the United States by 2025, and that I’d be surprised if it didn’t happen in the next three years. I think this is the most sinister ‘I told you so’ moment I’ll ever have.


Feature graphic by James Fay @jamesfaydraws


What in the wawawewa is Borat wearing, and why does it work?

Borat’s success depends on a painful truth in western culture — that a poorly tailored suit is sometimes more effective at reaching the truth than the perfect outfit. Here’s why.

Borat,” a satirical film released in 2006, stars Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat Sagdiyev, a caricature of a local news journalist from Kazakhstan who embarks on a trip to “the U.S. of A.” to learn about “the greatest country in the world” — America. His hilarious-yet-cringy findings shocked audiences around the world, and gave energy to a form of self-exposing, subjective journalism that first made its debut with Hunter S. Thompson’s radical writing in the late 1960’s, Gonzo journalism.

Gonzo journalism is making a comeback, with big media companies like Vice Media piggybacking off its reputation with their series “One-Star Reviews,” and independent media like All Gas No Breaks using the style to create original, culturally relevant content.

What do they all have in common? An ill-fitting suit. So the real question becomes, why does a shitty outfit work so well at disarming people, and why does it matter?

Borat exposes the underbelly of western society through painfully awkward interactions with politicians, celebrities, and the public. He is a cocktail of pathetic, bigoted, and lovable (at a safe distance). His look is the visual equivalent of a stiff one — with a mix of ignorance, moustache, and slapstick, the combination relaxes people into singing with him, “Dr. Fauci, what we gonna do? Inject him with the Wuhan flu. WHO, what we gonna do? Chop ’em up like the Saudis do.”

How does this wacky character work so well at exposing people’s ignorance?

A lot of Borat’s success is the result of his tapping into a sense of nationalism that is downright intense in America. Canada shares this self-congratulating vein, despite our many failures in championing human rights, animal rights, and environmental rights. With these shortcomings in mind, Canada has managed a pretty cheerful international reputation, thanks to an excellent public relations team that tirelessly works to reinforce the notion that North America is a civilization run on the basis of freedom, dignity, and integrity. Despite Canada’s efforts, Borat calls bullshit on western values, especially American western values. Baron Cohen’s work has resulted in ousting the otherwise inaccessible political figures and upper crust, some of whom are caught with their literal hand in their pants. This really happened.

A crowning jewel in Baron Cohen’s career as a satirical entertainer comes from his collaboration with Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, the co-star in his sequel to “Borat,” “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which was released just a few weeks ago. The film stars Bakalova as fictional character Tutar Sagdiyev, Borat’s 15-year-old daughter, who interviews President Donald Trump’s personal attorney and former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani.

We are in an age where the court of public opinion is brutal, and the gladiator sport of our time is catching people’s worst sides and worst moments on film. In 2006, Borat popularized the sport, and now in 2020, Borat has perfected it.

We’re in the confessional age of journalism. We want to see firsthand accounts of events. We want to see corruption with our own eyes. We want to see real-life villains describe their evil master plan to our heros while they’re slowly lowered into a tank of hungry sharks. We want a video confession.

Borat gives it to us.

What does that say about the subjects of Baron Cohen’s interviews, that they so readily lean into bigotry when a man with an accent and loose suit nudges them? What does it say about her interview subjects that when Tutor (the young journalist with bleach-blonde hair and an accent)  performs Borat’s classic antics, she endures very different consequences? What does it say about us, the viewers, for the fact that we watch this — the demise of bigoted people and the discomfort of vulnerable people — for entertainment?



 Graphic by @ariannasivira

Inside the mind of an anti-masker

How QAnon conspiracies, religion, and anti-maskers come together

Since the pandemic hit North America, many have been criticized for their public refusal to follow government lockdown orders and, most notably, for not wanting to wear masks. These people have been identified as “anti-maskers.”

Some anti-maskers are part of a movement linked to far-right ideologies involving religion and an internet conspiracy group called Qanon.

Qanon is an online conspiracy group that claims that a cabal of sex trafficking satanic pedophiles run the world. The group was started in 2016 on sites like 4chan by an anonymous user. They now have a worldwide following.


“There is no second wave. There wasn’t even a first one,” stated Richard Décarie in an interview with The Concordian. Décarie is a former Conservative politician who was banned from running as the Conservative Party leader for saying controversial things like “being gay is a choice.”

Décarie is also a firm believer that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is part of Agenda 21, a UN resolution signed by governments in 1992 with an action plan for future sustainable development. QAnon and other conspiracists have included Agenda 21 as part of a complex and elaborate conspiracy theory.

In a nutshell, the conspiracists claim the UN has a plan to impose a “world government” by 2030, meaning they want to get rid of all the sovereign countries and have one global government for the entire world. Essentially, they’re saying the UN and other “deep state” members want a globalized communist government where we would have no individual rights and freedoms.

“The government is favouring large global companies and disfavouring small businesses,” stated Décarie. According to him, this plan has been in the works for years. He claims the COVID-19 pandemic was created to distract us from what’s happening: a world takeover which is only advantageous for the “world’s elite” and big corporations.

Décarie is also avidly against wearing a mask. He claims that “Wearing a mask is a sign of submission.” Décarie is convinced that masks are a control mechanism to see how submissive the population is to the government. Meanwhile, the CDC and other scientific organizations provide significant data showing that wearing a mask can reduce the spread of any virus, including COVID-19.

With no scientific evidence to justify his arguments, Décarie still assumes that he is doing the right thing by spreading his message.

Many other conspiracists like Décarie are sharing their theories on social media platforms, believing they are doing the “right thing.” Facebook, in particular, recently banned all QAnon-related content from its platform.

Even when asked if he’s a “conspiracy theorist,” Décarie instantly said he is a “truth finder,” a label consistent with the QAnon narrative.

Décarie believes we will find a way out of the deep state’s plan and our “faith in God will make us see what they are doing and they will not succeed.”

Religious Matters 

It’s no surprise that Décarie is very religious. Many unsuspecting Christians go down the “rabbit hole,” a term used to describe the altered state of those who go so far into the QAnon conspiracies that it takes over their lives.

Many religious leaders in the United States, such as Danny Silk, have been preaching QAnon-related narratives to their followers and encouraging them to vote for Trump. However, this isn’t only limited to the USA; some Canadian ministers and preachers have also been preaching similar narratives, such as Pastor Jean-Francois Denis.

Many unsuspecting Christians are vulnerable to following QAnon because the interpretation of the conspiracy theories can be similar to their beliefs and interpretations of the Bible.

In the USA, there are many fundamentalist Christians. Some fundamentalist Christians believe that everything written in the bible is factual and true. Many still believe in concepts like creationism, which has since been proven incorrect by scientific evidence that supports the theory of evolution.

In this current pandemic, some fundamentalist Christians support QAnon’s theories, which, like their own religious beliefs, are contrary to what is proven by science.

Why would Christians start believing in science at a time like this where their lives have been turned upside down and everything is so uncertain?

In a word, comfort.

By maintaining their beliefs in spite of scientific evidence, they gain comfort in these turbulent times. It’s easier to adhere to a narrative like QAnon, which promotes unproven theories that they assume are correct. Based on their interpretations, some even believe the Bible predicted COVID-19.

In one of his videos, Denis stated to “Never let anyone take away your right to question things, be critical, and find the truth.”

Although critical thinking is good, and we shouldn’t always believe everything we hear or read when it comes to public health… wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay home!


Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab


Mandatory mask laws: Make caring about people normal again

Hot take: Public health has no place in identity politics, and comparing public health measures to the Holocaust won’t prove your point.

Since early March, when the WHO officially declared the novel coronavirus disease a pandemic, public opinion evolved drastically. Most notably, the issue has found its way into identity politics.

Leonard Cohen best said it: “There is a war between the ones who say there is a war, and the ones who say there isn’t.”

At this point in time, we’re somehow in dispute about whether there is a virus, and whether that virus is as dangerous as our government and health officials say it is. To that end, we’re in dispute about the unprecedented measures our government is taking to protect the health of its citizens by balancing the health of the economy and the health of the people.

Here’s a hot take: mandatory mask laws are actually not political, they’re medical. A mandatory mask regulation is not the mark of a political coup. It’s akin to banning smoking indoors or a “No shoes, no service” sign.

Meanwhile, our economic system continues to plunder the lower classes of our society, pushing them to more and more dire living conditions, while the elite few make a casual $8 billion earnings in one day.

It comes as no surprise that, with such a disparity in wealth ever growing, discouraged people experiencing exploitation are at their wits end, and are not about to take one more assault on their liberty. In this cultural landscape, I understand that a mandatory mask is just one more thing you have to do, while you risk your life in order to afford your life. But it’s also a low hanging fruit, and it doesn’t reach the actual issue at hand.

Compounded with a government that’s inconsistently transparent, and cases continuing to climb in Quebec, it really does feel like our democracy is in crisis.

We, like Nelly, have a dilemma, and it’s getting undermined when we centre mask regulations as a human rights violation.

Despite what the old man yelling at the clouds would have you believe, it is incomparable to relate mandatory masks with the forced branding of Jewish people during the Holocaust. It also acts to undermine a very real issue in our society by misplacing the focus of people’s fears.

I first noticed this comparison in June during the internationally covered Palm Beach County commission meeting on a mandatory mask order.

At this meeting, one resident, Theresa Roberts said, “I’m also the daughter of somebody who lived through Germany. I know a lot of stories. And this is sounding very familiar to me. You’re forcing people to wear masks. They were forced to wear a star.”

Another resident and Republican candidate for Congress, Reba Sherrill, said at the meeting, “Discriminating against certain groups of people while exempting others is a violation of our civil rights. Following World War II, we Jews said ‘Never again.’” She continued, “We were forced to wear a gold star. Told to get [in] a box car to be taken to a safe place. In reality, what happened?”

I know there is a lot of fear, especially for people in the Jewish community. Throughout history, Jewish people trying to assimilate to new societies have been met with violence, and I understand that the fear of history repeating itself is very real. We also lose credibility when we make leaps like this.

We have genuine cause for concern about the safety, privacy, and freedom of people in North America. In Quebec, the Legault government passed a law that entitles police officers to obtain search warrants via the telephone, enabling quick legal access to private residences, for the intended purpose of enforcing COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

In my opinion, this law poses greater issues for human rights violations and discriminatory policing than a mandatory mask law. We have to be smart about where we cast our attention and criticism.

“There is a war between the ones who say there is a war, and the ones who say there isn’t.” Lately, I wonder whether there is a war between those of us who say chaos is a conduit of war and those who say a mask is.


Feature graphic by Taylor Reddam


Can Justice Ginsburg RIP?

Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last week and, in a recent discovery, the internet has no patience for human grief.

Do political figures deserve peace in death?

They gave up a lot to acquire the power they wielded in life. Many sacrifice their families, their retirements, their privacy. After their death, the consequences of their actions live on — in legislature, public opinion and history books. Do public figures, especially those in politics, get to rest in peace?

This conversation, most recently stoked by the passing of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is a heavy dispute shaping the landscape of our collective values and standards.

Does Ginsburg deserve a quiet, private passing, despite the public and political consequences of her death? Since her passing last Friday, with her public and personal life on display, the progressive-leaning corners of the internet have taken to criticizing Ginsburg’s policies and values, and her impact on society and law. That must be nice for her family in mourning.

It is important to critically assess the decisions made by those in power. It is important to celebrate successes and openly discuss failures. In life and in death, our policymakers weave the fabric of our society, and it is our duty to use our right to think and speak freely.

With this in mind, our society also has customs, and our customs guide our collective moral compass, behavioural norms and cultural taboos. We have undressed a lot of customs over the last century and determined that some no longer serve us, and we have fortified others that remain relevant today.

In death, people of the Jewish faith have a custom called “sitting shiva,” shiva meaning seven in Hebrew. Sitting shiva is when the intimate family of the deceased mourn their loss over seven days by inviting loved ones and mourners to their home to fortify community and support throughout their grieving process. It is a time to come together. It is a time to lay loved ones to rest.

It’s barely been a week since Ginsburg’s passing. Those closest to Ginsburg, who was Jewish herself, have not yet concluded the tradition of shiva. Meanwhile, Ginsburg’s work and legacy are in violent dispute. Can people have a moment to grieve?

Ginsburg was not perfect, and should not be deified — nobody should be. I find it distressing that we have two options for celebrities in our society: hero or villain, us or them, perfect or disgraceful. Neither life nor people have to be absolute and binary.

Beyond that, singular thinking like this hinders connection, productivity, and mobilization, which are major factors in democracy’s inefficiency. Why is Ginsburg, after a career championing women’s rights, in death labeled the image of “white feminism?” Can’t those who support gender equality bridge the gaps between our differing visions, and celebrate the victories when we do reach them?

We spend so much time arguing amongst ourselves how to accomplish gender equality that we create more obstacles for the movement.  Ginsburg made many mistakes, such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline crossing the Appalachian Trail, located in Virginia, that she voted to pass. She also made a lot of progress. Can’t we talk about, during this week of mourning, all of the beautiful ways she contributed to the gender equality movement?

This idea is not about censorship. It is the custom of North American society, and the custom of Jewish society, and I believe it serves our society today. It is a question of dignity to allow Ginsburg’s grieving family to celebrate and love her in peace.

I want to hold hands. In her long career as a lawyer, and member of the Supreme Court Justice of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was instrumental in passing laws that support abortion rights, same sex marriage rights, prevent gender and reproductive discrimination in the workplace, include women in jury duty, ensure equality with social security and tax exemptions, enable those assigned female at birth (afab) to own credit cards and take out mortgages — the list goes on.

While notorious for her guts, her grind, and her relentlessness, RBG does not deserve to be deified. Her family deserves a week of mourning. Her critics deserve a chance to reflect on her complicated legacy. Her supporters deserve a chance to learn more about her shortcomings. Ruth Bader Ginsburg deserves to rest in peace.


Graphic by Taylor Reddam


Poli SAVVY: Is pushing for traditional values in a modern world the way to leadership?

BREAKING NEWS: There are still entitled men in politics.

On one side, we have potential Conservative candidate for the leadership, Richard Décarie who, during an interview with CTVs Power Play on Wednesday, said “LGBTQ” “is a Liberal term” and that being gay “is a choice.” He then said Canadians must encourage traditional values that have served us in the past, encouraging the defunding of abortion services and reinforcing the idea that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Then, on Friday, not too far from us, Trump became the first U.S. President to walk in the largest annual anti-abortion rally, the 47th March for Life in Washington.

I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was the 18th century?

While Trump’s decision might actually help him win the 2020 election, as a big part of his electoral voters are evangelical Christians who stand firmly against abortion, a Pew Research Centre survey conducted in the summer revealed that 61 per cent of Americans believe abortion should be legal and are concerned that some states are making it hard to access.

And over here, Décarie just gave a quick crash course on “how to lose an election in Canada.”

Federal elections have displayed over and over again that the Conservatives’ weak spots are their social values being out of tune with Canadian ones. More recently, Scheer’s stance on such topics hasn’t quite helped him win voters––au contraire.

A few Tories, such as frontrunner for leadership Peter Mackay, were quick to denounce the comments on Twitter. Still, Décarie’s reductive and ignorant remarks highlight exactly how replacing Scheer won’t necessarily erase the mentality that runs deep within the Conservative Party. Last October, in a post-election analysis, the co-founder of the anti-abortion group RightNow, Alissa Golob, proudly said they were able to elect at least 68 “pro-lifers” out of the 121 current members of the Conservative caucus.

What’s that expression again? Beware of who’s pulling the strings. 


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Poli SAVVY: Petty high school gossip or world leaders making fun of Trump?

Well, Christmas has come a bit early this year, thanks to Saturday Night Live!

Anything with Paul Rudd, really anything, feels like a gift from Santa. Over the weekend, the late-night comedy show produced a skit portraying the world leaders as cool kids teasing the black sheep of the gang, U.S. President Trump.

While Paul Rudd was impersonating a bad boy-version of French President Emmanuel Macron, Jimmy Fallon took the role of an over-apologetic Justin Trudeau and James Corden was U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The skit was a recollection of a conversation from the NATO summit that took place a week ago at Buckingham Palace, in London. Trudeau was caught on hot mic by a CBC producer venting to the other leaders about Trump’s lengthy 40-minute press conference from earlier that day.

As much as the skit was delicious to watch, some people were quick to point out that such comments could hurt the Canada-U.S. relationship. “At a time when Canada needs strong relationships more than ever, Justin Trudeau’s poor judgment, lack of professionalism and love of drama continues to weaken Canada’s position on the world stage. We saw this just yesterday at the NATO Summit,” said Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer on Parliament Hill.

You might wonder what all the fuss is if the entire world is already laughing at the guy…

Even the U.S. president’s leading political rival, Joe Biden, used the footage of Trudeau’s comments for one of his Democratic Party’s presidential nomination ads on Twitter. The post read “The world is laughing at President Trump.”

Does this give a free card for bullying? No. Will it affect Canada’s relationship with America? Well, I would hope that this precious relationship is strong enough to survive high school gossip, Andrew.


Graphic by Victoria Blair


Musical influence in politics

Have you watched the Spanish hit series Casa de Papel? Although it’s about a robbery, the main theme in the show is a collective and bold revolution against the enemy of humanity: capitalism.

In one of the last episodes of season one, El Professor, the mastermind behind the greatest heist of all time, sat sipping a glass of wine with Berlin, one of the robbers. Agitated, anxious and trembling, El Professor looked terrified. Berlin then got up, grabbed his glass of wine, and sang:

Una mattina mi son svegliato

O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao! 

The marxist revolutionary chant was a theme song throughout the series, inciting this rebellious feeling inside every listener. El Professor soon began singing with Berlin, the look of fear turned into determination and excitement. That’s the role of sound in politics.

And just like everything in this world, with a negative influencer comes a negative influence.

It’s no secret that I see the President of the United States as the epitome of a negative influencer. Whatever positive economic advantage people might bring up, in my opinion, it does not make up for the fundamental moral wrongs he brings out in the world. For one, since his election, there has been a universal rise in the far right, or the populists as reporter Simon Shuster wrote in Time Magazine

How did Donald Trump gain so much influence when he’s a businessman who was once part of a reality show? It wasn’t his eccentric character and lack of formidable vocabulary. It wasn’t his white, rich man charm. It wasn’t even his blatant racism and sexism, although that did play a role in making already-racist people feel comfortable being so. No, it was the subconscious manipulation of people during his rallies — the use of music.

According to an article in the Washington Post, people don’t really talk during these rallies; they’re too busy listening to the music. Trump’s playlist since 2016 included the likes of Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, and Journey. All rock, folky, 60s-reminiscent vibes. You might enjoy them as well, naturally. It’s good music.

But these are methodically picked to bring back the nostalgia of what it meant to be an American in the 60s. “Make America Great Again” is Trump’s slogan and his choice of music is meant to take people back to the time when America was great, in his opinion.

The 1960s was the decade of civil rights movements, when things began to fundamentally change. Blasting the greatest songs of that time while talking about building a wall and grabbing pussies connects the great feelings these songs bring with those words; they become one and the same. This is a theory called the Hebbian Rule, by neuropsychologist Donald Hebb.

“Neurons that fire together, wire together,” Hebb wrote in 1949.

Now, remember this is my opinion, although I am stating some hardly refutable ideas. It’s a natural reaction in people to associate feelings with a song they’re listening to, like a newlywed’s first dance and love, or the song you first had sex to and feelings of longing.

Trump vows to build a wall to detain ‘illegal immigrants’ while Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” plays in the background; it’s an inspiring song and what people are being inspired to in this context is racism.

In 2016, The Rolling Stones issued a statement demanding that the Trump administration not use their music. In fact, according to the BBC, Neil Young, Adele, Aerosmith, among others, were all against the use of their music at Trump’s rallies.

If Trump were a song he’d be the melody people sway to, and his beliefs would be the lyrics they sing along to as if it were their own.


Graphics by @sundaeghost


Is Democracy Obsolete?

The Democracy Index Study 2016 stated that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. And yet, as Rosa Drucker, a member of American Jewish group IfNotNow, mentioned during a press conference, Palestinians are denied proper medical care, education, economic opportunity, and freedom of movement.

There’s another name for this selective democracy; it’s called systemic discrimination. That is what resulted in Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib being banned from entering Israel on a diplomatic visit.

“What we saw this week demonstrates Israel’s desperation to hide the realities of the occupation from us,” said Drucker. I mention this because it’s important to note that Anti-Semitism – despite the right’s incessant attempt to convince itsel – is not the same as being against the inhumanity shown by Israel to Palestine.

“I’ve never seen anyone who has gone and seen for themselves, and not be transformed by that experience,” said journalist Peter Beinart in an interview on CNN. Beinart also preaches at his synagogue and is a highly devoted Jew who has been to Israel, and seen Palestine.

Omar and Tlaib’s visit was organised by the Palestinian group called Miftah, whose leader is Hanan Ashrawi, a politician who once delegated Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. According to Ruth Margalit in The New Yorker, Miftah has previously shown disdain towards Israel. It’s understandable why the government felt uneasy about the visit.

Margalit also stated that Israel passed a law in 2017 that allows the government to refuse admittance to people who support the boycotting of the state. Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, told The New Yorker it was a moral stance, and the government had no choice but to ban the congresswomen. However, opposing leaders in the state pointed out that the interior minister has the right to make exceptions.

“A democratic country can’t deny entry to elected officials of a friendly democracy,” said Tamar Zandberg, of the leftist Meretz Party, in a statement.

The point that should be stressed here is that the law has rarely, if ever, been used against Americans. It shows that the Israeli state doesn’t really see the American in Omar and Tlaib. Sound familiar? American Palestinians, such as Tlaib’s family, have been put through agonising treatment with several check-points which other Americans don’t undergo. Tlaib recalled in her speech at the press conference, the humiliation her parents went through when she was younger. Treating someone differently because of their ethnicity, despite equal citizenship and rights, is racist.

Even though the visit was organised by Miftah, Omar and Tlaib were supposed to meet with Aida Touma-Sliman, a representative of the Joint List, a political alliance between the main Arab-dominated Parties in Israel— Balad, Hadash, Ta’al, and United Arab List. The Joint List does not support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (B.D.S) movement.

The trip was titled “Delegation to Palestine,” and it was a call to the state for transparency on their treatment of Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu stated there would be no meeting with members of the Israeli Parliament as a reason for his decision on the ban. In that case, shouldn’t all democratic visits who have previously only met with one side also be forced to meet with both? Or is this just another attempt at having control over what is seen and what isn’t?

Margalit wrote in her article in The New Yorker about meeting with Touma-Sliman; she was supposed to “draw parallels between the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians and its own Arab citizens and President Trump’s treatment of immigrants.”

This visit would have shone the light on infringements of international human rights. Those raging about ICE and the situation in the U.S. should be aware of the similarities in Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

When Israel gave Tlaib permission to enter the state under humanitarian pretences, she refused because of all the restrictions— restrictions that involved going against her moral beliefs. Unable to see her grandmother, unable to see Palestine, unable to expose atrocities; that’s the agenda.

Some challenged Tlaib’s genuine regret in not being able to see her grandmother, stating that had she really wanted to see her, she would’ve abided by the restrictions set by the Israeli government. Tlaib’s response was simple. A Tweet. A quote from Desmond Tutu:
“I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.” Israel doesn’t even have appetizers for Palestinians, and that is no mere opinion.

There is a reason all these opposing voices are dubbed terrorists or anti-semitic without a second thought. History is written by the victors, and, so far, those who haven’t seen believe self-proclaimed heroes. This is a worldwide story, where discrimination, racism, and political gain are the major themes — the only difference is that some characters look like you, while others look like me.


Graphic by Victoria Blair


World in Brief

The Amazon forest has been burning for the past four weeks at an alarming speed. In July only, areas of the forest were being cleared at a rate of five football fields a minute according to The Guardian. While there is only a portion of the forest on fire, experts estimate that 2019 might be the most destructive year for the Amazon in 10 years.

Tension rises as two drones crashed in Beirut’s southern suburb on Sunday, according to Reuters. While Israel has not claimed responsibility for the drone strikes, Lebanese president Michel Aoun claims the attack as “a declaration of war.” The Hezbollah also warned Israeli soldiers at the border to await a response.

President Donald Trump proposed nuking hurricanes before they made landfall in an attempt to neutralize the storms. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggest the results would be “devastating,” according to the BBC. “Radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas,” said the NOAA. Trump denied making this proposition in a Tweet.

Chemists will be gathering in San Diego this week to present latest research on chocolate and cannabis. According to new research, chocolate’s properties can throw off potency tests, leading to inaccurate labeling in states where marijuana is legal, according to the Associated Press. Chocolate edibles may contain a way bigger dose of THC than their label, sometimes sending consumers into unexpected trips.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Trump wins gold in Mexico

The New York magnate cleared the imaginary wall to take home the imaginary gold

The wall dividing the United States and Mexico is, as of yet, unbuilt. But that didn’t stop Donald Trump from winning the gold medal in the realm of political gymnastics.

While Trump discussed building this wall with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, when the two met last week, he soared clear of one petty pecuniary part: who would pay for it.

“We did discuss the wall,” Trump told reporters in a Q&A session following his private talk with Peña Nieto. “We didn’t discuss payment of the wall. That’ll be for a later date.” However, Peña Nieto later tweeted that he did make it clear to Trump at the beginning of the conversation: Mexico would not pay for the wall.

Given that the wall is estimated to cost between $15 and $25 billion, as reported by The Washington Post, deciding who’s going to pay for it is a little more serious than deciding who’s going to pay for the first date – we’re settled on ‘you ask, you pay,’ though – right Donald?

While it’s still uncertain who will pay the bill, one thing is certain: Trump may one day be president.

And as president of the self-proclaimed “freest nation in the world,” Trump must lead by example.

In theory, he should be building society up by tearing down the walls that divide us. However, his behaviour so far, mired in the past, seems more insistent on taking us all two steps back.

If anyone should be taking two steps back, it’s Trump himself so that he can learn from past president and Republican favourite, Ronald Reagan.

On June 12, 1987, Reagan stood in front of the Berlin Wall and delivered a speech that torched the pages of history. He called on Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, to tear down the wall dividing East and West Berlin. “If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, … if you seek liberalization, Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate,” he said. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Today, Trump’s turn away from Reagan’s anti-wall politics would make the 40th president turn over in his grave.

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