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Friday, 19 April 2013

Why I'm So Nosy About American Political Goings-On

I had someone ask me a few weeks ago why I was bothering to state my opinions on what Americans were doing. I thought it was kind of a funny (and insulting) question, coming from an American, considering the United States keeps a very close eye on the goings-on of every country in the world that has any political or economic power whatsoever. Not only that, but the country does have a tendency to get involved both financially and with its military - usually asking Canada to ride alongside.

It also kind of seemed, well, not to put TOO fine a point on have an American basically tell me I should be minding my own business. The fact of the matter is, even the FBI has electronic fingers in Canada, which isn't something Canadians should be tolerating in any way, shape or form. We're a separate country, technically run by the British Empire. Where the hell does the FBI get off being allowed to use electronic surveillance on us? The "F" stands for "Federal". It is not the IBI, or International Bureau of Investigation. That's apparently what the CIA is supposed to be for.

I won't keep on that little rant at this time, as I'm planning an article on it in the near future, but the fact of the matter is the U. S. is all up in our business, yet someone found it necessary to tell me American goings-on were none of mine.

Okay, well, here's another point on that that I would like to make. The United States is arguably the most powerful nation in the world. Ergo, they hold sway over the rest of the world to at least some extent. Knowing what's going on down there just seems to be something an intelligent Canadian would do.

When Bill Clinton signed the bill that deregulated the financial industry, he arguably started a melt-down of the U. S. economy. It wasn't his intention, and even the top 'experts' in finance are only right half the time, but there's no getting around the fact that the bill was signed. When the American economy went to hell, it wasn't long afterwards that the Canadian economy did the same. They're inextricably intertwined. Americans buy our oil and our timber, and any number of other natural resources that we have. When Americans go broke and the big projects go bankrupt, Canadian products don't get exported. Our unemployment rates went through the roof when the American economy tanked.

When 9/11 happened, suddenly Canadian airports were forced to make major changes in order to appease our neighbours. More passengers were being searched (I was one of them, in fact), more documentation was required to cross the border, more technology was implemented to weed out potential terrorists, and more people had to be hired in customs and border patrol positions - paid for by the Canadian taxpayers, I might add.

When George W. Bush decided it would be a grand idea to invade Iraq to go after some oil for his daddy, Canadians were ostracized because they weren't stupid enough to go along with him, despite the fact that nobody else wanted to go with him either! Apparently we were suddenly best buddies that were supposed to lend a hand while he beat the crap out of some people (from a distance, of course), sort of like a man who holds a guy's arms so his friend can give him a good beating. We didn't believe there were WMDs there, any more than the rest of the world did. We might be considered a 'nice' country, but nice doesn't mean stupid and gullible. In fact, I'll be a complete cynic here and admit/postulate that it might even have had something to do with the fact that Americans buy Canadian oil. If they can't get it from Iraq, our prices presumably go up accordingly. I'm not saying that's true, but it could very well have been a consideration.

Those are just three quick examples of how Canadians are impacted by actions taken by the United States, so I'd say those are pretty good reasons to keep an eye on things down there, and express my opinion as I feel necessary.

Yet another reason I feel obliged to speak up is because there are many people in the U. S. that I care about. I have friends down there, co-workers, as well as colleagues. I'm a staff writer for an American-based magazine. I'm a contributor to an American-based online writing community. I produce a show for an American host who is based in Ohio, that is broadcast from a New Jersey-based station. I have friends that run animal shelters down there that I got to know through my advocacy work. In fact, almost all of the people I know are in the United States. If I didn't care what was happening in their lives, I wouldn't be any kind of a decent human being.

Another reason I stick my nose in is because I feel human rights are at stake. Human rights are not a national concern. They are a global concern. I just posted an article on female genital mutilation, which is a practice that takes place in Africa. Am I African? No. Do I feel it's my business? Abso-f-ing-lutely! Defenseless little girls are being tortured and killed by this barbaric practice. I'm a feminist. You do the math.

What human rights do I feel are being infringed on in the U. S.?? Well, sheesh, let me make a list for you:
  1. 90% of the population said they wanted to expand background check for gun ownership, but the senate decided they didn't care what the population wanted. That's tyranny and fascism in my book. It doesn't matter what your stance on gun control is, your government is supposed to be working for you! If 90% said they didn't want the extended checks, then that would be completely different.
  2. Equal pay for women hasn't happened yet - women make only 77% of what men do. I'm a feminist, so do the math.
  3. Women's reproductive rights are being stripped - nearly 700 new bills were put forth in the first quarter of 2013 to try to restrict women's right regarding these issue. I'm not just talking about abortion here. I'm talking about pharmacists being allowed to deny women birth control pills based on their own personal religious beliefs. Not all bills are being passed, of course, and some are being shut down because they violate the U. S. Constitution, but the damage is being done nonetheless.
  4. Girls are being gang raped and then slut-shamed & victim-blamed so badly that they're committing suicide. Yes, there was a big case in Canada, too, and guess what? Americans got involved! If I'm being nosy, does that make the caring Americans nosy, too?
  5. Marriage is unavailable to lesbians and gays. Religious groups are trying to take over legislation in the U. S., when the country specifically is supposed to have freedom of religion. We legalized it in Canada, federally, 8 years ago. Nothing bad happened. It's time to grow up and realize that everyone should have the same rights as everyone else. Just because you don't like Peppermint Schnapps does not mean you get to tell the rest of your country they can't have it.
  6. 26% of teens who come out as gay or lesbian to their parents are being instantly tossed out into the street. These are children. Their parents are legally and morally obliged to care for these children until they reach the age of majority. These parents are breaking the law. Of course, the punishment for not caring for your children is usually just having the children removed from the home, but having them put into foster care would be a hell of a lot better than where they end up, which is on the streets prostituting themselves just to stay alive. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen-year-old kids out there, performing sex acts on adults. That's pedophilia, folks. The 'johns' are pedophiles. Where is the outrage?
Those are just a few of the human rights violations that I see taking place right now in America. I'm not saying that they aren't happening elsewhere, because they are. They're happening in my country, too, and I want them fixed here just as much as I want them fixed in the U. S.

One small reason I have for wanting to know what's going on in America is a slight paranoia or cynicism I suppose. Maybe it's paranoia, and maybe it's not. I don't know. The fact is, I like to keep an eye on any country that's capable of taking over mine. The Canadian government very often falls in line with whatever the American government wants us to do, so I like to know what that might be. On the more extreme end of things, you're supposed keep your friends close and your enemies closer, so I like to be sure which ones are which. People turn on a dime, and so do countries.

The final big reason I'm being nosy is because I like to have a big-picture, world-view outlook. I think of humanity as simply humanity. Just because I don't live in Boston does not mean I don't feel for the bombing victims at the Marathon the other day. Just because I'm not Iraqi does not mean I don't want to know how people are doing over there, and what their culture is like. Being from a different country, and having the benefit of some distance from the internal politics of America, I have a little less bias on things. Sure, I have a personal slant, but I don't necessarily have a personal stake in any of it. Basically, I will have friends who will hopefully be allowed to get married one day, but it doesn't change whether or not I'm able to get married (if I were gay or lesbian, that is). That and the fact that I can't actually impact policy down there anyway. It's not like I can vote on American issues. The most I can do is talk about it with people, share my opinion, and hope that maybe I can help someone who needs it.

Every country in the world is inextricably intertwined. There's no getting around it. Our economies are impacted by everyone else's to at least some extent. Whether or not we go to war is dependent on other countries as well as our own. The world is a giant stage where we are all players, even if the roles are only bit parts. So, is it any of my business what Americans are doing? Damn straight it is! I'm not here on this planet to gossip about who is cheating on their spouse, for crying out loud. I've got more important things to worry about, and so do you!