Harper and the AIDS Conference
Over the course of the past week, the PM has taken a ton of heat for going up North to help launch Operation Landcaster instead of appearing at the World AIDS Conference in Toronto. Even Devin, the blond emo VJ at MuchMusic, has taken a shot at "your Prime Minister" for not being there. There's been the gamut of comments, everything from Harper's a homophobic to Harper's afraid he'll get it from being around the gay people with it, and on and on. Amidst all the sound and fury but little action, I've seen only a couple of comments that really mean something. One is from Jason Bo Green, who launched into a tirade (the good kind) that criticized people on all sides of the spectrum for making a cheap political ploy out of Harper's decision. The comment is awesome, and can be read here (do a Crtl+F and search for his name, or just scroll down).
I'm not particularly interested in playing political games over this topic because it is one that is truly horrific in its scale and scope of causing human suffering. Instead of focusing on the real issue--the millions of people who are dying and for whom HIV/AIDS is still a death sentence--we're splitting hairs over where Stephen Harper was last weekend. How many people making the accusations at Harper have *done* something to help fight the scourge of AIDS? As JBG raised in his comment, how many people know anything about the disease beyond the ways in which it can be contracted?
I've largely stayed out of the discussion because, frankly, I know very little about the disease. What I know about HIV/AIDS could fill maybe a single-spaced, single page. And I haven't walked the talk, either. Not being in possession of large amounts of money, I haven't been able to make more than a token donation when the jar is put out. But I'll tell you this much: I find it really disgusting that people are trying to score political points at the expense of people's lives. In places such as the Congo, women and children are being raped en masse by soldiers who have AIDS, and nobody is doing anything to stop it. Indeed, people are barely speaking about it. I ask, what is more deserving of attention and opprobrium: Stephen Harper not being at an AIDS Conference, or women & children being systemically raped by those who seek to use AIDS as a weapon to spread intimidation, death, and horror?