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July 23, 2018

The History of Alaska is Liberal

I have to say, it’s often a wonderful thing to have folks quote lines back to me that I’ve written in this paper. It seems most often they are quips or parables from Pop Moore, but sometime they are little turns of phrase that come back to me. It’s a nice confirmation that you, dear reader, take some of this beyond your Sunday morning coffee time.

A particular line from a columnist that ran last week has been stuck in my head, but not in a good way.

I don’t remember much else about the column, other than the writer has a liberal friend who he thinks is defective.

Oh, I thought of lots of snarky responses. You know, like if liberalism was a defect that could be detected in the first trimester of pregnancy, you’d be damn sure the conservatives would put it as a caveat in their list of exceptions to an abortion ban.  “Incest, Rape, Life of the Mother, and, it’s a Liberal!” Oh, but you don’t have to look further than Ronald Reagan’s kids to know conservatism isn’t passed on. (The one conservative Reagan is adopted. See, it doesn’t work.) Goodness sakes! Is this genetic condition covered or will it have to be considered a pre-existing condition?

It’s bugging me. I’m a liberal. I assure you it isn’t genetic, but may have to do with reading all those red words during Mr. Harris’ Sunday school class. Just a guess.

I know I should feel like an endangered species in Alaska, but I don’t. I know what principles and beliefs have worked here for years, and I know that I stand on many shoulders.

In 1922, a Tlingit Chief, Charlie Jones, was jailed for voting. His protest gave way to Alaska Natives getting the right to vote two years before Native Americans. In 1944, years before the civil rights movement in the states, Alberta Schenck, a Native woman, refused to budge from her seat in the “Whites Only” section of a movie theater in Nome. She was dragged out and jailed. Schenck was Alaska’s Rosa Parks. Because of her bravery and the moving testimony of Elizabeth Peratrovich, on Feb. 16, 1945, Territorial Gov. Ernest Gruening signed an anti-discrimination law. Against the argument that the law would not eliminate discrimination, Peratrovich said, “Do your laws against larceny and even murder eliminate those crimes?”

 The liberal history of Alaska is constantly buried under “new” waves of oil workers and rapture watchers. McChurches promise to Super Size your Jesus. Too many preachers haven’t noticed the miracle of “curing a gay guy” wasn’t mentioned in the works of Christ.

Alaska women aren’t all waltzing around with “the bigger the hair the closer to God” up-do, lining up to live the American dream of buying flag lapel pins and sequined “I Heart America” T-shirts made by un-aborted children in China while they punctuate their purchase with a personalized credit card owned by a company in Abu Dhabi. The men drive by in the newest “Ford Compensator 350,” towing a trailer loaded with ATVs; Rush Limbaugh blares when the Lee Greenwood CD gets too teary; something about “Where at least I know I’m free.” Yellow ribbon magnets claim to support the troops, the same troops who are fighting to make sure the gallon of gas moving him all of 9.4 miles stays cheaper than a latte.

Our first senators were feisty liberals. Bob Bartlett wrote the original legislation for what would become the Americans With Disabilities Act. Ernest Gruening authored what became our nationwide 911 emergency telephone service. How many lives have been saved because of their leanings? Mike Gravel was our senator drumming the Washington, D.C., Democrats into voting for the trans-Alaska pipeline. Oh, my! A Liberal? Yes. It wouldn’t have passed when it did if it weren’t for him.

There are liberals — and conservatives — buried in Arlington who give me and others the right to have our opinions regardless of if you agree with them or not. That isn’t lost on me, and I am grateful.

As Stephen Colbert says, “It is a well-known fact that reality has a liberal bias.”

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