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May 14, 2021

We Must Retire Don Young, and Here’s Why

I was about 10 when I heard a sermon I will never forget. The speaker that day drew a few gasps from the congregation of the Homer Christian Church when he disagreed with a passage from the Bible.

He quoted from 1 Corinthians, Ch. 13, the passage you often hear at weddings: “Faith, Hope and Love, the greatest of these is love.”

“That’s not true,” he said. “The greatest of these is hope.”

He explained that his father had committed suicide. There was no shortage of love in their family. His father had simply lost hope that the pain of his illness would ever be alleviated. It was too much to bear.

Too bad Congressman Don Young wasn’t sitting next to me that day almost 35 years ago.

This past week, our 81-year-old congressman addressed a group of high school students in Wasilla. Just days earlier, a Wasilla student had taken his own life. It’s heartbreaking to know that statistically Young could have gone to any high school in Alaska and run into a grieving student body. Ours is the highest rate of suicide in the nation.

In response to a general question about the problem of suicide, Young callously opined that suicide victims lack support from friends and family. When a student — a friend of the deceased teen — said that wasn’t true, Don Young took offense, because he had been “talked back to.” The student dared to tell the congressman the suicide was prompted by “depression — you know, a mental illness.”

To which Young quipped: “Well, what, do you just go to the doctor and get diagnosed with suicide?”

When the principal explained to Young that the student was a friend of the deceased, the congressman responded, “That boy needs to learn some respect.”

Really, Don? Who the hell do you think you are? What have you done in that teen’s lifetime that would merit his respect? Is it the fact that you’re so unethical that even your own party won’t trust you with a committee chairmanship or leadership position? Is it because you so regularly embarrass all Alaskans with racial slurs, profanity in the most inappropriate circumstances, bigoted comments toward LGBT citizens or making clown faces during discussions of dead American soldiers? And that’s just the stuff you’ve done recently.

Too many Alaskans are too familiar with our suicide rate. To have our half-lit-bulb of a representative blame the families and friends of suicide victims is just sickening. Everyone involved in these tragedies is a victim.

While school administrators, teachers and parents at Wasilla High School try to help students through their grief, Don Young shows up to callously tell them it’s their fault, and to demand respect when he deserves condemnation.

When asked later about his comments at the school, Young doubled down. He went further down the looney trail by saying suicide in Alaska didn’t exist before “government largesse” gave residents an “entitlement mentality.” That comment seemed particularly aimed at Alaska Natives, who have suffered some of highest suicide rates and are often attacked by our local racists for the government services they receive.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is endorsing Young for re-election. She asked him to say he was sorry. In a Facebook post, she said her constituents were asking what she made of Young’s remarks. “Words matter,” she said.

Agreed. And so do actions. Like making sure every American has access to mental health care. (I guess I must have an “entitlement mentality.”) Young is opposed to that.

Don Young has been a congressman since I was 3 years old. I never minded that he tops the most absent member of Congress lists because I rarely agree with how he votes. What I’m tired of is how he treats us. That he doesn’t seem to care about anything but himself. That he has the audacity to blame suicide on survivors and welfare and has no idea that too often it is because people have run out of hope for their own lives.

If we weren’t just days from the election, I doubt we’d have heard Don Young’s “apology” at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention for being insensitive. See, the last few days had been hard on him, he explained. Yeah, Congressman, I’m sure you have the thoughts and prayers from families who are surviving suicides. Making himself a victim of his own words widens his disconnect from what people dealing with the pain of suicide are dealing with.

Maybe this will be the year when Alaskans finally say enough is enough. Then Don Young can retire into a well-earned position of obscurity. Out to pasture with the bulls he’s so fond of talking about.

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Comments
13 Responses to “We Must Retire Don Young, and Here’s Why”
  1. Hi, for a while now I’ve been trying to get people in Alaska to notice that Shannyn Moore was probably correct and that the 2008 election results in Alaska were fraudulent, but it’s been an uphill battle against my Asperger’s Syndrome, which keeps me from articulating the my case clearly and succinctly in emails or phone calls.

    More to the point it’s likely that the electoral fraud was ordered by Sarah Palin and the threat of this being revealed in 2009 precipitated her resignation. This is relevant because Don Young likely would have lost to Ethan Berkowitz in 2008 in a fairly counted election.

    I’ve prepared this blog/Youtube Channel laying out my evidence, and am now passing it around to all the Progressive/Political AK bloggers I can find.

    http://electoralfraudinalaska2008.wordpress.com

    I hope you’ll look at it carefully and consider sharing on your blog. The case is complex and technical, but you can get by by watching/reading Introduction, Evidence 3 and maybe 4, and the first Conclusion video/blog post.

    Hope you find the info interesting,

    John Foelster

  2. Mag the Mick says:

    Looking at this now as an outsider, I’m seeing that several Alaska folk-histories or “myths”, if you will, are colliding now. Don Young represents, to many people, “the real Alaska”, “one of us”. His myth is that he came out of a rugged, bush village where he taught school (and was a horrible teacher, by real accounts), and brought his rural roots and strengths to the greater stage of state and then federal politics. He represents that myth (and it is one) of the rugged, old sourdough; rough and profane, but he Understands Natives and rural people, and “Alaska”. everyone wants a Real Alaskan. Real Alaskans get it. They’re special. You can trust them more than outsiders. You saw the same myth at play with Sarah Palin. The “Real Alaskan” card trumped anything else. The reality is, Alaska has been an urbanized place at least as early as the 20’s and 30’s. New arrivals, new technologies, new ideas are what have kept the state alive. But now the second myth is taking over, one of Big Money, Big Oil, and Big Influence. Old politicians like Ted Stevens and Don Young were always part of the big money crowd, but as long as they maintained their “Real Alaska” façade, they were elected time and time again. Parnell, Sullivan, and Company are a newer, much less attractive crowd. They don’t have to wear the Old Sourdough mask. They are technocrats, plutocrats, and all they share with their predecessors is the “Republican” brand. And apparently, that’s enough.

    • Mo says:

      The irony, of course, being that an actual Native American doesn’t quite make it in the Republican mind as being a “Real Alaskan.”

    • Dave Allison says:

      Please do not compare Young, Parnell, Sullivan or Palin with former senator Ted Stevens. He had his blind spots but he was one of the Republicans who really did care about Alaskans first for most of his time in politics. He fought for the fishermen, the fisheries, rural Alaskans and Alaska native people for decades. The folks like Young and Parnell are dedicated to themselves and their corporate sponsors.

      Young dreamed for years of being as significant as Stevens. He failed over and over. He pretended he was qualified at the same time he made outsiders believe that he was representative of all Alaskans. He was an embarrassment to all current and past Alaskans for decades. Finally all of his sick chickens are coming home to roost. It is long past time for him to be removed.

  3. Mo says:

    Don Young: a living, breathing example of the utter ineffectiveness of Republican congress members when it comes to governing, but who are so supremely effective when it comes to maintaining their sinecures.

    What’s wrong the Congress? Creeps like Don Young.

    What’s wrong with America? Creeps who elect creeps like Don Young.

  4. Zyxomma says:

    I marvel at Don Young’s longevity as Alaska’s sole Congressman. How does this keep happening? How is he allowed, again and again, the privilege of representing people in a great state? Is it because his name is so easy to remember?

    I love Alaskans, and know quite a few. You’re an intelligent, self-sufficient, nature-loving group. Who is casting votes for DY?

  5. Beaglemom says:

    I don’t live in Alaska but I’m tired of knowing that some of my federal tax dollars are going to Don Young’s salary and benefit package. Please do the entire country a service and retire this man.

  6. mudkitten says:

    It was time to retire Don Young a loooooooonnng time ago. I am wary of getting my hopes up, but if he’s pissed off the Natives, it could actually happen.

  7. mike from iowa says:

    Pretty sure Young’s “golden parachute” gubmint retirement program and healthcare for life won’t shower the respect upon him he feels “entitled” to.

  8. Really? says:

    Thank you Shannyn. The “apology” attempt was given at the wrong venue. If he really wanted to try giving an apology, he should have given it to the Wasilla High School directly. Oh, wait, most of the high school students are not old enough to vote. Lisa is right “words matter”. And I HOPE the students at the Wasilla High School are offered counseling to deal with bigots and some of the horrible things some people say about the death of fellow students.

    • mike from iowa says:

      If the School of the Americas was still operating,training Central and South American military officers to become savage,America friendly dictators in their home nations,I bet they would be glad to have Young as their commencement speaker. He seems to have the proper mindset to sic people on their own citizens.

    • aussiebluesky says:

      The students of Wasilla High School handled themselves brilliantly. Where a student saw his fellow students being misinformed by a political candidate he stood up and said so.

      The tragedy is that someone like Young, with a long record of bad manners, bad behavior and aggression in public, was invited to address students in the first place. It’s not like his politics are unknown or new or interesting.

      I’m sure they’d much rather have met Forrest Dunbar.

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