Posted by: shannynmoore | September 27, 2009

Frankly, Sarah…I Don’t Give A Damn.

A letter from former, twice governor Wally Hickel ran in Sunday’s Anchorage Daily News.  I think it’s well worth a read. Hickel is the only other governor to quit (1966-1969). His resignation was to serve as the Secretary of the Interior under President Nixon.  He ran and won the governorship under the Alaska Independent Party from 1990–1994.

Wally Hickel is now 90 years old. A one time supporter of Sarah Palin, Hickel recently stated in Clark Gable style , “I don’t give a damn what she does.”

Alaskans can rise above petty politics, hateful acts


Both of my grandfathers left Southern Germany for America in the 1880s to escape what George Washington called in his Farewell Address “the toils of European ambition, rivalship and caprice.”

German was the first language I heard at home. This changed when my older sister Gertrude returned from her first day at school, where her classmates made fun of her broken English. From then on, I rarely heard a German word spoken at home.

My family and their relatives lived through the Dust Bowl in Kansas, the Great Depression, and two world wars when their new homeland fought against the land of their ancestors.

Some Americans today are uncomfortable with the changing face of America. Anger and frustration are invading our national discourse. I urge us all to study our roots.

America’s greatness is not in spite of our immigrants. It’s because of our immigrants.

We are a mongrel nation. We are not a thoroughbred. We’re not German or Irish, Hispanic or Asian, black or white, Christian or Jew. We are all those things and many more, and we don’t all get tired at once. That’s why America has always out-worked our competition.

During the presidential primaries last year, I liked what I saw in Barack Obama. I didn’t see him as black. I saw him as a young American with a deep understanding of what America was meant to be and how we could regain our moral standing in the world.

When Gov. Sarah Palin surprised us by joining Sen. John McCain on the Republican ticket, I agreed to support her, sticking to my commitment to put “Alaska first.” When she took the podium at the Republican National Convention, however, I was greatly disappointed. The race-against-race and class-against-class message of the McCain/Palin campaign was transparent.

I urged Sarah to take control of her message and appealed to her in this column “to rise above the worn-out, negative tactics of presidential politics and assume the role of stateswoman.” (Op Ed of September 14, 2008).

My hopes were dashed. Palin became the spokesperson for the divisive voices in American politics. She dismissed the greatness of our immigrant heritage, indeed of today’s Alaska, where in Anchorage alone nearly 100 languages are spoken in the homes of the children in our public schools.

She missed a golden opportunity to challenge the rest of the country to adopt the welcoming spirit of the Alaska frontier and the message of mutual respect championed by Bridge Builders of Anchorage and the School District that helped us win All-America City honors in 2002.

I believe that Alaska can be a model for America. We have much to offer, but we will fail if we don’t deal with prejudice, not only against newly arrived immigrants but against anyone.

My wife Ermalee, a lifelong Alaskan, and I were outraged several years ago when high school students videotaped Alaska Natives as they shot them with paintball guns, and again this summer when Anchorage teenagers attacked a man apparently for no reason other than he was Eskimo.

These hateful acts must be strongly dealt with and condemned. They are especially offensive in light of the remarkable leadership today’s Alaska Native community provides in business, politics and honoring cultural values.

When we represent Alaska to the rest of the country, let’s go beyond our stereotypes. Let’s explain that Alaska is a place of environmental excellence and spiritual renewal, a vast source of energy and resources, and a model for how commonly owned lands can benefit the people who live on them.

Let’s also make Alaska known for respect for all people and reject those who would use racial and class division for personal or political reasons. Because those who do so are playing with forces in the souls of men that could sink our country into that pit of conflict and violence George Washington warned us about more than 200 years ago.


  1. Thanks for this. I don’t look to ADN for much any more.

  2. This letter brought pride and anger to me. Pride in Alaska and this stateman and anger because Sarah Palin has smeared the Alaskan name and reputation time and time again.

    Thank you for writing this and thanks for sharing this with the world.

    To have Sarah Palin go and speak abroad and not want the press to cover what she says speaks loud and clear that this woman is hateful, self serving, and seeks to misguide for her own profit and goals.

    Meg Stapleton should be ashamed of being the door mat for this woman.

  3. A wonderful statement.
    It should be posted on every class room wall.

    We are the Melting Pot Nation. We are the Nation of new beginnings. We are the Nation that changed the meaning of Nation Hood. Our Founders redefined the meaning of “Freedom” for us and for the rest of the world.

    If we become just another Old World land of armed borders, another despotic kingdom then we have totally failed our own heritage.

    The 30 years war took out half the population of Europe, and they still did not learn what peace might bring them. Europe has finally realized the need for Unity – finally dealt with the reality of the destructiveness of warring princedoms.

    It didn’t take America 3000-4000 years to learn that lesson.
    Why do some Americans want to make us revert to divisiveness, prejudice, violence, murder and war?

  4. Ms. Palin not only smears the Alaskan name and reputation, but with her mis-guided and mis-informed words she also smears Americas name and reputation. What Ms. Palin says allows others to conduct themselves in a manner that is less than savory and then justify said actions by telling themselves that if Palin can do it, and tells us that it is okay to act like this, then it must be okay. Ms. Palin is one of the many people that show how truly divided this great nation is. Kudos to Mr. Hickel for this letter.

  5. Mr Hickel is a very wise man.

  6. I am one of America’s “brown persons,” specifically, African American, and I can say that the actions and words of Palin (and McCain’s endorsement of them) have hurt race relations in this country. It has caused not only disrespect for the president on a large scale, but has caused people who could once get along with each other to become hostile towards each other. I lived through segregation and the civil rights eras in America and see a lot of similarities between then and now. I am really hurt that things have come to this point. I taught high school social studies for 33 years until I retired this past May and know how the American political system is supposed to work, but Palin doesn’t. It’s obvious that she was willing to do anything to become VP, and this is a stain on all of us. She has no conscience when it comes to what she will do to win. I place the re-emergence of blatant disrespect for the president and the decline of race relations in America at the feet of Palin and McCain, which has been picked up by Fuchs Noose, the rw entertainers on the radio, and by the national politicians in the Republican Party. It is easy for them to dismiss evidence of their role in the fostering of racism because they are not members of the targeted group(s). I’m praying daily for the president’s protection and the healing of the nation because I truly feel that if the forces unleashed by the extremists elements on the right aren’t curbed, we’ll see an escalation of race related violence which could tear this country apart at its seams.

      let’s not talk about how the right wing extremists blatantly call themselves “Patriots”, attempting to “save” the country.
      And I agree 500%… Palin needs to be held accountable for much of this bigotry.

  7. Thank you, Shannyn, for reprinting this, and thank you, Governor Hickel, for sharing the hard-won wisdom of an elder. Sarah Palin may grow to be an old woman, but she will never be wise.

  8. Thankfully most Americans have more common sense than Palin/McCain. We as a people spoke loudly in the last Presidential election. We said yes we can instead of voting for hate and ignorance. I for one have faith in Alaskans and Americans that they can see through the hate of people like Palin and Linbaugh and Beck.
    I do not agree with everything the current President is doing. But it is our duty as Americans to try and make America a better place to live and work. Most who read these posts can obviously read, sadly that is not the case with many Americans. So what they do is believe what they are told in a blind mannor as fact. Like death panels, and Obama is not an American things like that. They go buy bullets by the case load, purchase guns they do not know how to use or need. I recall someone saying once “there is nothing to fear but fear itself”. This statement needs to be repeated in todays political arguments. But does it really matter? After all according to the Mayan calander the world ends on 12-21-2012. But like all things, one needs to read, do a little research, then come to a conclusion based on facts and not fiction. Will this ever happen in Alaska. I highly doubt that.

    • I thank all of you in Alaska: Shannon, Gov. Hickel, your wisdom is greatly admired and I send you good vibes from south Missouri. I greatly appreciate the independant spirit of Alaskans in general and although I physically cannot visit, I follow you on my iPhone-it is a wonder of wonders!

  9. Thank you Shannyn for posting Governor Hickel’s open letter to Sarah Palin. It is too bad for her and for us as a nation that she chose to ignore his advice. John McCain and Sarah Palin and a very large number of the GOP are responsible for the racial tensions simmering in this country. I am in total agreement with majii @6:08 am. If the forces are released which the Religious Right has been stoking, there is going to be race riots again that will tear this country apart. I too lived through the riots in the early 60’s and if people are naive enough to think it cannot happen again they are dead wrong.

    The only people in this country are the Native Americans, whether they are Native American Indians or Eskimos. We are all immigrants, and it is our diversity that has made us the great country that we are. We should be proud of that fact. I am praying that someone, ANYONE in the Republican Party has the courage to speak up now before the situation escalates and someone other than a Federal Census worker is killed.

  10. Thank you for your comments Mr. Hickel. They will have true credibility when Alaskan Republicans extend the same respect toward the Alaskan LGBT population.

  11. This is a wonderful commentary from Gov. Hickel and I admire his courage and grit to speak up forcefully and succinctly. He is right on the money, so to speak, regarding the damage Ms. Palin has done, and of the disheartening state of what we hope to call civil discourse in our country at this time. Thank you for posting these remarks.

  12. Shannyn,
    Thanks so much for coming all the way out to Wasilla for the Democratic candidates forum the other night. Many of us wanted to meet you afterward. I finally figured out how to bookmark you. You interviewed my wife a couple of times after her e-mail went viral last September. I know you are a friend of my Nephew, Soloman. Please keep up the good work. I am sorry that you were constrained to a non-partisan speech in Wasilla and realize it was sprung on you, but it was appropriate for the meeting.
    Pat Johnson

  13. Wise words comfort the soul. These don’t

  14. Can this be posted on Huffington Post?

  15. Hey Gov. Palins new book is coming out soon. “Going Rouge, An American life” Her next two book titles were released as well, “Hillbillies with money” and “My life after Meth”
    Sorry had to do it. LOL

  16. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Americans who agree with you are too quiet thus implying concurrence with Palin’s and others views on the far right. It is a comfort to know there are people like you willing to speak up for the good in this country and acknowledge the disservice Palin and others have done.

  17. Frankly, Sarah Palin is not smart enough to bring people together.

    Only the most ignorant try to divide people with vitriol and hate. We are all Americans and should behave like Americans.

    It’s unfortunate that too many forget that America is great precisely because among us are people who are different – and are allowed the freedom to be.

  18. God Bless Wally Hickel

  19. Found this a bit late, but thanks for posting it, Shannyn. Too bad the MSM hasn’t picked this up. Hickel explains this so well and so eloquently.

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