While I schlep through the pages of Going Rogue, I thought you may like to read my chapter in Going Rouge. You are not to worry, I have corks on my forks and have been training for what could be characterized as the Iditarod of Lies. Order Going Rouge HERE.
Letter from the Other Alaska
By Shannyn Moore
On the morning of John McCain’s announcement he had picked our governor, Sarah Palin, as his running mate and before she walked onto the national stage, Palin called in to the radio show I was on. “Today is a great day for Alaska and Alaskans,” she proclaimed. “You accepted?” was my response. I couldn’t believe it. There was an awkward silence. (Maybe she blinked.) But I would have said the same thing if she had been invited to do medical mission work repairing cleft palates in third world countries.
I have more in common in with Sarah Palin than most anyone I know. Raised in small town Alaska; both parents public school teachers; local pageants, state pageant, second runner-up and Miss Congeniality, respectively; hunting; commercial fishing; and a great pride in the independence and strength in being an Alaskan woman. We both know the comfort of ExtraTuf Boots and fishing gear. Part of me was proud and part of me knew she’d traded for a whole different set of heels. Heels I’d never be comfortable in.
“I have nothin’ to lose,” Palin told Rush Limbaugh weeks after John McCain nominated Governor Palin as his running mate. Palin’s statement was the most honest thing I’d heard her say. She had nothing to lose, and she didn’t. John McCain lost. The Republican Party lost. Alaska lost. But Sarah Palin didn’t lose.
Unlike Governors Clinton and Bush, Sarah wouldn’t relinquish her position to Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell. Alaska state business was taken over by Storm Trooper-like forces from the McCain campaign. To this day, political shrapnel is still surfacing.
More recently, Palin said about her upcoming and heavily discounted book , Going Rogue, “There have been so many things written and said through mainstream media that have not been accurate, and it will be nice through an unfiltered forum to get to speak truthfully about who we are and what we stand for and what Alaska is all about.” Who is “we?” How could Sarah Palin possibly know what “Alaska is all about?” No one can sum this place up; that’s what I love about it. We are too mavericky to have one voice define us.
But Sarah Palin stole Alaska’s voice. During the campaign, “She Doesn’t Speak For Me!” bumper stickers were seen more often than McCain-Palin stickers. Sarah Palin didn’t speak for all Alaskans, yet our mountains, oceans, culture, and wild things became props in her campaign.
The weeks after the election/rejection of Palin were intense. Many of my friends—those who had become like family to me—had worked tirelessly, for no money, and managed to get the truth to the mainstream media about our governor. Yes, we declared victory on election night, but we knew she was coming home, and she wasn’t happy about it. Neither were we.
Like it wasn’t bad enough, we’d been hearing loons talk about secession up here for years. In Alaska, the three top ballot seats—President, Senate and House of Representatives—have candidates on the ballot from the secessionist Alaska Independent Party. In two of the three, the AIP holds at least 4 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the felonious Ted Stevens had convinced over a hundred thousand Alaskans what he couldn’t convince 12 jurors of a few weeks before the election—i.e., his innocence.
Talking heads had the temerity to ask if it’s too late to sell Alaska back to the Russians. Repeatedly. America’s liberal boy-wonder, Keith Olbermann, was breaking up with us. Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, and various radio jocks suggested putting Alaska up on eBay. I could only handle one break up at a time.
I’m like many Alaskans, just not the one America had been forced to get to know during the election. I knew what newspapers I read. I knew that Africa is not a country. I knew Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada and I even knew which countries obviously comprised NAFTA—which I thought was a crock when it passed. My favorite birthday present in 2008 was the return of habeas corpus in a 5-4 US Supreme Court decision on June 12.
I was born in Alaska; Sarah Palin was not. I don’t have a “Fargo” accent that sounds like I make casseroles with leftover tater tots and mushroom soup. Numerous brilliant, artistic, articulate and cultured citizens call Alaska home. On November 4, 2008, many in the Lower 49 got to shake their shoes of our Governor. They slept easier. Gone were the train wreck fantasies that kept them up at night; the 3am phone call and she, a heart beat away from the “nukular” codes.
But for Alaskans, she was back, and we didn’t know what that would mean.
Progressive Alaskans had a target on their backs for speaking out about her archaic philosophies and faith-based policies. We waited for January’s 2009 Legislative Session to include a bill allowing the aerial hunting of the exotic, endangered species, “Alaskan Liberals.”
At the same time Palin was coming home, Alaska was in chaos over the Senate race between Ted Stevens and Mark Begich. Her ability to split her own party had left her with few Republican friends, and her campaign had alienated her from her allies among Democratic lawmakers.
The 2009 legislative session was one of the biggest wastes of time in Alaska history. Wars raged between the administration and legislators on both sides of the aisle. When word came of her book deal, there were constitutional questions about her dual role as governor and author as well as the resulting personal financial benefit. At the time, I thought, that’s fantastic! Great! Get a laptop and a bottle of Adderall…you’ll be fine. If you get stuck…well, make it up. It’s worked so far.
But I knew she couldn’t write a book that would capture why, to me, Alaska is one of the best things about America. We are the last frontier. What once was wild in America still is here. It takes my breath; the northern lights over Denali can trump a full moon; a phosphorescent glow in the wake of my row boat; bears fishing salmon out of Brooks Falls; glaciers bigger than cruise ships.
First Alaskans thrived in a frozen land for thousands of years and left no foot print. In 1867, Russia gave us a hell of a deal at 1.9 cents an acre. The Klondike Gold Rush was a quick pay back, and gave Charlie Chaplin some great material.
Homesteading pioneers farmed, fished and flourished. In 1922, a Tlingit Chief, Charlie Jones was jailed for voting. His protest gave way to Native Alaskans getting the right to vote two years before Native Americans. In 1944, years before the civil rights movement in the States, Roberta Schenck, a Native woman, refused to budge from her seat in the “Whites Only” section of a movie theatre in Nome. She was dragged out and jailed. Schenck was Alaska’s Rosa Parks-before Rosa Parks. Because of her bravery and the moving testimony of Elizabeth Peratrovich, on February 16, 1945, Territorial Governor 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?”
We decriminalized abortion before Roe vs. Wade. Our privacy laws are the strongest in the country. A man told me he moved here after studying the Alaska Constitution at law school; it could have been Section 22 that allowed Alaskans the right to possess marijuana.
During WWII the Japanese occupied the Alaska islands of Kiska and Attu for almost two years. Because of the harsh conditions, frost bite became worthy of a Purple Heart. In 1958, the Inupiat Village of Point Hope protested the nuclear detonation of Project Chariot to create a port on the North Slope. As a “thank you,” the federal government transported the contamination from the 1962 Nevada Test Site to the Chariot location and buried it there. Cancer rates among villagers are staggering. Where’s Erin Brockovich when we need her? In 1988, Homer, Alaska voted to officially become a “Nuclear Free Zone” in response to proposed nuclear subs. That same town—my home town—20 years later, had the only known “spontaneous” Obama headquarters in the country.
It’s wrong to be hard on anyone for not knowing Alaskans aren’t all Palinbots. After such a close Senate race, it would be fair to wonder if we suffer from Reality Deficit Disorder. Yet it’s easy to want to knock sense into folks who have ignored our history; rich with strength, true with characters and patriotism that deserve to be called American.
Not to play the blame game, but in the spirit of transparency you only get in therapy, the colonization of the 49th State by Global Enterprise has gone largely unnoticed. We could use some help fighting to insure the fragile wild salmon runs of Bristol Bay stay pristine against the looming threat of Pebble Mine. Your aid would be appreciated in keeping our wolves and bears safe from aerial “hunting.” And were your voices lifted with ours in a message to Exxon, maybe our fishermen would have been able to maintain their industry despite an unprecedented environmental catastrophe, still wreaking havoc 20 years later.
Alaska will eventually recover from the damage of the Palin phenomenon. Will America take a lesson from us? I can only hope.