Thursday, November 18, 2010

Palin's Alaska has no room for Native Americans

Sarah Palin has a new book out (I wonder who the ghostwriter for this one is) in which she expounds upon life and faith, although in regard to the latter I’m not sure she’s actually referring to religion. This so-called “Christian” has a certain lacking in Christian charity, as do most Republicans; Mother Palin spends considerable time trashing other people who done her wrong, mainly by questioning her many head-scratching commentaries. But don’t you criticize my mother, tweets Willow Palin, or I will tell you “stfu” and call you a “faggot.” At least we know the manner of language that goes on in the Palin household. Bristol says that everybody is “jealous” of the family’s success, although judging from her “Dancing with the Stars” performances, there is no accounting for lousy taste; Bristol’s partner is energetic and clearly knows what he’s doing, but that arrogant, clumsy tubby with no personality (and always seems to look as if she’d rather be somewhere else) has now been voted into the finals. The deadly silence of the audience that greeted this announcement could just as easily be interpreted as silent booing. Afterward, Brandy—a much better dancer who didn’t make the final cut—said it was all OK because Bristol was “shy and sweet”; she clearly has not spent much time inside the Palin Klan.

Meanwhile, Matt Bai of the NY Times had an absurd story about how Palin “allowed herself to be shaped by the “demands of the marketplace”—the “crowd-sourced candidate.” He says that she was “unformed.” The fact is that Palin was fully-formed before, and what you see is what you always had—someone with a thirst for attention and power, and treads on anyone to get it; that Palin’s knowledge on the issues of the day hasn’t improved much since her Katie Couric interview also suggests that she hasn’t “re-formed” to any noticeable extent. It is also true that people who despise other people and are contemptuous of them and their rights also have a tendency to be “culturally conservative,” so we don’t really need to wonder at questions of ideology. The question of why Palin is such a “hit” in the media is easily explained by the fact that many in that estate require a white female to be a symbol of power for their own self-aggrandizement, and with Hillary Clinton strangely in the shadows, the media has latched on to Palin for undeserved credibility on a variety of issues she clearly has no business expressing an opinion on.

Palin also has a new “reality show” called “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” Boy, doesn’t that sound exciting. I bet one thing Palin won’t discuss is her “respect” for Alaska’s Native American culture. Although her husband, Todd Palin, is 1/16th Yu'pik and has a Yu'pik grandmother, that’s like saying John Boehner is part Cherokee. According to many of Alaska’s Native Americans, Palin seems to support the concept that nature’s bounty is for the use and enjoyment of humans—that is, if they are white like she is. Palin apparently does not like the fact that whenever she goes out hunting or fishing she might run into Natives who must do the same for subsistence and not sport, or take into consideration their needs (“I’m pro subsistence for all Alaskans” she proclaimed in opposing Native American fishing and hunting rights). According to tribal leaders, Palin seemed to have an agenda from the moment she was elected governor (apparently because she was not the unpopular Frank Murkowski), stifling efforts to protect Native people's livelihoods from commercial and sport fishing and hunting. The lawsuit Palin initiated in opposition to the Interior Department’s decision to list the polar bear as an endangered species would also have had the effect of removing protection--from oil and mining interests-- for lands used by the Natives; she also opposed and helped defeat the Alaska Clean Water initiative, which sought to limit toxic chemicals into Alaska waterways by mining companies, which tribes saw as endangering their livelihoods and health.

Palin was also criticized for failing to appoint any Native Americans to the Alaska Coastal Management Program, which oversees coastal conditions, which naturally is of vital interest to tribes—and who were likely to get in the way of white conservative “needs.” Alaska’s natives have additionally complained of Palin’s disinterest in improving living conditions in remote areas where there is no running water or sewage systems. Palin also tried to interfere with the Bureau of Indian Affairs authority, particularly on issues of tribal sovereignty. Palin further angered Native Alaskans by refusing to provide bi-lingual voting ballots for Yu'pik speakers; she was later forced by court order to provide them. Last but not least, she fired Native American Walt Monegan, the Public Safety Commissioner, for failing to fire the trooper ex-husband of her sister—which later transmuted into Troopergate, for which Palin only escaped censure when she decided to quit being governor.

Not surprisingly, in every negative economic, health, educational, criminal justice and social indicator, Native Alaskans rank far beyond their numbers comparative to whites. Palin’s opposition to stimulus money for education and rejection of “donated” heating fuel from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez naturally most affected native peoples. Gov. Palin’s attention to diversity (or lack thereof) didn’t escape the attention of Alaskans who are African-American, either. Black leaders met with Palin to discuss her problem in regard to minority hiring; Gwen Alexander, the head of the African-American Historical Society of Alaska, later reported that Palin’s position was that she felt no compulsion to hire blacks at all, and had no plans on doing so in the future.

What are we to make of this? As the Empress of Tea Partydom, and given the racist underpinnings of that movement, we should not be surprised by any of these doings. Given the facts—which the “lamestream” and “blamestream” media that Palin derides never seem to discover on their own—what you see is what you get. If we take the recent Gallup poll on the “Palin effect,” perhaps some people are starting to get wise: 52 percent of the public have a negative view of her.

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