TIME TO SET ALASKA FREE?
'..not part of the scenery.'
-Alaskan native and tavern owner, referring to the people of Alaska
have often thought about the positive points that have been made
by secessionists and militant groups, here in the U.S. Ive
tried to put myself in their shoes, and see America and its government
as they do. Re-reading the writings of the Founding Fathers, and
especially the Federalist Papers, has brought home a powerful point:
these separatists really do have something vital to say.
After viewing an interesting crime documentary, it struck me for the first
time that bigger issues are at stake than just the murder of an elderly
Alaskan man in 1994. The murdered man was Joe Vogler. He founded the Alaskan
Independence Party (the only true third party in the nation), and was
getting dangerously close to presenting a possibility of the secession
of Alaska from the United States. Many Alaskans want their state to be
a free, sovereign nation, and one cannot blame them.
I learned from this simple documentary, and from Mr. Vogler, that Alaskans
who want sovereignty are not militant, racist, hateful screw-heads. They
are, in fact, exactly as I have always imagined our Founding Fathers were.
They are sick of being plundered by Corporate America and its asinine
government officials. If it seems revolution is in the air, it is exactly
the type of revolution Thomas Jefferson predicted might occur if any states
people felt themselves to be under tyranny.
We are fortunate: people who legitimately feel tyrannized are granted
the right to rise up to fight the tyrannical government, if necessary.
Again, thanks to Thomas Jefferson, there is a remedy. Alaska doesnt
seem to want conflict; Alaskans, with Mr. Vogler as their statesman, approached
secession and independence as intelligently and thoroughly as anyone could
possibly hope. The cherished cause was carried all the way to the United
Nations in Mr. Voglers careful arms.
But in the mid-1990s Joe Vogler was shot down, and Alaska worried while
a fruitless search was made for his body, then mourned him when they learned
the truth. The going would be hard without good old Jim. Too many resources
abide in Alaska; the Alaskan Pipeline is a household word; environmentalists
dont want their distant utopian dream to be fouled by "enthusiastic"
Alaskan freedom fighters. At the same time, jobs and money go right out
of Alaska to other states. Mr. Vogler spoke long and tirelessly about
this and other problems Alaskans have to face. We may ask, "But they
are just separatists, arent they? Rabble-rousers, and obnoxious
ones at that! They are ingrates
" These thoughts sound a lot
like the British sentiments of the 18th century. In the Electoral College,
Alaska has the fewest votes of any state, having the fewest representatives
in the House. It seems Alaska has quite the legitimate axe to grind.
Alaskans have proved their worth, and their sincerity. They should at
least have the chance that our Founding Ancestors had. What they all really
want is what any American wants: security, resources, freedom-- and the
right to self-government. Sadly, they have found little of any of those
things in the America of today, and they have the courage to say so: Alaskans
as American citizens have been betrayed by the United States government.
A man is in jail for the murder of Mr. Vogler. It is said the murder was
a burglary gone bad. Very few Alaskans believe it. The former lieutenant
governor has said of the murder that "it is the cleanest take-out"
job he had ever heard of; and hes not the only person in high places
asking questions. The murder went unsolved for just over a year. Patently
absurd? Perhaps. Why would our government approach a self-described "street
person" with a rap sheet, to assassinate a 78-year-old man over the
Alaska Question? The murderer, Manfried "Cartoon Freddy" West,
was sentenced to 80 years in prison for second degree murder; Jim Vogler,
who is missed sorely by many Alaskans, has become the first true martyr
in a modern cause for separatism-- no matter why he was killed.
But just as often as I think about separatists, I think about their motives.
We were very close to ending up like Canada back in 1776-- indeed, a vast
number of Canadians are descendants of Americans who fled the Colonies
because they werent up to revolution. Canada must have received
a substantial second exodus after 1787, when Congress ratified the Constitution,
establishing a federal government. Canada has experienced tiny American
exodi ever since, especially during American wartimes.
Just as there were Americans who wanted no revolution, there were those,
afterward, who wanted no federal government. Once the American Revolution
was won, they reasoned, why not stay with the tightly-knit confederation
of sovereign states? These people, wary of "Big Brother" (and
big government) as far back as 1787, were able to foresee problems such
as the present Alaskan Question. Even Franklin and Washington were nervously
disagreeing with a federal government. They voted for it, anyway. They
asked, back in 1787 and for years prior, "What if a state is unhappy,
later? What if a state desires to secede?" They reasoned, "Surely
civil war would result." These fears were silenced by retorts that
anarchy would result without federal government. But the fears about federal
government were right, and fear is growing that they may prove to be right
Still, most of us feel that "this is America: love it or leave it!"
I agree, but only to the extent that our government is functioning as
best it should; I do not think that is the case just now. "Corporate"
America is America, and no one illustrates that point better than the
downtrodden good people of Alaska.
We may feel a certain twinge about Canada. Robin Williams joked that Canadians
are our quiet, nerdy "upstairs neighbors". Is there more than
a hint of envy in that joke? After all, how bad does the quiet upstairs
neighbor really have it? We may have ended up like Canada, if not part
But Canada we most certainly are not - we are supposed to be democracy
itself, at least in theory. At the end of the day, we should all recall
our duty to uphold that freedom and democracy. We should hearken back
to the worries of our ancestors. We should be decent enough to recognize
Joe Voglers work, honoring his memory and at the very least give
Alaska a chance to be heard.
© Rev Antonio Hernandez - August 2002
of the Right-wing: The Science of Cloning
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Nation under Scrutiny
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