Behavior unacceptable

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2008

I moved to Alaska 10 years ago. I didn't move here for the weather or for a great paying job, but because I wanted to live here. Why did I want to live here? After growing up in rural West Virginia and attending college in Virginia, I felt that I wanted to move away from a place where bigotry and intolerance were, in my view, the rule and not the exception. I wanted to live some place where many political and religious views were not only tolerated, but appreciated and embraced. This is why I moved to Alaska.

My first experiences here when I visited during breaks in my medical school training were amazing to me. Everyone I met was extremely friendly and helpful. And even though almost everyone I met had some different political and religious beliefs than mine, I never encountered any hostility at all. Much to the contrary; most folks seemed genuinely interested in hearing what I had to say and discussing our different views.

However, this live-and-let-live attitude was not at all what I experienced on Nov. 4.

After work I decided to go out and celebrate the first time in my voting history that a candidate I actually voted for won a national election. I went to celebrate with two of my conservative friends who I knew would be disappointed, but amused by my giving them a hard time. What happened throughout the remainder of the evening was so profoundly upsetting to me, even days later, I feel compelled to write about it. From about 5:30 until about 9:30 p.m. in two local dining establishments, I heard racial slurs directed at our newly elected president, not once or twice, but four times.

This word, "n-----," I heard almost every day going to school on the bus in the rural south. It was directed at my African American friends, teachers and community members in hateful tones. These words haunt me to this day. And to hear them uttered in my adopted home disgusted and hurt me on the deepest level. It made me ashamed to be an Alaskan.

So to all four of you who I heard speak so hatefully, and to the others who I did not hear that night but who said those words any way, you are not part of my Alaska. You are not part of my America. And I am ashamed to call you part of the human race. I don't care what you believe politically or even what religion you claim to be a part of, hatred and bigotry are just wrong. You are not true Alaskans or true Americans. You are truly hateful and I am ashamed of you.

Dr. Patrick Huffman


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