Saturday, April 11, 2009

Reading Old Wayne Anthony Ross Op-Eds While Watching "Milk"

I spent all of Friday afternoon in the newspaper-periodical room at the Mat-Su College Library, going through thousands of pages of old editions of the Anchorage Times.

Between the early 1980s and the demise of the Anchorage Times in 1992, Wayne Anthony Ross wrote hundreds of op-eds for the afternoon daily paper. Very occasionally, he also wrote op-eds for the Anchorage Daily News. But for years, Ross shared top-of-the fold Sunday edition space with the likes of Fred Chiei, Tom Fink and Paula Easley.

Ross has also written a number of articles for national periodicals, like Speak Out for Families ("False Reports of Child Sexual Abuse Devastate Families and Children"), Army Motors Magazine (Heading for the Rhine"), Soldier of Fortune (Join a Militia - Break the Law?), and The Firing Line ("Kids and Guns - A Different Perspective"). He tried a few Voice of the Times op-ed slots, after the Times buyout, but has written far less since the early 1990s.

The Anchorage law office of Ross & Miner maintains a list of WAR's publications. The list, as long as it is, is incomplete. There are a few minor inaccuracies regarding dates of articles, but using the page was a great tool for homing in on articles that seemed interesting from the titles. And, if you go to the page, some are available on-line, and have HTML links embedded in the page's titles.

I read or scanned almost 100 of Ross' op-eds yesterday. I have to say, I enjoyed some of the columns. He was sometimes a fluid writer. His approach to humor could be charmingly self deprecating.

The most common subjects were guns, hunting, huge trucks, child custody, subsistence, guns, fishing, women's rights (usually meaning "men's rights"), obstacles to economic growth, guns, the perils of government bureaucracy, and some idiosyncratic views on Alaska legal history and statutory law itself. And guns. Ross' longstanding objections to ANILCA were a constant theme. And - guns.

While Judy and I watched the excellent movie "Milk" last night, I re-read some of the columns I copied. Op-eds with titles like:

Chastity, adultery relegated to Dark Ages
KKK 'art' project gets 'A' for courage
Proponents of abortion are doomed to lose
It seems like it's becoming 'we' vs. 'they' on Alaska issues
It is time we quit crying over the oil spill (September 1989)

"Chastity" contrasts his Jesuit upbringing ("If we caused another person to lose their place in Heaven, by leading them astray, we could lose our place as well) with the early 1990s ("In this age of enlightenment, parents allow their children to go to school wearing condoms on their clothing as some sort of badge promoting 'safe sex." Chastity is a word seldom heard, and the very mention of God is almost prohibited in our halls of learning").

"KKK 'art' project" - defends a UAA student who created an art project. "He created a hooded and robed stick figure of a KKK member, bearing a cross in one hand and a flag in the other."

An African-American student objected. Ross, showed his lack of concern for her viewpoint. "Ms. [name redacted by PA] was obviously letting her inner hostilities rise to the surface."

After Prof. Ken Gray "capitulated," Ross had this to say about the protesting student:

It might have been more fun to see Ms. [-----] try to remove the display. Then she could have been arrested and her future as a student of the university could have been resolved through the university disciplinary proceedings.

"Proponents of abortion doomed" hoped in May 1989, that "speculation is that Roe v. Wade may be overturned." Ross goes on to describe both national protests against Roe v. Wade, and Alaska efforts to terrorize the few doctors here who performed the procedure, in benign, heroic terms. No mention of people killed in clinic bombings around that time. No mention of the houndings and vicious attacks that drove Dr. carolyn brown from our state.

"'We' vs. 'they'" - written in 1987 - was one of dozens of his tomes that was unflattering or downright hostile to the idea that Alaska Natives and their aspirations to maintain their lifestyles merit legal protections. He has often asserted that these aspirations are in and of themselves dangerous, even disloyal or treasonous. He is always apt at cloaking these feelings. I'd love to turn the totality of Ross' writings on the subsistence and ANILCA issues over to an anthropological psychologist.

Many white outdoorsmen like Ross are quite unable to step back from the subsistence issue far enough to see both the huge impact of over 600,000 people on our resources, and the growing poverty among Natives whose civilizations - in existence since before any human beings had developed alphabets - are being wiped out in a few short decades by the selfish foolishness of the likes of Ross.

Similar strains to those in this 22-year old column were evidenced in WAR's testimony this past week in Juneau. He has learned, though, over the years to couch his once explicitly anti-Native stance in the false language of "fairness," constitutional dissonances and equal rights.

"It is time we quit crying over the oil spill" deserves a complete reprint, I'll quote a bit from it here. Written on September 17, 1989, it was penned as the summer of spill cleanup was beginning to wind down in full force. Here are a few snips:

Accidents happen. The Valdez oil spill was an accident. A terrible accident, yes, but an accident.

We see almost every day, the same films of what appear to be the same oil-soaked duck pulled out of the water. The state claims to have a number of refrigerated vans filled with about 30,000 carcasses of waterfowl killed by oil. No doubt some of these birds were casualties of oil. But had several thousand people combed Prince William Sound for dead waterfowl any prior summer, as they did in the summer of 1988 [sic], there is no doubt that an equal number of dead birds could have been accumulated.

As we watched "Milk," and I thought of Ross, I couldn't avoid comparing Ross to Dan White. Hopefully, Ross will not use the new powers our spineless, somewhat racist legislature is about to hand him as unwisely as did White.

Fortunately, WAR doesn't eat twinkies....

image of Rep. Bob Lynn with WAR from Bob Lynn's blog


troutbirder said...

Ouch & I thought Texas was a loser.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think that he'll be confirmed?

I've heard that AK Natives make up approx 20% of our state's population. Is our legislature seriously considering disenfranchising 1 in 5 Alaskans (not including the GLBT community, which might bring the number up to 1 in 4)?

Please please tell me it's not so.


Wolfe Tone said...

I hate to say it, but I think Phil is right. W.A.R. will probably be confirmed.
All is not lost, however. We can replace Sarah Palin (ANYBODY would be better), and Ross will go down the trail with her.
For that matter, so should every member of the Legislature that confirms Ross.

PattyG said...

" He has learned, though, over the years to couch his once explicitly anti-Native stance in the false language of "fairness," constitutional dissonances and equal rights."

That paragraph is the clincher and his frightening, chameleon
approach to serious issues involving women, ethics. The list goes on.

Philip Munger said...

Mini14 - love it when a gun enthusiast see through W.A.R.

E. Ross said...

He doesn't eat lima beans either ... Interesting post (but creepy.) Thanks for doing this research.

OhCrapIHaveACrushOnSarahPalin said...

He has learned, though, over the years to couch his once explicitly anti-Native stance in the false language of "fairness," constitutional dissonances and equal rights.Same people and their consorts like Ward Connerly have been pulling the same crap in CA calling themselves "Civil Rights Alliances", "American Civil Rights Institutes" and putting anti-minority "Civil Rights Acts" on ballots (which are then endorsed by the KKK.)

You can't make this stuff up, conservatism has become so absurd.

Eugenia said...

I think it's outrageous (and scary) that in his recent letter to the Alaska legislature denying claims that he supported DADs and made jokes about men raping their wives, he signed the statement as Atty General. I think in his own little universe, he's already been confirmed.