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Can we Alaskans agree on a few things?

  • Author: Shannyn Moore
    | Opinion
  • Updated: August 4
  • Published August 4

Smoked red salmon at the First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth Conference at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News file)

I was thinking of writing about less controversial things this week … you know, like fish allocation wars or immigration. I'm never sure what's going to throw people down a rabbit hole of rage, so I've decided to focus on a list that I would hope we Alaskans could all agree upon.

First, if it's illegal to have five cars stacked behind your motor home pulling a skiff full of four-wheelers, why don't I ever see that guy pulled over by the red and blue lights? I don't know how many times I've driven the New Seward and Sterling highways over the years, but it's always that guy holding up traffic and then the guy right behind him with the bumper stickers who seems to be in a trance and who won't go around. Dude, you're part of the problem as the No. 2 car. Get up and scoot, already! At some point, in either frustration or eagerness to donate all their organs, a driver pulls out on double lines and scares us all half to death or, sadly, closes the road for hours. I'm thinking this has something to do with the reluctance of campers to find the pull-off when there are more than five cars behind them — much less 50.

Second, when I was a kid, Sunday after church we'd stop at Proctor's Grocery on Pioneer Avenue in Homer and get the paper. By the time we'd driven home to the cabin, I would have read the We Alaskans section cover to cover even though the ink made me a tad carsick. I think part of the reason I stayed in Alaska was because of those stories. Seeing Marian Beck on the cover as a kid made me think everyone in that pullout must be real. I guess that's what makes us Alaskans — the real. Many places across the country no longer have a printed paper. The press is something to be celebrated, not vilified. We're lucky.

Third, can we agree that dry brine is far superior than wet brine for smoking salmon? I mean, really! How in the world can you get a fish ready for the smoker by soaking it in more liquid? They've been soaking in water for their whole lives. Introduce those red slabs of happiness to the drier side of salt and sugar (and secret ingredients) — they make their own slurry that way. (I realize this may be the most controversial topic to write about. Fine, send your letters to the editor and share your recipes!)

Fourth, sometimes Ronald Reagan really hit it out of the park. While speaking at the Statue of Liberty in 1986, he said: "While we applaud those immigrants who stand out, whose contributions are easily discerned, we know that America's heroes are also those whose names are remembered by only a few. Many of them passed through this harbor, went by this lady, looked up at her torch, which we light tonight in their honor." I really can't believe we are at a point where a White House spokesperson is saying the Emma Lazarus poem on the statue welcoming immigrants to our shores isn't relevant because it was added after the initial installation. Really? It took three years for the Bill of Rights to be added to the Constitution. The New Testament was added after the first.

Fifth, I recently had a woman from Seattle tell me that it's really hard to raise a straight, white male in today's world: "If my son has the same scores as a person of color, the other person will get into college before my son!" Wow. After all these years of a person of color with better scores getting bumped out of line for a white male? How unfair! If you've ever had to explain to your child how to not get shot by a cop or a self-appointed security officer, you're lucky. It was announced this week that affirmative action is no longer needed for universities. Whoever you are, good luck paying for it and hope you've got a degree that has a job on the other end. An important note: Diesel mechanics are in short supply.

While writing my list, I was asked what was up for the column this week.

"A bit of this, a bit of that, my annual rants and things we can agree on like the simplicity of dry brine," I said.

After a half-hour debate on how you were going to get the spruce tips in there I realize I may not have furthered my agenda to bring us together. Guess what? No matter what you smoke your fish with or if you do at all, or your family has been here for 10,000 years or came through Ellis Island, pull over your RV or not — for all you and I do or don't agree on — we Alaskans are still in this together.

Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com. 

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