What I Learned in Alaska

Reprint: what a gay, Muslim, Pakistani-American immigrant learned traveling to rural Alaska the week before the 2016 election.

RIAZ PATEL, November 10, 2016

Dear 59,668,724 Disappointed Americans,

I know this is a devastating day. Considering the toxic levels of hatred and division unleashed over the past few years of campaigning, either outcome was going to be a bitter pill for HALF of our nation to swallow. Like all forms of mourning, it will take time to heal as we mourn the loss of our version of the next four years.

But notice I said OUR version. Because there is another one. And that one not only has a lot of supporters, but has legally and definitively asserted its right to be heard. It’s a perspective I didn’t know a lot about until recently.

A few months ago I sat down with Glenn Beck for an intense chat about hate in America. At some point he questioned why I lumped all “White Americans” together when expressing a particular point of view. I thought about that a lot.

RELATED: Riaz Patel: I Am Really Frustrated With Liberals Right Now

So, the next day I decided I needed to understand the election from a perspective other than my own. On my drive to work I found a Conservative radio station. The morning after, I found another. And ever since, thanks to the power of satellite radio, I’ve been crisscrossing the country, popping in to listen to local call-in shows.

Here’s what I learned by listening. Listening. Not waiting to speak. Not waiting to disagree or refute.

There exists a HUGE population in America who are desperately struggling to feed their families.

They feel their needs are not authentically represented within this huge government.

They feel their concerns are not being voiced by any major news outlet.

They are tired of being called “dumb,” “bigoted” and “racist.”

And, based on the shocked expressions of every anchor last night that all their polling data was off, apparently they aren’t even really counted.

I was feeling such a groundswell of their frustration and unhappiness – and even the strong possibility of a Trump victory – that I decided last-minute to travel with my husband and our six-month old daughter to Ketchikan, Alaska the weekend before the election.

Why? Because I wanted to meet these people. And I wanted them to meet me. Before we had a “Winner.” How else would we understand each other beyond the “black” and “white” which we BOTH have been painted, non-stop, in this vicious election cycle.

So, I went to breakfast at The Landing on Tongass Avenue and discussed the stakes of the election with third-generation fisherman and learned that their whole life’s work was at stake based on potential Clinton fishing regulations. I talked somewhat fervently about the cancer that is radical Islam with Nicole & Jim, who ran the Black Bear Inn and discussed how we all feel unsafe these days. And I chatted with Paula, the 30-year bar manager, who explained that almost all of Alaska is owned by the federal government so each vote in this community is REALLY about their ability to support their families.

Over the course of two days, I met lovely people. Some I agreed with and some I didn’t. Some of them had met a Muslim before and others hadn’t. But all asked me earnest questions about my background, and I asked about theirs. No question was offensive because the intention was non-judgmental.

On my flight back, I realized that for many of us supporting Hillary, this election was about incredibly important social issues. It was a moral election for us. To most of the people I met on my trip, it was about survival. Literally.

So when I read Facebook/Twitter posts this morning vilifying 50% of the country for being dumb or racist, I remember Nicole, Jim & Paula and I know that’s not true.

But how would I know that if I didn’t meet them and talk to them with an open mind? Only by pulling up a few chairs to PERSONIFY the people we think we hate, will we move beyond “black” and “white” to the way the world really is: grey. Grey is the only way.

As I walk around my office today, people are in shock. It’s no surprise people are surprised by the results when they refused to let an opposing viewpoint in. What did most of my Hillary supporting friends do when someone disagreed with their politics on Facebook? They “Unfriended” them. And when even Jake Tapper on CNN makes the mistake of saying “we” instead of “she” as he refers to winning Connecticut, we have to realize we are in one giant echo chamber that extends to almost everyone we speak to and almost every place we get information.

This morning, I am not surprised by the result. But I am slightly impressed by the notion that all the celebrity power and campaign money in the nation was not enough to continue to mute these Americans. They simply went to the polls and voted for what was best for their family. Just as we all do. And they won. Fairly.

Now, before the chat threads blow up below this article, I am not denying that some Trump supporters are racist. Of course. But some Muslims are terrorists.

The point is NOT ALL.

I’ve seen the clips of bigoted slurs being thrown out at Trump rallies. But, as a TV producer, when I watch the footage aired, there aren’t a tons of incidents. It’s a couple each time, played many, many times over. But if a group of twenty idiotic Trump supporters yell ethnic slurs, is the entire stadium “racist” by association? No. If a Black Lives Matters supporter says it’s “open season on whites” is that a true representation of the movement? No. Should I be viewed with suspicion because I am a Muslim and some are terrorists? No.

The worst outcome of the election is that we have each been reduced to a series of broad labels that no longer reflect who we are. Mexican. White. Republican. Immigrant. Muslim. We may try to look at people as “labels” but we’ll never truly see them because THEY do not look at their own lives & families as labels. If, in the misery of this morning’s election hangover, we choose to continue to refer to Trump supporters as one collective “Them” I think that is as offensive as anything else I’ve heard in this election cycle and as ungracious as anything we feared from Trump supporters in the defeat we assumed would be theirs.

I think a key part of beginning to heal is realizing Trump is not his supporters. Who he is and how he campaigned are truly distasteful to me. But his supporters are not him. They voted for a variety of reasons that are important and personal to them. And when I was with them this past weekend, everyone I came across showed me kindness & humanity. I hope, for their sake, the quality of their life improves. And that they are able to continue to work and provide their families with a safe and loving home.

A home into which I hope to be invited.

SOURCE: https://www.glennbeck.com/contributor/what-a-gay-muslim-pakistani-american-immigrant-learned-traveling-to-rural-alaska-the-week-before-the-election


It is not the intention of the Nockian Society to promote or support either of the dominant political parties in the United States. Both parties are agents for the collectivist degradation of the country. This article, though, and another article on this page, written by ardent Democrats, both provide some explanation for the “shocking” upset in the 2016 election for President. The winner, Donald Trump, was an amateur in government, and that was much of his appeal. He was Don Quixote, and he was in a financial position to win. Upon winning, his voters could see him doing what they would do if they had the money to become President.

Off the Wall

November 10, 2016 – note to Mike Rowe
Hey Mike. You’ve been very quiet.  Everything OK?  I just wanted you to know that I voted for you.  I was also hoping you might explain what the hell happened on Tuesday, and say something to make me feel better about my fellow man.  Thanks,
Carol Savoy

Hi Carol

Last Friday, my dog posted a video that featured a man licking a cat with the aid of a device that’s designed for the specific purpose of making it easier for people to lick their cats.  I’ve been silent ever since, because frankly, I couldn’t think of a better way — metaphorical or otherwise — to express my feelings about this election cycle.  The entire country it seems, has been preoccupied with finding a way to lick a cat without actually putting their tongue on it.

Too oblique?  Too weird?  Ok, how about this analysis:

Back in 2003, a very unusual TV pilot called Dirty Jobs, Forrest-Gumped its way onto The Discovery Channel and found an audience — a big one.  For Discovery, this was a problem.  You see, Dirty Jobs didn’t look like anything else on their channel.  It wasn’t pretty or careful.  It took place in sewers and septic tanks, and featured a subversive host in close contact with his 8-year old inner child who refused to do second takes.  Everyone agreed that Dirty Jobs was totally “off-brand” and completely inappropriate for Discovery.  Everyone but the viewers.  The ratings were just too big to ignore, so the pilot got a green-light, and yours truly finally got a steady gig.

But here’s the thing — Dirty Jobs didn’t resonate because the host was incredibly charming.  It wasn’t a hit because it was gross, or irreverent, or funny, or silly, or smart, or terribly clever.  Dirty Jobs succeeded because it was authentic.  It spoke directly and candidly to a big chunk of the country that non-fiction networks had been completely ignoring.  In a very simple way, Dirty Jobs said “Hey — we can see you,” to millions of regular people who had started to feel invisible.  Ultimately, that’s why Dirty Jobs ran for eight seasons.  And today, that’s also why Donald Trump is the President of the United States.

I know people are freaked out, Carol.  I get it.  I’m worried too.  But not because of who we elected.  We’ve survived 44 Presidents, and we’ll survive this one too.  I’m worried because millions of people now seem to believe that Trump supporters are racist, xenophobic, and uneducated misogynists.  I’m worried because despising our candidates publicly is very different than despising the people who vote for them.

Last week, three old friends — people I’ve known for years — each requested to be “unfriended” by anyone who planned on voting for Trump.  Honestly, that was disheartening.  Who tosses away a friendship over an election?  Are my friends turning into those mind-numbingly arrogant celebrities who threaten to move to another country if their candidate doesn’t win?  Are my friends now convinced that people they’ve known for years who happen to disagree with them politically are not merely mistaken — but evil, and no longer worthy of their friendship?

For what it’s worth, Carol, I don’t think Donald Trump won by tapping into America’s “racist underbelly,” and I don’t think Hillary lost because she’s a woman.  I think a majority of people who voted in this election did so in spite of their many misgivings about the character of both candidates.  That’s why it’s very dangerous to argue that Clinton supporters condone lying under oath and obstructing justice.  Just as it’s equally dangerous to suggest a Trump supporter condones gross generalizations about foreigners and women.

These two candidates were the choices we gave ourselves, and each came with a heaping helping of vulgarity and impropriety.  Yeah, it was dirty job for sure, but the winner was NOT decided by a racist and craven nation — it was decided by millions of disgusted Americans desperate for real change.  The people did not want a politician.  The people wanted to be seen.  Donald Trump convinced those people that he could see them.  Hillary Clinton did not.

As for me, I’m flattered by your support, but grateful that your vote was not enough to push me over the top.  However, when the dust settles, and The White House gets a new tenant, I’ll make the same offer to President Trump that I did to President Obama — to assist as best I can in any attempt to reinvigorate the skilled trades, and shine a light on millions of good jobs that no one seems excited about pursuing.   The first four years are the hardest.

Like those 3 million “shovel ready” jobs we heard so much about eight years ago, the kind of recovery that Donald Trump is promising will require a workforce that’s properly trained and sufficiently enthused about the opportunities at hand.  At the moment, we do not have that work force in place.  What we do have, are tens of millions of capable people who have simply stopped looking for work, and millions of available jobs that no one aspires to do.  That’s the skills gap, and it’s gotta close.  If mikeroweWORKS can help, we’re standing by.

If not, I suppose we’ll just have to find another way to lick the cat.

Mike


Reprinted without apologies but with the anticipation that lots of people will click on the links above and help support mikeroweWORKS Foundation.  Another viewpoint, written by a gay Muslim immigrant, can be found in this brief article.