Mayor Dan Sullivan refuses to apologize for ‘slavery’ comparison

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan has refused to apologize for comparing union membership to slavery at a lieutenant governors candidate forum in Anchorage on Monday.

When answering an audience question about right-to-work legislation, Sullivan said, “Nobody should ever have to basically pay a fee to someone else to get a job in this state…we ended slavery a long time ago.”

He later clarified his remark and said he was referring to “economic slavery.”

Sullivan was one of four candidates at the forum. None of the others took issue with his remark.

On Wednesday, the Anchorage chapter of the NAACP issued a release demanding an apology. “Slavery was about race, human degradation and America’s ‘greatest sin’. To compare it to today’s political issues of the moment diminishes how horrible and tragic it truly was,” said Wanda Laws, President of the Anchorage NAACP.

“I don’t think an apology is necessary,” Sullivan told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “I think that maybe people just need to discuss and clarify what it means to be forced to do something you don’t want to do to get a job. And by various definitions, that’s a form of economic slavery.”

In the past few years, conservatives have likened slavery from everything to affirmative action, to abortion to social security. And they often get reminded that it’s an offensive comparison. Most recently Sarah Palin made headlines for comparing the national debt to slavery.

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10 thoughts on “Mayor Dan Sullivan refuses to apologize for ‘slavery’ comparison

  1. Milton Friedman

    That is a very far reach. Particularly when the definition and use of the word is generic and not race specific. Any connotation made of a specific race is because the reader (you) make it. However I will not judge you by informing you that it sounds as if you have your own racial prejudices to work out. Instead, I will simply ask if you had such righteous indignation and called out the IOUO when they filed their lawsuit in Indiana over right to work legislation, stating that it made union members salves? Or were you equally insulted by the teamsters in Michigan when they made the same accusation? Or did you come out strongly against the Huffington Post when they accused republicans of leading America down a path of economic slavery? No, I doubt it. The word only seems to be distrustful to you, the NAACP and others when it is spoken by a white man who is republican. So tell me, who is the racist now?

  2. Robert Cortez

    Equating anything to slavery, but actual slavery is demeaning, derogatory and an insult to entire races of people who were actually slaves. Who were bought and sold like cattle, chained, whipped, beaten, raped, murdered and starved. People who were treated as less than human, who were kidnapped, then families split up. Mother’s and Fathers, children and siblings never to see nor hear from each other again. In America, our history, it’s those of African decent that were mostly brought here against their will to be sold into slavery. It is their children born into slavery. So yes, when making comparisons to slavery in America you’re referring to a period of Black history. It makes it a race issue. Just as much as it does to equate something to the Jewish Holocaust is not just insensitive it’s bigoted.

    Comparing paying union dues to slavery beyond being insensitive and racist, it’s stupid. Something the Mayor excels at.

    Businesses by licenses and permits. Some professionals are required to have a special license and continuing education. They pay those fees because that is the work they want to do. If people don’t want to pay union dues they’re free to find a non-union job. But to take a union job, that pays union scale and provides union benefits, then not pay dues, is theft of services in my opinion.

    The anti-union “right to work” supporters aren’t looking out for workers rights. They are simply trying to undermine unions to suppress worker rights and ability to negotiate for a wide range of things including working conditions, fair treatment and safety.

  3. Anthony

    Overly PC y’all?
    Although I don’t subscribe to the mission of our local NAACP my family is familiar with slavery. How the D’s in this argument are reacting is embarrassing. What’s worse is the opponent Lesil has taken this on like its something to be proud of. That’s pretty low, especially when she claimed to be honorable and ethical. haha. Didn’t think so. Goodness!
    I think the unions/NAACP need to check themselves when it comes to talking about race and upsetting those who don’t subscribe on the board of the local chapter. We haven’t been always been friends.

  4. Milton Friedman

    How was what he said racist when race was never mentioned? It is the overly sensitive, full of sold righteous outrage, who are offensive to me. Please stop blaming others for your delicate sensibilities and inability to think logically.

  5. John Brown

    Today, Mississippi Mayor Dan Sullivan …………
    I mean Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan…..
    I meant ….
    As a family publication, it would be inappropriate to write what I meant about Mayor Sullivan. My comments wouldn’t be racist but I certainly would have to apologize to some for theiir offensive tone.
    Mr. Mayot, an apology is in order and warranted. Man up to the insensitivity. You’re acting like a creep.

  6. Mary Anne

    Thisdisplay of insensitive behavior is raciist and unacceptable. The mayor has just lost my vote. His unbridled arrogance sickens me.

  7. SC Grown

    Come on, Mr. Mayor. First off, I don’t think that you meant to offfend anyone with your original comment comparing labor unions to slavery. However, it did offend some folks as evidenced by the NAACP’s response. To be truuthful, this was a non-issue until, in my opinion, you failed to apologize for offending folks. You were wrong and bull headed not to do so. Now, it makes me wonder about your lack o sensitivity and makes me even rethink the whole issue and question if you are a bigot or not. An apology to those offended would have been a proper and polite gesture without any admission of wrong doing. I”m starting to think that you’re either too stupid, arrogant or insensitive to be a public official. Maybe a little of all three. You are a growing disappointment. Maybe you should retire and spend your time playing tennis 24/7. Sorry, I forgot for a moment that they took that pot of money away from you. I’d hate to have you NOW for a running mate. You’re turning out to be the best thing Lesil has going for herself. Think about it. Your behavior is making her look lilke a better choice. Think about it again. That’s saying a lot.

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