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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