Lew Williams' rummaging around some of Alaska's past is but one view, for all meaningful history is an interpretation of events, always by a biased eye toward one's own perception of values and meanings gleaned from personal experiences. Add in political convictions and the imagination rotates history into a never-ending spin.
American history in filled with expansion and development that always began with the land, be it homesteading to ownership, resource extraction, and of course, the real estate speculator. To discuss a capital move to Anchorage without mentioning the effect on land values in and around the state's largest city is simply incomplete. As long as there are some that stand to gain from a population boom and the companion spending of state dollars for new infrastructure, the debate to move the capitol will continue. A road to from Juneau to Skagway won't change that. It won't really make the capitol more accessible. How many people would venture to drive from Anchorage on 800 miles of predominantly mountain roads in the winter to participate in state government?
The future outcome won't follow the simple view of a selective history. Whatever course it takes won't end the debate of the capitol move. Indeed, even if it does move, there will be years of finger pointing no different than Mr. Williams' reduction of half of Juneau's population to "some Juneauites" as a group that complicates the debate. The road issue is far more than he has portrayed it to be. Whittling the debate to selective pieces of the past as a way to gauge the future is called politics, which is nothing more than an attempt to manipulate public opinion with simple-minded images in hopes to avert the risk of losing a long, arduous but intelligent debate.
The real history lesson we should take from Mr. Williams' opinion is that history which reads like facts isn't history at all, but a mere game of trivial pursuit. Real history is not stagnant. It is written and rewritten as the effects of the events before and after are continually debated. We need to educate ourselves more thoroughly about the important issues before us, and when we do, we will realize how the loudest voices in the political circles insult our intelligence with a marketing of rhetoric that would make a used car salesman proud.
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