|Complicity takes many shapes. It can show up as apathy, distraction, and ignorance. It can wear the disguise of “business as usual.” It can appear as populism, righteousness, and partisan politics. It is integral to corruption and collusion.|
Complicity is at work when a major media outlet gives a platform to a racist demagogue in the name of “presenting both sides.”
Complicity is at work when a state legislator uses a social media platform to cast shade on Alaska Native corporations for engaging on the critical issues surrounding Alaska’s budget and then later using ignorance of state history and law as an excuse.
Complicity is at work when the Alaska’s executive branch presents an “either/or” budget that hurts the same people either way.
Complicity is at work when the President uses tweets to foment threats and violence against legislators who oppose his policies.
Complicity props up racism, sexism, and oppression by refusing to see them, acknowledge them, name them, and interrupt them.
Complicity begets complicity
Because complicity changes form, it gets easily lost within political bureaucracy and political divisions. It seeps into the processes, systems and institutions that enact democracy. It pervades the way decision-makers are elected, selected and appointed. It promotes dogma that blames and excludes the same people over and over and over.
When we think of ourselves as Alaskans and Americans, we often hold up the U.S. and Alaska constitutions as asserting our inherent rights, even as we forsake the human rights of others.
When the “Blessing of Liberty” becomes the right of the powerful to do whatever it wants to whomever it wants, then it is tyranny.
When “general Welfare” becomes the right of some people to amass and horde while those most exploited, abused, and neglected are kept from healthcare, food, and safe places to sleep, then it is brutality.
When the “common defense” and “domestic Tranquility” become the right of the bully pulpit to urge masses of people to threaten those with opposing views, then it is incitement.
When “establishing Justice” becomes the right of authority to assert compliance through intimidation and force on those suffering injustice, then it is oppression.
When the “perfect Union” becomes the right of those with decision-making power to use policy, process and outright threat to force people to leave their careers, homes, families, and communities, then it is a tool of division.
Fighting for a future for all of us
Our job at Trustees is to defend democratic processes and uphold the laws that protect land, water, wildlife, and people. We work in coalitions that assert the public’s right to have a voice and the human rights of those most impacted by industrial exploitation.
We work for clients with a deep understanding of the connection between social justice and their ability to hunt, fish, enact their traditions, and experience nature. We work, too, for a future with a habitable and just world.
Through all our work, we use the law to call out the complicity of decision-making processes that dismiss or demean the concerns of people most affected by those decisions.
The democracy we herald and believe in does not belong to one small group of people to use as a tool to manipulate and control the rest. It belongs to all Americans in trust.
That’s the democracy we protect and defend.
Legal Director and Acting Executive Director
|PS: Your support of Trustees for Alaska is critical now more than ever.|
A historic vote will take place in Congress this September when the U.S. House votes on a bill to restore protections to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The fact that the State of Alaska, EPA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, thousands of scientists, and the public identified the same concerns with the draft EIS should be a red flag that the Army Corps is being willfully complicit with industry interests.
The Bureau of Land Management continues to hold lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, also known as the Western Arctic, without looking at the real and enduring impacts of industrial activities on this area’s land, water, animals, climate, and people. The lease sale process is broken.