Friday, September 29, 2023
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Left’s cultural revolution takes aim at governor’s historic art

Some of the most storied generals in American Civil War history have their portraits shown on the wall of the Governor’s Office in Anchorage. They’re all from the Union side, fighting to free the slaves. They are all complicated warriors, products of their time in history and their own human frailties.

But it’s the portrait of General George Custer that seems to have caught the eye and triggered the ire of some of Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s harshest critics on Twitter, which is where some of them seem to live. The relentless recall Twitterati are saying the portrait is proof Dunleavy is racist.

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In this era of wokeness, one cannot be too careful. As with Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution, there is forbidden art and taboo literature (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) that will be publicly attacked at the corner of Cynicism and Intersectionality.

American historic figures, with all their warts, are among those being sanitized by the Left. Even those who used to be considered the good guys, such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abe Lincoln.

Gen. Custer was a storied Union cavalry commander in the Civil War, and went on to an assignment in the never-ending Indian Wars, where he was annihilated by said Indians while leading his men into battle at Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory against a coalition of Native American tribes. “Custer’s Last Stand” was where he took a bullet to his head and another near his heart.

Custer was also a Democrat. So was General Philip Sheridan, a Union general whose portrait also hangs in Dunleavy’s office. These, along with portraits of President James Polk, Gen. Ulysses Grant, and Gen. William Sherman were similarly displayed in Dunleavy’s office when he was a senator, and there was not a peep of criticism.

Dunleavy, a schoolteacher at heart, is an avid student of American history with a special interest in the Civil War. Polk, who is Dunleavy’s favorite president, was also a Democrat and an advocate of Jacksonian democracy, which promoted greater rights for the common man, although he was also a slaveholder. Dunleavy, of course, is a Republican.

But the commentators on Twitter singled out the sketch of Custer, and the fact that Custer fought Indians, this being the only part of his biography they could evidently conjure up.

Gov. Michael Dunleavy with his Alaska Native family.

The Left forgets that Dunleavy taught Alaska Natives in rural Alaska for years as an educator, and is married to an Alaska Native and has three Alaska Native children.

It’s an inconvenient truth.

The Left has also not yet whipped up a frenzy over the name of the Baranof Hotel in Juneau, nor sanitized William Seward’s statue from in front of the Capitol. But soon, no doubt.


Chairman Mao’s instruction to his nation was to destroy the Four Olds (old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas) and the sanitization of Chinese history begat the Cultural Revolution, during which Chinese intellectuals, writers, artists, and teachers were sent to “reeducation camps.”

Will history repeat itself? If the Twitterati are in charge, it just might.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. It is simply time to tell the SJWs, young and old, to STFU. Recent history clearly illustrates that giving in serves no purpose. Enough said.

  2. It is simply time to reaffirm to the left the reason for the 2nd Amendment which they will find out very quickly if they continue to try to destroy our Constitutional rights and rewrite the history of our Republic. Fortunately, Donald Trump was elected President and Mike Dunleavy won the last Gubernatorial election but the intolerance of the left for the traditions and freedoms that we have always had, leaves little hope for a peaceful solution.

    • Mr. Murphy please refrain from shooting me because we disagree on things, it is not good form. Think about: El Paso, Gilroy, Pittsburg Synagogue, Charlottesville, Planned Parenthood in Co., the Sikh Temple in Wisc….. We should probably clam down and not threaten to kill our fellow citizens. Many of our “traditions” should be looked at critically and if they can’t withstand that, they probably should go. It is called democracy. Also, isn’t protection for being killed/threatened and expressing one’s views is also protected in the Constitution?

  3. As soon as the Democrats and the Left take responsibility for the actions of Franklin Roosevelt in displacing and interning Americans of Japanese descent in WWII, I will consider listening to their other assorted complaints. Roosevelt, the spiritual founder of modern Leftism, was about the most tyrannical President in our history; the Left refuses to repudiate this elitist thug.

    • They did, in 1988. They passed a reparations bill through Congress that was opposed by a majority of Republicans. But fortunately Ronald Reagan signed the bill anyway.

      The “thug” was the man who defeated Hitler.

      • A long discussion, but the guy that defeated Hitler was Stalin. And FDR’s mental and physical state at the Tehran Conference probably set the stage for thirty-five years of Cold War. If we really wanting to have fun discussion we could talk about the drift into authoritarianism under Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration. Or maybe the plan to pack the Supreme Court. The Left owns Roosevelt.

  4. Top notch work, Suzanne, and doubtless going to trigger all the Progs, Libs, Commies, Dems and Fascists on the commentary board about how you’re shielding a racist by enabling racism. As history appears to repeat itself over and over, perhaps you’re right and Alaska will soon be inundated with a gaggle of the “woke” who insist that we pull out of the state because we invaded it in the first place.

      • You actually believe that just because we weren’t the first white people to come to Alaska that the Leftists wouldn’t call our advance into this territory an “invasion.” As far as the Left is concerned, being here first or last has nothing to do with who’s to blame. I thought you would know this by now.

        • Take a step back. The guy slaughtered native americans for a living. That wouldn’t fly today, would it?

          I will say if you keep up the us vs them arguments, your life is going to be much less happier.

          • Us versus them? Well, if you’re speaking about good vs. evil, light vs. dark, or right vs. wrong, then I’m going to have to say you’re off-base.

            It’s always been about that. The Left would just love to see us never enter a voting booth again as long as we live, to never have a public say in societal forums or our own government for the rest of our lives. Nor would they care for our voice to be heard even in the mainstream media of our country. If you doubt that, listen to NPR sometime. Not a single conservative, Christian, or Republican notion ever gets more than a snide chuckle on that network (which is largely subsidized through Congress by the very people it despises).

            The Right “took a step back” for 50 years and look where it’s gotten us. A Fake News media, fully endorsed and funded by the Left, a bloated and wasteful Swamp in D.C., public schools that are the laughingstock of the world (as we continue to spend even more every year for each student), university students who would rather spend their days off by donning terrorist-style masks and pummeling people and wrecking property than to do charity work or simply enjoy their families at home, regulatory commissions and departments intent on stealing every bit of breath from your lungs in order to disenable Americans from just living their lives, racism and ethnic strife from the Left that is then transferred to the Right in the form of shouts of white nationalism or voter suppression (voter fraud on their end being a “fantasy”…or so they claim) as well as the deaths (literal deaths) of millions of babies at the hands of abortionists while quoting the Holy Word to our faces, as if they are authorities.

            I dunno, “Reality,” sounds pretty much like an us versus them moment, doncha think? Regardless, I live in a state where it is quite blissful for me and my family and I’m perfectly happy to remain here as long as the evil underpinnings of Leftist, Progressivism, Socialism, Communism, Liberalism, Fascism or whatever else the Left call themselves these days…as long as they stay away from me and my family and friends, I’m perfectly happy and fine where I am. You can welcome them into your home, but I certainly don’t have to in mine, thanks very much. There’s no place for that ilk, like wolves among sheep, and my children are far too valuable and precious. Cheers!

  5. Alaska has a problem writing statutes, promoting equality, and using STEM skills to solve problems. Its school teach medium that leave students unprepared for any job, except what Alaska wants its children to do, construction…and it doesnt change because Alaska wants to continue its lackluster CAS. Where does that leave the child wanting to change Alaskas values for the better?
    Alaska promotes white collar crime and damages democratic capitalism.
    Alaska inequality stands in the way of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    National Security is jeopardized by Alaska and its spending.
    Support the Constitution of the United States.
    Let your Representative know you do not believe (you know) Alaskas future isnt as bright without Computing, Engineering, and Technology’s plan for its future.
    Support Ms. Downing if capable!!

  6. If you let them get away with taking down Lee and Davis it’ll only be a matter of time before they come after Grant and Lincoln.


    The more nearly imperceptible the slight to wokeness the greater the virtue signalled by righting the “wrong”. It’s a purity competition leading to a purity spiral. Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhower, JFK will ALL have to go.

  7. General Custer? In Dunleavy’s collection of pictures? That shouldn’t cause any indigestion, especially since Dunleavy is married to an Alaskan Native woman and since Custer and his death represents the high water mark of Native resistance in North America.

    Pictures of Union Generals however should remind us that big budgets do not always lead to positive outcomes!

    I might be alarmed if Big Mike hangs a picture of Maj. General Dan Sickles on his wall. Sickles was a brilliant man and a first class scoundrel whose life would make a work of fiction look bland.
    From shooting his wife’s lover, the son of Francis Scott Key and an U.S. Atty General) to death in cold blood, (and being acquitted), to seducing European Royals in order to start a war for Cuba, to being almost solely responsible for the creation of New York’s Central Park. Sickles lost his right leg from a cannon ball at Gettysburg but even that did not slow is womanizing ways. Yes, keep an eye on Big Mike’s collection of Civil War Generals!

    • 52 percent casualties in the 7th Cavalry, 16 officers, 242 troopers killed outright or died of their wounds. Blunders due to incorrect and inadequate intelligence, or tactics designed for another enemy and war. I submit that the Governor has a portrait of General Custer as a reminder of the folly of war especially in regards to the overconfidence and arrogance of command.

    • Greg, Sickles was trying to start a war with Spain years prior to 1896. It was a movement that culminated with the Maine.

  8. This just shows another example of the left not being able to be like most adults and move on. Is this really how these people think things are supposed to be? See a picture, freak out and rally more idiots to make something out of nothing? These folks need to grow up and get a life. Real life isn’t like Facebook and Twatter(yes I meant that) where you have a mini rage and unfollow or report things because your are unable to deal with apparently anything. Right down to a picture of George Custer. Do they even understand his history? Do they know his whole story? NO! Like everything they judge without education. Even tho their own mantra is COEXIST. To do that you have to accept our past and embrace the history regardless. Tearing down statues and defacing are not coexisting. That is childish ignorance.
    Just like the recall effort. Don’t know who they think they are impressing…
    Who’s behind this agenda? I dislike sharing this state with people like this.. But I’m an adult, and I know how to adapt. The left? They will NEVER adapt.

    • The left is adapting, by not celebrating the dark stains that make the history of our country. It’s important to be informed. We as a nation should strive to do better and not celebrate people who have done nefarious deeds.

          • Yes he did. He was arrogant and wanted to run for president which he probably would have won. He left Gatling guns and artillery behind at fort Lincoln. Disregarded everything his scouts was telling him about the mile-wide turn up ground from tens of thousands of Indians as they marched, he split his forces, just made a big old rookie mistake for someone so experienced. He was respected by his enemies and wasn’t totally mutilated like the rest of his command that fell that day.

          • Bentene’s and Reno’s men were across the river roasting weinies and polishing their guns. The sounds they heard on that very hot day in June were not unlike the yelling heard during a sandlot football game.

  9. Greg, Sickles was trying to start a war with Spain years prior to 1896. It was a movement that culminated with the Maine.

  10. During the Cultural Revolution, the dictator in charge of the government used the apparatus of state to exhort his people to destroy the Four Olds. This is…a bunch of citizens saying that it’s weird and maybe distasteful that the guy in charge of their state government has a portrait of Custer on his wall.

    And it is, it’s weird. Plenty of brave Union generals who didn’t go on to massacre Natives (the incident at Washita was not deemed a massacre in retrospect by woke 21st century PC lefties, it was described by observers as such at the time. Observers in the US Army) and didn’t go on to have their entire commands wiped out.

    People are complex, history is an amalgam of grey areas and complexities, yes, I get all that. But it’s a weird choice.

    If anyone wishes to sneer at my whitewashed lefty views, come at me. I have a degree in history from the US Military Academy and I virtually guarantee you that I know more about the Civil War and the frontier wars than you do.

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