After last week’s abortion ruling, and the surrounding outrage, I continue to hear from people who want to know what they can do to protect their rights and to stop this insanity.
The answers are easy.
Speak up. Get involved early. Vote for your own interests. And research the candidates.
But mostly, speak the hell up.
Alabama’s biggest problem today isn’t racism or misogyny, it isn’t crooked politicians or far-right legislation.
It’s a fear of ostracism.
It’s a fear of being shunned by the church groups or written off as a loon by your friends. It’s a fear of being uninvited to the weekend get-togethers or the summer beach trips. It’s a fear of being ridiculed at family gatherings or snubbed by co-workers. It’s a fear of missing out on business opportunities — the big sale or the next promotion.
And look, I get it. Believe me, do I ever get it.
I’ve lost at least two radio shows, each of which were doing pretty well. The Montgomery Advertiser was planning to kill off what was its most popular opinion column to appease conservatives when I left there. And I didn’t even get started using my real estate license (which is just a side hustle) before people were harassing the poor broker who was nice enough to hold it for me.
So, yeah, I get it.
But you don’t have to be like me. You don’t have to live it every day. You just have to speak up for what you believe in and inject facts and rational thought into the conservative group-think that dominates Alabama life.
You don’t have to be obnoxious or annoying. You don’t have to be overbearing. But your point of view is important — every bit as important as the one coming from the other side — and you shouldn’t be afraid to share it.
After all, if they get to freely spout off the wrong opinion, why can’t you voice the correct one?
Trust me, any friend you lose over such a thing was never really a friend to begin with. And any family member who chooses political ideology over family is a jackass.
The fact is, though, we’re not all that different — not most of us. Yeah, there are a few weirdos to the far end of each spectrum, but about 90 percent of this state is maybe one or two issues from almost complete agreement.
The problem is we’ve allowed the fringes to seize on those one or two issues to drive a wedge between us, and to make it so one side is discouraged from talking. Because if you talk, the majority of the other side starts to realize that they mostly agree with you.
And we can’t have that.
So, the “lib’ruls” have been shunned to the corners and made to feel that they’ll be ostracized if they ever voice their opinions.
You wouldn’t believe the number of emails I get that start with the line, “please don’t share my name,” because the person who wrote it doesn’t want to lose business or be blackballed. I’ve had Republican lawmakers call me to say they agree with my columns but could never say so publicly.
We have to change this. And the only way to do so is for those of us who carry a little different outlook on this world and this state to speak up. And for the rest of us to support them when they do.
We need to create lists of friendly businesses — people who support good causes, who lend a hand to local schools and make donations to local charities and who don’t support hate and discrimination — and make sure we support them.
None of this, mind you, is to stifle speech from the other side or harm anyone who believes differently. It’s simply a counterbalance to the dominating rhetoric from the right in this state — a way to let people know that it is OK to hold a different viewpoint.
Because not only is it right, it’s the most American thing you can do. This country was built on compromise, and our government works best when the two sides are forced to work together to appease the masses.
We don’t have that in Alabama, haven’t had it for a long, long time. Which probably explains why we’re last in everything good and first in everything bad.
There’s only one way to change that: Speak up.