Sunday, November 9, 2008

Some Thoughts from Inside
the Reddest of the Red States

By now I am sure that all you listeners of the Stephanie Miller Show and other political geeks who have surveyed the aftermath of this most historical election have not failed to note that not one county in the state of Oklahoma voted for President-Elect Barack Obama. I was not completely surprised, after all my address has been here in Tulsa, Oklahoma for more than seven years, but I was disappointed. I was sad to hear that Stephanie Miller will never come to Oklahoma and hear Chris Lavort agreed that there is simply no reason for Oklahoma to exist. But alas, Oklahoma does exist, and has come to stand for the home of the most-backward, most-conservative, most-regressive, less-evolved people in this country. Oklahoma sends two of the most conservative, narrow-minded, even bigoted Senators to Washington, D.C. (Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe). Oklahoma is also home to one of the most homophobic, hate-filled state representatives anywhere in America, Sally Kern. But unlike the impression the all-red map may give, Oklahoma is also home to many who run against the stream of hate and fear and homophobia and bigotry. Oklahoma has a Democratic Governor (Brad Henry) and also boasts the headquarters of INDN's List - an Indian organization founded by an amazing Democratic, ultra-progessive woman named Kalyn Free who is a member of the Choctaw Nation and was born and reared in the state of Oklahoma. INDN's List recruits, trains, and supports PROGRESSIVE Native candidates for local, state and national office. Tulsa, Oklahoma also recently openned the sixth largest LGBT Center, the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, in the country, and has an active, vibrant Gay Community in Tulsa and OKC. Oklahoma City was recently represented by the first gay, Native (Choctaw) man (Al McAffrey) to ever serve in the Oklahoma State House.

I have been admonished by friends who live in Madison, Wisconsin and Albuquerque, NM, and even Los Angeles, California - all true blue parts of the country, that I should leave Oklahoma and escape the oppresive atomosphere that surely hangs over each day I spend in this backwater state. But as Margaret Cho wrote after Bush was elected for the second time by the very same mentality that has kept Oklahoma so very red, "I have chosen to stay and fight."

I have a great job in which I work with fellow progressives who all cast thier votes (I am sure) for Barack Obama. I live in a part of the country that has a rich Native heritage (there are 38 Federally-Recognized Tribal Nations in Oklahoma). I live in a city that has two superb art museums (the Philbrook and the Gilcrease Museums) and a very cool movie theater (Circle Cinema) that brings plenty of independent and foreign films to town. Within a five mile radius of my house I can have any kind of food (Indian, Greek, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, Thai) I desire and most of it is close to authentic if not the real McCoy.

On one hand, I am ashamed that my fellow Oklahomans went into the voting booth last Tuesday and by an overwhelming majority (65.4% to 34.6%) cast their votes for McPalin, but I also know that if the 34.6% of us up and left the state, then Oklahoma would be forever lost to the dark forces that promote hate, fear and intolerance. And the land of Oklahoma, that began its life in this country as the Indian Territory, and boasts the last patch of natural tall grass prairie in the country, is better than the redneck image the rest of the nation has of it. Plus never forget that Oklahoma is also home to the Radical Militant Librarian of the Stephanie Miller Show and that's gotta count for something - Rock on Steph, Chris, Jim and Rebekah - please don't forget that you have a fan and a friend in Oklahoma (and I'm not talking about the ghost of Will Rogers or the very much alive Mary Kay Place). So please don't write us off completely...Oklahoma may one day be okay.


Anonymous said...

You Rock this red state!! Glad you're gonna stick around.

Michael said...

I was deeply saddened to see the extent of red in the state of Oklahoma. Christ, even Utah and Idaho had blue pockets! I am glad to here you will stay and fight because I would pack up and run for the blue.

Michael from Eugene, Oregon