Oh dear, another politician has said something really dumb about slavery. Anchorage, Alaska Mayor Dan Sullivan, who is running for Congress, compared joining a union to slavery, saying, “Nobody should have to basically pay someone else to get a job in this state — I mean, we got rid of slavery a long time ago.”

Slaves for sale posterSure, having to pay dues to an organization of your fellow workers whose function is to protect your rights and make sure you get paid adequately is just like being owned by another human being and having to work for free, with no rights whatsoever.Then, adding insult to injury, Sullivan defended his remark by saying it had “no racial connotations.” Yeah. Right. Maybe in some parallel universe.  Later, he backtracked and issued the standard half-apology, saying he was sorry “if the use of the word offended anyone.”

I’m not being hypercritical or politically correct here. Words have meanings, and in this country, the word “slavery” has a meaning that is inextricably linked to some really ugly history. It’s not too much to ask candidates for Congress to remember that.