9 months ago

My Home’s in Alabama…and I Love It

On a trip I took earlier this summer, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit New York City. I had never been there before, and a close personal friend offered to show me around. Leading up to the trip, he tried to describe the city to me as a “concrete jungle” and “the big apple,” but these phrases hardly do the city justice.

New York was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. It was loud, it was crowded, and it moved at a million miles a minute. The Empire State Building, Freedom Tower, Rockefeller Center — all testaments to the accomplishments of the human race — hover above the city like sentinels seen from miles away. The people from all walks of life sprint through the streets and bump into you, often without even noticing. It was a marvel to behold.

While New York is a fascinating place to visit for a few days, I could never live there. A city that never sleeps makes a soul grow tired, and it made me happy to return to my home in the Heart of Dixie.

I’m writing in defense of my home state, jokes about which have always been low-hanging fruit for comedians and so-called local political “commentators” that seem to get a rise out of kicking people they perceive as inferior. Most recently, NBC  ranked Alabama the worst state to live in, adding on to the pile of negative press. As a non-native Alabamian, however, I defend it from a unique perspective, as my family has chosen to live here not as a consequence of birth but by choice.

My family moved to Alabama shortly after I turned 13. Needless to say, as a young boy who had never lived anywhere outside of South Florida, I was not exactly pleased with the prospect. The first image that popped into my head was akin to the caricature of a hillbilly living off the grid and jamming to the tune of “Dueling Banjos.” I knew I was in for a culture shock, and it was a culture that I had been conditioned to think of as regressive and intolerant.

My family and I certainly experienced culture shock, but in a way that we failed to anticipate. Locals welcomed us with the utmost southern hospitality, always responded with a polite “yes, sir,” or “no, sir,” and treated us like family. Although we certainly have more land between my neighbors now than I did when I grew up, there is certainly less distance.

Alabama unfairly gets a bad rap, but then again I’m told that life is not fair. But the people in Alabama are amongst the kindest, most giving, and most hardworking of any that I’ve met across this great country. It’s a heck of a place to live, and that’s the God’s honest truth.

Alabama is fourth in the nation in cost of living, according to U.S. News and World Report, but the state’s critics won’t tell you that.  Alabama ranks in the top half for housing affordability, but the critics won’t tell you that. The state also ranks highly in pre-K quality, infrastructure, renewable energy usage,  and several other things, but you’ll never hear about any of those positive numbers because they don’t make for a good punchline.

Not to beat a dead horse, but Alabama’s culture is just hard to beat, and we often take it for granted.  When it comes to sports, it’s hard to find a more compelling matchup any year than the Iron Bowl. Between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers, the state has sent a representative to compete for the national championship every year since 2009.

Also, how quickly we forget the role that Alabama played in the formulation of some of the country’s biggest musical hits. Aside from native legends like Hank Williams, Sr., countless stars have recorded albums at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, with the Swampers (they’ve been known to pick a song or two).

And let’s not forget the element that makes Alabama such a special place: its faith. A 2016 Pew Research Poll found that Alabama is the most religious state in the union.  A similar study from Gallup in 2015 found that Alabama ranked third in frequent church attendance, with 47 percent of respondents stating they attend church weekly.

During my time in the Yellowhammer State, I have lived a safe, productive life, earned two degrees from a world-class University, met countless friends, and found community. Because of the culture, low cost of living, and low taxes I plan to live here for a long, long time.

This does not mean that I believe Alabama is perfect. It is not. And anyone who tells you that their home is immaculate lives in a fool’s paradise. Alabama can do a lot to move forward. But those who are the state’s staunchest critics believe that government — not everyday people — can do this, and they are dead wrong.

Alabama’s state politics have frequently been engulfed by scandal, corruption, and special interests that distract from positive changes necessary to unleash the freedom and prosperity needed to make Alabama better. If they were honest, Alabama’s critics would say that they’d rather us be more like NYC and Chicago — cities rife with crime and murder despite their strict anti-gun policies — than the way we are. When critics want to cede more power to those in Montgomery to accomplish their progressive goals, I say “No, thank you.”

In a time of alleged increasing tolerance, those that would like to be left in peace to their traditional way of life are often told they are not accepted and that they must get with the times. But what is being forwarded by today’s left is not actually tolerance, but forced conformity to their new standard of “social justice.”

All that is to say that I really don’t care much what those people think about Alabama. If they want to spend their lives trying to change people that do not want to change, that’s their prerogative. So bring on the barbecue and the college football. Bring on the “Yes ma’am,” and the Sunday morning service. Bring on the lake days and the hunting season. You can keep your skyscrapers; I’ll keep my Alabama.

Jordan LaPorta is an Alabama resident and a law student at the University of Alabama. He holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from UA and graduated from Hoover High School in 2013. He has written news articles and commentary for Yellowhammer News since 2015.

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7 mins ago

Students walked out of school on Columbine shooting’s 19th anniversary

Students walked out of school to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., Friday.

Students across the country staged a walkout to protest gun violence 19 years after the Columbine shooting in 1999, The Washington Post reported. Connecticut’s Ridgefield High School student Lane Murdock, 16, organized the walkouts in order to pay respects to the Columbine High School massacre, where seniors Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fired and killed 13 students and one teacher before killing themselves. Students from 2,500 different schools around the United States are expected to walk out of their high schools at 10 a.m. in their time zone to commemorate the tragedy, according to the HuffPost.

However, Columbine officials are less enthusiastic about the walkouts. Current principal Scott Christy and Frank DeAngelis, the principal during the 1999 shooting, wrote a letter, asking students to instead do a day of community service.

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“April has long been a time to respectfully remember our loss and also support efforts to make our communities a better place,” the letter read. “Please consider planning service projects, an activity that will somehow build up your school … as opposed to a walkout.” Columbine high school does not hold classes on the anniversary in a practice started in 2000 in order to pay respects to the victims. Many students instead volunteer at soup kitchens, read to preschoolers, and help clean up parks.

“We feel like doing anything on that day is disrespectful for the families of people who died,” Columbine high school sophomore Rachel Hill said. “There’s a time for protest, but it’s not that day.” Hill didn’t think high school’s respected or listened to Columbine’s opinions, in regards to the walkout, the sophomore added.

The walkouts follow the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., March 24. The rally was held to advocate for gun reform following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting spree in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

13 hours ago

Conservatives should stop using the phrase ‘fake news’

Liberals have overused the word “racist” so much that the adjective now lacks any commonly agreed upon definition, and that’s a shame because we need words — especially that word — to mean something.

Conservatives have now done the same thing with the phrase “fake news.”

And we need to stop.

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Are there racists? Of course, and where they are found, the label should indeed apply. The Alt-Right’s Richard Spencer is a racist. So is Jared Taylor.

But you’re not a racist if you believe our country should have borders. Or if you support law enforcement. Or if you believe in school choice.

Calling you a racist for supporting those things is the left’s attempt at shutting off debate and banishing those who advocate for such ideas.

Is there fake news? Of course, and just like the word “racist,” when it’s found, the label should apply. Dan Rather’s infamous story about George W. Bush’s record in the Air National Guard is a perfect example. It wasn’t true.

But news isn’t fake if it’s simply something you don’t like or would rather not hear. Or if it challenges your perspectives. Or if it, heaven forbid, says something unflattering about the president.

A racist is someone who actually hates people of another color and wishes them ill. Most people called ‘racist’ today are nothing of the sort.

Fake news means the story is a total fabrication. A lie. Complete fiction. Most stories called ‘fake news’ are also nothing of the sort.

In both cases, people making the charge simply want to delegitimize their opponent’s argument rather than make the mental and emotional effort to challenge their ideas.

The casualty of such total weakness is not just words, but thought itself.

As our fellow Alabamian Helen Keller wrote in her memoir, she wasn’t able to really think until words entered her mind that day at the water pump.

Words opened Helen Keller’s mind.

Don’t allow words to close yours.

14 hours ago

Grand jury considers Alabama woman’s stabbing of husband with sword

A grand jury in Alabama will hear the case of a woman accused of fatally stabbing her husband with a sword.

Authorities say 50-year-old Jeannette Hale stabbed her husband, Mark, in the chest while he played a guitar in their home on April 2.

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Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell tells AL.com that responding deputies found Mark Hale bleeding on their front porch. The sword was in the yard.

Mitchell says the husband later died at a hospital. An autopsy released Wednesday said the cause was complications of being stabbed.

The sheriff says Jeanette Hale was arrested on charges involving domestic violence and drugs.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

15 hours ago

Poly Sci 101: Gov. Ivey’s monument ad is a prime case of political framing

“Special interests” and “politically correct nonsense” are responsible for efforts to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces, Gov. Kay Ivey says in a recent campaign ad.

At a campaign appearance earlier this week in Foley, Ivey made similar statements on the issue.

“We must learn from our history. And we don’t need folks in Washington or out of state liberals telling us what to do in Alabama,” she said, according to Fox 10 News. “I believe it’s more important that if we want to get where we want to go, we’ve got to understand where we’ve been. And I believe that the people of Alabama agree with that decision and support protecting all of our historical monuments.”

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The conversation about Confederate monuments raises some intellectually and morally stimulating questions: What is their function? Do they function as objects of praise or as objects of historical memory? Who ought to determine whether they stay or go?

I’ll leave those questions aside for now because I want to address how Gov. Ivey has articulated the monuments issue.

George Lakoff is a cognitive scientist who has done a lot of research examining how politics and language intersect, particularly how language is used by individuals and groups to present their opponents in ways that welcome easy refutation. Usually, this means the misrepresentation of those ideas or opponents or, at the very least, a simplistic representation of them.

Lakoff refers to this as the act of “framing,” calling “frames” the arguments or scenarios set up by framing.

Here are a few assumptions that Ivey’s frame makes: Monuments are not only a way to learn from our history, but they are central to learning from our history; non-Alabamians and political enemies are trying to tell us what to do in advocating for monuments’ removal; monuments are a way to ensure that Alabama gets “where it wants to go,” politically, socially, culturally; that Alabamians are opposed to monument removal.

There are obvious political benefits to framing the issue this way. Knowing our history is clearly important. Who could argue that? Alabama is a sovereign state. Nobody wants outsiders tampering with decision-making.

What the frame excludes is an argument demonstrating why monuments are central to learning from our history, and how their removal would prevent us from learning from our history. It also excludes names of individuals or groups who have come from afar to tell us what to do.

It’s undeniable that folks from all around the country want Confederate monuments removed all around the country, and some may even be funding that effort from afar, but the major weakness of Ivey’s frame is a failure to acknowledge the Alabamians who are arguing for monument removal.

Birmingham City officials have advocated their removal.

Tuskegee Mayor Tony Haygood said the city has considered the removal of a Confederate soldier monument in the middle of town.

A Tuskegee graduate wrote a petition last year to the have the same monument removed. The petition garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

City officials in Selma have shown a similar resolve over the years, if not to have a monument removed then to cease the city’s contribution to its maintenance.  

Obviously, Ivey doesn’t have time in a 30-second ad to deconstruct the monument debate’s complexity, and I understand that, but her frame doesn’t accurately articulate who is representing the monument removal view in Alabama.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

15 hours ago

Alabama legislators should follow Iowa’s lead in protecting the unborn

“If we conservatives truly believe abortion is what we say it is — the butchering of an unborn person — then ending the practice must be our top priority.”

Those were the words of Yellowhammer’s very own J. Pepper Bryars last week in an article he wrote after Congress failed, once again, to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal dollars.

Bryars couldn’t have been more accurate in his criticism, but I believe his words are also an indictment of the entire pro-life movement. For far too long we have played defense on the issue of abortion, attempting to hold the status quo while never really producing any substantial legislation on the issue. Not since Casey in June of 1992 have we attempted to make any real challenge to Roe v. Wade.

It’s for that reason that Alabama should follow in the footsteps of the lawmakers from our sister state of Iowa, who last month passed one of the strongest pro-life bills we have seen in decades.

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Iowa Senate bill 2281 (the text of which can be found here), known as the Heartbeat Billwould legally prevent all abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat has been discovered, except in the very rare case of a medical emergency.

In other words, only when it is concluded by medical personnel that the life of the mother is in danger can an abortion be performed. Not only does it not make the exception for rape and incest as pro-choice legislators like to commonly reference, but it would also charge any doctor that performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected with a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Why this matters: The earliest fetal heartbeats can be detected is 5-6 weeks after conception, which is right about the time most women are initially discovering they are pregnant. However, new research from the University of Oxford suggests that a fetal heartbeat may be detected as early as 16 days after conception. With the risk of women dying during childbirth decreasing significantly since the 1970s and the recent trends in fetal research, it is clear that a bill such as this could effectively end 99% of abortions statewide.

Also, by creating legislation that defines life as beginning the moment the first detectable heartbeat is discovered we will be using the same red line that is already in use by most professionals in the medical community.

If I were driving home from work one night and had a terrible car accident, medical personnel after arriving on scene and finding me unconscious would immediately check for a pulse indicating whether I had a detectable heartbeat. If a detectable heartbeat is found, I would be considered a living person. If a heartbeat can be used by the medical community as a means of declaring when a person is living after birth, then it makes no sense why we wouldn’t use the same scientifically backed means of declaring life prior to birth.

For far too long the pro-life movement has focused on arguments surrounding fetal viability and gestational timelines, allowing our opponents on the issue the opportunity to define the terms of the debate for us.

Finally, simply passing a bill such as Iowa’s heartbeat bill would only be the beginning of the fight. There is no doubt that the ACLU, SPLC, and every pro-choice organization in the country would descend upon our state capital like locust filing every legal challenge to the bill imaginable. They would organize large protests where people in hats resembling female genitalia will gnash their teeth, but the resulting legal challenge would finally give us the opportunity to eventually stand before the Supreme Court and reargue the merits of the worst decision it has produced since Plessy v. Ferguson.

So, it is incumbent upon our legislators to truly reflect on the very pointed philosophical question Bryars raised regarding what we truly believe as conservatives on the issue of protecting unborn life.

Do you, Governor Kay Ivey, believe as you so eloquently stated that “fighting for our freedoms means fighting for the unborn”?

Do the members of our State Legislature and the pro-life community believe this as well?

If so, then the time has long since passed for us to stand by our words and attack Roe at its very core.

@dannybritton256 is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and lives in Athens.