Monday, August 03, 2009

Dan Fagan Becomes a Man

I stopped writing about Dan Fagan's column a long time ago. But I have to break that silence now. In yesterday's column in the ADN Dan Fagan tells us:
Too much of what was coming out of my radio show, Web site, and Sunday column was unwholesome. For some reason I had convinced myself it was my job to run down and criticize others. It is one thing to analyze policy and issues. It is an entirely different thing to tear down someone's character with personal attacks.

I will tell you I am ashamed of the way I have conducted myself publicly in recent years and frankly I am embarrassed by it too.

I have tried on this blog to focus on policy and not personality, not always as successfully as I would like. When Dan's newspaper column began, I tore his words (not him) apart pretty ruthlessly. (But I learned as a teacher that separating one's words from one's identity is not easy. Even if you stay strictly on the content and the grammar, it can be painful for the recipient.) When some humanity showed through in his columns I saw that as a good sign that there was another Dan Fagan inside there fighting to come out.

In August 2007 Dan wrote about what a good man his father was. Dan wrote and I quoted him:
He modeled a life of character, integrity and honesty. But most importantly he showed me how to treat a woman.

When a man is a real man, he does more to help build a better society than a hundred thousand government programs.

Manhood is not about I. It's about service, sacrifice, devotion, selflessness.

Manhood is about respecting, honoring, and yes, even loving.

I went on in that post to speculate that perhaps Dan's ranting was projection, that he was angry at himself for not living up to model his father set.
Dan just doesn't live up to that great role model he's just praised as "the kind of man we need to make this country work right." Is Dan really ranting against the world because he can't face the fact that he doesn't live up to the expectations set by his Dad? According to Wikipedia

psychological projection (or projection bias) is a defense mechanism in which one attributes to others one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts or/and emotions. Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted subconscious impulses/desires without letting the ego recognize them.

Could this be Dan really talking about himself:

But where are the men today? Why are so many obsessed with their own needs instead of their families?

On July 27, 2007 I saw some improvements and asked if they meant Dan was going to start spreading happiness instead of bellyaching:
But let's give Dan some credit here. He even recognizes some subtleties - that some people are unhappy because of chemical imbalances or real tragedies. Dan's taken some big steps in his articles. And in today's he tells us that spreading happiness is much more important than 'bellyaching.

'Dan, are you going to follow your advice and spread happiness on the air, or are you going to keep bellyaching?
Perhaps Dan gained some self confidence with all the attention he got from his radio shows and his newspaper column. Enough to recognize that he wasn't using his power to make people happy, but to spread negativity. But now that he's gotten some of what he wanted, it's empty. He writes he's lost the joy in his work.

But he also wisely wonders how this will affect him. I'm guessing he's asking the same question I've been asking. Do people really have to dump on others to get ratings?

Does this change mean I will lose many of my radio listeners? Perhaps. But recently I've lost the joy in my work. It has become a grind. I now know why. If my profession calls for tearing down others to be successful, then I'll just have to find another career.

I suspect that the listeners who tuned you in regularly did so because you reflected their feelings. This is not an easy world to succeed in. Our national myths push the idea that if we just plug along and work hard, we will be successful. So there are a lot of people out there who either have to face the truth about themselves (they aren't strong, they aren't working hard) or they have to find scapegoats to blame. When people talk about systemic obstacles to success, many just dismiss them as 'socialists' because that doesn't seem to fit our ideals about rugged individualists. But it isn't just socialists who talk about helping others. Christians do that too.

Dan, it seems you've broken through some of the morass. You recognize that what you've been doing - gaining a local following (and a fair amount of flak as well) by tearing down others - isn't what your Dad taught you to do. It isn't what your religion tells you to do. Now perhaps you can help your followers get past that teenage rebellion stage and take responsibility for their actions and grow up, like you seem to be doing. You even apologized to the people you wronged.

In conclusion, I want to publicly apologize to Sarah Palin, Sean Parnell, Hollis French, Art Hackney, Mark Begich, Frank Murkowski, Matt Claman, Lisa Murkowski, Don Young, Ivan Moore and too many others that limited space won't allow me to name.

Dan, I've learned in life that inside every person I meet, no matter how much I may dislike what they say and do, there is a real human being. If I can connect with that real human being, I know that I will like that person. You've shown glimpses and now your human has come out on center stage.

I'm truly happy for you and for the extra energy and power for good our community gains. I am confident that now your successes will come from leading a life that is consistent with what your Dad has taught you. I'm sure there were/will be tears in his eyes when he reads this column. (You wrote about your Dad dying of cancer back in March. I don't know if he's moved on to another place or not. Wherever he is, I know that he knows about this column.)

I would also note, that this forgiveness thing isn't limited to Dan Fagan. Nils Andreassen writing at Think Alaska made a similar kind of apology to Sarah Palin yesterday too.

[Update Monday afternoon: I got that is out a little faster than I probably should have. There's a section above where I've left between-the-lines some of the steps in my logic. I talked about 'systemic changes' and then jumped to 'helping others.' I'd say the rugged individual model makes it hard for some to acknowledge how social, economic, legal, and political structures can set up obstacles for some people to succeed. Fishers know how changes in the law have favored some and put others pretty much out of work. We all know how our choice of employer (or losing our employer) can mean we are cut out of much of the health care system. So, those who acknowledge that not being materially successful is not always caused by lack of grit or by laziness, are more willing to help those on hard times, either personally or through supporting policy changes that result in needed assistance.

Also, while Dan has apologized and stated his new goals very publicly, this is a significant change in behavior. So I will try to support him when he walks his talk and I'll be tolerant if he slips into old habits, so long as he acknowledges them as slip-ups and renews his commitment to the new Dan.]


  1. On Friday Fagan wrote about the "mind of a criminal"
    He wrote 'Criminals have never been known for their good sense, integrity or intelligence."
    Fagan stole multiple pictures from my website and then threatened ME when I confronted him. Good sense, integrity or intelligence are three qualities Fagan does not possess.

  2. Maybe enlightenment happened on Saturday.

  3. "Maybe enlightenment happened on Saturday."
    OR, maybe since his ratings are falling it's time to try a new tactic.

  4. I don't think these guys should be apologizing to Sarah Palin -- she has reaped what she's sown and deserved every bit of criticism thrown her way. It's because people like Dan Fagan publicly criticized and called attention to her unethical behavior that we are now blessed with her resignation. Alaska can now move forward in a positive way. For that I thank him.

  5. Dennis-- that is a drag. Let us hoep he was slipping ack to his mask when he threatened you.

    I've not been ale to listen to him because even though I lean right politicically, he'd turn me off with what he said and I'd not support it simply because he said it.

    If it is a new Dan, a Dan who has been hiding, or one who is stepping up because the ratings are slipping, I support his new image.


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