Commentary: Forrest Dunbar provides lesson in leadership

By Dermot Cole
For The Cordova Times

Anchorage Assembly member Forrest Dunbar showed grace under pressure as he tried to reason with an Anchorage businessman who taunted him with the Star of David.

The Alaska Landmine captured this powerful example of a mature leader doing his best to deal with someone who is out of control.

Skip Myers, the owner of Rainbow International of Anchorage, a franchise cleaning business, sat in the front row as the assembly heard public testimony and held up an imitation Star of David and pointed at Dunbar, who is Jewish.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has recklessly created a frenzy by his exaggerated response to the proposed mask mandate and many people are getting carried away.

After the meeting, Jeff Landfield of the Alaska Landmine interviewed Dunbar and Dunbar mentioned the need for a thick skin. They talked about Myers pointing at Dunbar when Myers walked up and joined the interview, becoming part of the conversation.

One of the big things here is that Dunbar did not raise his voice and did not make the situation worse by responding in kind to Myers. His patience and focus in the minutes that followed was admirable.

Dunbar remained polite and did not waiver from the essential point—there is no comparison between killing millions because of racial hatred and wearing masks to protect everyone from a pandemic that is causing real suffering.

Dunbar asked Myers what he was trying to communicate if it wasn’t an anti-Semitic act.

“It was taking away our personal freedoms just like they did in Nazi Germany. And those people, those Jewish people, that went to gas chambers, as being all of their civil rights and all of their civil liberty, absolutely destroyed. Now they went to the gas chamber and burned to death. That is not anti-Semitic. That is me pointing out a very real fact that most people have absolutely forgotten about,” Myers said.

Dunbar said that Jewish leaders have asked people to stop making this comparison because the mask mandate for public health has nothing to do with the Holocaust.

“There is no comparison,” said Myers, who kept shaking his head.

Dunbar said he agreed there is no comparison because it minimizes the toll of the Holocaust. “You’re comparing mask mandates and things like that to the eradication of the Jews,” Dunbar said.

“You leftists have no ability to hear reason. Zero,” said Myers. “I just told you that my statement was not an anti-Semitic statement. Did I or did I not say that? Did I or did I not say that?”

Dunbar responded: “You said it, but I’m telling you why it is.”

“No, you are telling me. You are dictating to me what I said,” said Myers.

Dunbar said that comparing the mask mandate as a public health safety measure for everyone with the murder of the Jews “minimizes the suffering of the Jewish people.”

Myers shook his head repeatedly and said, “No, I’m not saying that. Nope.”

Dunbar said, “I’m not saying you intend that. I’m saying that’s what it does. That’s what I tried to communicate to you. That’s what other Jewish leaders have tried to communicate.”

Myers said Dunbar was dictating to him and was “100 percent false.”

“But you agree the Holocaust is in no way similar to a mask mandate?” Dunbar said.

“Oh no, it’s 100 percent similar. Our civil liberties are being destroyed. The Alaska State Constitution, the U.S. Constitution are absolutely violated with these mask mandates,” Myers said.

“So the purpose of the Star of David that you brought and you were flashing toward me was to make a comparison between the Holocaust and mask mandates,” asked Dunbar.

“Correct. Absolutely,” said Myers, who had denied this a few minutes earlier.

Another woman walked up and said, “We’re trying to say. Stop. We don’t need to suffer anymore.”

This woman claimed that masks don’t work, which is false. She also claimed that wearing a mask is suffering, which is absurd.

Dunbar said the Germans went after minorities and killed millions. It was not about public health. It was all about bigotry.

“What we’re talking about is a broad-based health policy for everyone. We want everyone except for those who really physically can’t do it or have a religious exemption to use this thing to hopefully slow down the spread of this deadly disease,” Dunbar said.

Myers blamed Dunbar because someone complained about his business and anti-Semitic remarks.

As the exchange continued, Dunbar said what Myers said was “inappropriate.” Myers cursed him a few times and walked away, saying “You are absolutely full of f—g s—.”

Dave Bronson defeated Dunbar in the Anchorage mayor’s race. Bronson issued a lame “I’m sorry if you were offended” apology about people brandishing the Star of David.

Bronson’s main job now is to get people to calm down. He needs to stop making the situation worse. He should look to Dunbar’s handling of this incident for a lesson in leadership.