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Will Doolittle: "Give us your tired of intrusion and oppression"

From the recently retired projects editor at the Glens Falls Post-Star, March 12, 2023.


"One of the untrue narratives that gets thrown around about New York is that its population is plunging. New York’s population grew 4.2 percent from 2010 to 2020, which puts it right in the middle of the 50 states — more than Arizona (3.3) and Kentucky (3.8) but less than Utah (18.4) and Nevada (15) and Idaho (17.3). New York’s growth, while not impressive, was nowhere near as terrible as the state’s naysayers claim, and the next couple of decades are likely to be better, for a couple of reasons.


First is climate change. Even southern New York is chilly in the winter, and Adirondackers can and do brag about living in one of the coldest places in the continental U.S. A low average temperature would not seem like a selling point, but as the world gets warmer, bringing fiercer hurricanes and rising sea levels to coastal states like Florida, cool and sheltered locations inland, like Glens Falls, look better and better.


Second is personal liberty, now under determined attack in Republican-led states around the country. In Florida, the Republican governor and Republican-dominated legislature have in the past couple of years restricted reading material in schools, leading to the emptying of bookshelves in classrooms and school libraries; passed laws curtailing discussions of gender, sexuality and Black history in schools, including a rejection of advanced placement African-American history; banned gender-affirming care for patients under 18; and prohibited abortion beyond 15 weeks of gestation, with a bill now under consideration that would lower the limit to six weeks.


The wording of these laws is vague — school reading materials must be, for example, “suited to student needs” — which means they can be stretched to make all sorts of proper and productive behavior illegal. Teachers, school administrators, doctors and parents are wary, and many are already self-censoring beyond the apparent meaning of the laws.

Prohibitions that target vulnerable groups of people, like Black families and trans teens, have a psychological spillover. When you already feel your place in society is precarious, a law that singles out your history or your gender identity for censorship is an affirmation that you’re not wanted.


For all those who are being pushed away from their homes in Florida and elsewhere, I suggest moving to New York — especially upstate. New York City, as impressive as it is, is also exhausting and expensive. But upstate, housing costs are low, quality of life high. Glens Falls, a lovely little city with beautiful parks, neighborhood schools and a charming downtown, has very nice homes for sale under $200,000. The Glens Falls area is full of mostly friendly, largely conservative folks. But any censorious impulses they may feel — to ban books with LGBTQ characters from school libraries, for example — are bound to fail, because New York state government is dominated by Democrats.


New York City contains such a large percentage of the state’s population, and that population is so heavily liberal, it’s unlikely the state will ever have both a conservative governor and legislature. So we’re safe from the attacks on women’s reproductive health care and the rights of transgender or gay and lesbian people to be themselves and express themselves, as everyone else can.


Here in upstate New York, we eat our cake and have it, too, by living in a lovely, safe, quiet rural area where personal liberties are protected. One of the great advantages of being a citizen of a huge and hugely diverse country like the United States is the ability to change your political and cultural environment just by moving between states. If you’re feeling worried about the way your children will be treated in school and other public places, we’d love to have you here in Glens Falls.


Republicans dominate upstate politics, but most of our politicians are reasonable and pragmatic, more concerned with getting things done for their constituents than parroting Fox News or exclaiming with emojis on Twitter. Elise Stefanik is the exception. For generations, northern New Yorkers have been retiring to Florida, but it’s time for the migration to flow the other way. Get out before the ocean — or the rising tide of Republican intolerance — chases you out."

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