Shocked by Alabama, NPR Listeners Ask How ‘These People Call Themselves Americans’

• May 20, 2019 1:00 pm


NPR listeners are disgusted by the state of Alabama, and host Sasha-Ann Simons is airing their grievances.

On Monday’s episode of 1A, Simons filled in for regular host Joshua Johnson and examined liberal backlash against Alabama for its new abortion bill and the state of its prisons. NPR's email inbox and social media was awash in hatred for the state, Simons revealed, with some wondering how such a place could be part of the United States.

"It's hard to believe these people call themselves Americans," Margaret in Ann Arbor, Mich., wrote in an email, which was read on air by Simons.

"The state of Alabama should stop fighting the Civil War and join the USA," Margaret also said.

"You can imagine our email and our Twitter, it’s all blowing up right now, lots of comment," Simons told NPR’s Andrew Yeager, a host and reporter at WHBM, NPR affiliate in Birmingham, Ala. One Facebook commenter, Erin, questioned whether pro-life Alabama officials who passed new abortion restrictions really care about people's lives, since the Justice Department found squalid conditions in Alabama prisons and is now demanding reform.

Despite the Justice Department under President Donald Trump taking the lead in addressing Alabama's prison conditions, some NPR commenters still used the situation in Alabama's state government to attack Trump.

"Alabama is almost as embarrassing as our president," said a commenter, quoted by Simons.

After Simons read several of these insults about Yeager’s state, she asked him what he thought.

"I think it's a familiar position for people in Alabama, he said, "They're aware of how parts of the rest of the country see this state."

Yeager spoke for several minutes about prison reform in the state. After that, Simons read the comment from Margaret in Ann Arbor questioning Alabamians’ place in the USA. At that point in the episode, Simons moved on without asking Yeager for further comment about listeners’ hatred of his state.

Alabama's own Democratic senator, Doug Jones, said those who passed the abortion bill are "callous" and "extreme."