Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Thing About Iowa

So, some professor at the University of Iowa wrote an article for The Atlantic about Iowa. Well, I think it was supposed to be about Iowa's unsuitability at holding the first-in-the-nation caucus status, but it was hard to tell that his point wasn't just bashing Iowa until the very end of the article. As one of my dear parishioners wrote on his Facebook wall, "'Exaggerated Stereotypes, I'd like to introduce you to Assorted Facts. I think you'll get along well in this article,' said Dr. Bloom. 'Perhaps I will also include Inflammatory Remarks.'" What valid points he may have made (and there are a few valid points to be made) were lost in the sea of astonishingly inaccurate generalities and too-highly-weighted random facts and experiences.

Also, he really needed an editor. I can't get over how, on the one hand, we have all these cracked-out meth-heads and college students getting arrested for public intoxication, and on the the other hand, live in communities where the worst crime is tee-peeing a neighbors house. Which is it? Because, brother, it can't be both.

And he writes as if Iowa provincialism is some sort of unique trait to this heartland state. I lived in New York City for six years and I knew people who lived in fear of leaving the five boroughs for any reason (to be fair, some of them lived in fear of leaving just FOUR of the bureaus, if I may say so with apologies to my friends who live on Staten Island). True, NYC has more to commend it than does rural Iowa in terms of "stuff to do," but provincialism is provincialism, and it is everywhere in these United States. At least, it's everywhere I've been to (30+ states and counting).

If I may make one more point: as a Christian, I can almost promise you that when a college student tells you she's going to have to face a "come-to-Jesus talk" from her parents after being arrested for public intoxication, it probably doesn't mean her parents are going to tell her she needs to recommit herself to a life worthy of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It probably means they are going to remind her that they don't pay good money to send their student to the University of Iowa so she can get drunk and pass out in public. And possibly do so while yelling at her. The term "come-to-Jesus talk" is a colloquial expression and you should probably know that.

Actually, he probably DOES know that and was just trying to be inflammatory. Which is all the more stupid, I think, because it utterly weakened his case. I'm surprised the dude is actually a journalism professor. He should know better. He should WRITE better.

He's been threatened and supposedly is a little afraid for his life now. I have mock a little bit - surely he can't think these rural farmers too afraid to use the interstate or even leave their little counties are REALLY out to get him, can he? All kidding aside, this article isn't worthy of threats to his life. I think it represents a threat to his CAREER as a journalist, but he shouldn't be facing death threats or anything like that for this article. So knock it off, angry Iowans.

Dr. Bloom has done a disservice to his career and to the state that he has lived in for 20 years. (See a lovely response here.) But even still, permit me to point out that if his house is burned down or his family faces an unexpected medical crisis, those same people he has mocked and belittled by his caricatures in this article will show up with casseroles, paper plates, napkins, love and money to help him out. Even if they think he's an ass. He knows that.

Why shouldn't THOSE people be the ones to get first crack at choosing the next president?


Father Anonymous said...

One of my college roommates was a new Yorker afraid to leave ONE of the boroughs. Eighteen years in Manhattan, and he'd never even been to Brooklyn. He thought it was the country. (Mind you, we moved to Brooklyn at the same time, and he's lived there for the quarter-century since. Because Brooklyn is the greatest place on earth.)

Julie said...

Wonderful! You're the best.

Sunshine said...

I think most disturbing to me is the fact that as a journalist, Bloom overlooks the fact that correslation does not prove causation.

It is equally possible that though Iowa may not be representative of the rest of the nation in regards to culture, faith, or land use, Iowa may just be very representative of the core political values of the rest of the nation. Perhaps 86% of those who win the Iowa Caucus go on to win their party's nomination is an indication that the Heartland is precisely the place to go to take the political pulse of America.