Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Yesterday, Ricochet member @jimgeorge wrote about how he spent the day in the “real America.” You can find his piece here. According to George, it’s a place where everyone still loves America, the Founding Fathers, and the flag. It’s a place where people are warm and welcoming and guns and religion are referenced constantly. It is far, far away, we are assured, from the Clinton Archipelago.
Okay, so I need to push back against this a little.
@jimgeorge wanted to exclude New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Palo Alto from his list. Because, somehow, they are not the “real America.” Let me take that list in reverse order.
Palo Alto is the home to Hewlett-Packard, Skype, and a slew of other technology companies. It was the incubator or former headquarters of Google, Facebook, PayPal, Apple, and many more. The last 20 years of incredible prosperity in the United States wasn’t built on the back of dying steel mills and coal mines in the “real America,” it came from the creation and dispersal of information technology around the world, centered in Palo Alto.
Chicago is (and God help me, you’re making me defend Chicago) a center of American commerce and culture. The commerce part speaks for itself, so let me address one aspect of the culture part. America tends to take the best from around the world and make it our own, but there is a short list of art forms that are uniquely American inventions. One of them is rock and roll music. We would not have rock and roll music as we know it if it were not for Chicago blues, created by black musicians who came to Chicago during the Great Migration.
Los Angeles is the center of the American television and film industry. And by that, I mean the world’s television and film industry. The world watches American movies and American television. The world’s popular culture of the last hundred years came from Los Angeles. Not only is it a major source of culture, but a major center of American commerce based on selling that culture.
And then there’s New York City. I don’t know how else to put this: the most recognizable symbol of America in the world, other than the stars and stripes, is the Statue of Liberty. I don’t really need to make the case for New York City, do I? It’s the capital of the world. The idea that religion is somehow shunned there is ridiculous. Google Maps lists 96 churches there, including two of the most beautiful in the country. And that’s just Catholic churches in Manhattan.
I dislike the notion of the Clinton Archipelago. It overemphasizes the divisions in our country. Half the people who voted in 2016 voted for Hillary Clinton. That includes a large chunk of your friends and neighbors. Even in West Virginia, the state where Donald Trump won his highest percentage of the vote, a quarter of the people still voted for Hillary Clinton.
Now, I don’t deny that there are people in the above-mentioned places that hate America, God, the Founding Fathers, and apple pie. But you’ll find people like that everywhere. That doesn’t mean they’re not part of America. They’re still our countrymen. They’re still Americans.
America has always been a very big, very diverse place. If you look at the 13 colonies, there was incredible diversity, from Dutch patroons, to Virginia planters, to Pennsylvania Quakers, to New England Puritans, to Maryland Catholics, to the guys who split off from the New England Puritans because they couldn’t stand them. They had very different views about things, very different cultures, and very different values. But they were all Americans.
The truth is that there is no part of America that’s any more “real” than the rest of America. Dividing America up does the country a disservice. There’s much talk these days about division in America. Fostering that and furthering that does real harm, because once you decry “them” as an “other,” it’s not a big step to violence.
Whenever you’re tempted to divide “Red America” from “Blue America” or “Trump country” from “Clinton country,” or whatever other formulation that separates the people in “real America” from the people who live in “those parts” of the country, I ask you to remember one thing:
The most popular musical in America (all of America, not just the “real” parts) right now is about the Founding Fathers. It is a love letter to America and the American founding. And it was created in New York City by a man who was a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter.