I Spend Every Day in America — A Response to Jim George

 

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.

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  1. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    Jeff Hawkins (View Comment):

    Depends if you think this entails the right to not pay for others’ mistakes

    Universal health care, welfare, pushes for rent control and student debt forgiveness tend to fall into this category for many people.

    Specifically relating to farmers the Farm Bill every year is pork for farmers. There are plenty of mechanisms in the bill which work to insulate farmers from market pressures. Hardly paying for their own mistakes.

    • #31
  2. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I never used to believe in these sorts of divisions, until I went to college and met a bunch of people from the North East. Then I understood the contempt they had for me and my state. 

    I went to a little private college in NC which had a pretty large contingent of New Yorkers.  I never had this feeling.

    • #32
  3. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    This is real … and it is anti-America … by choice.

    • #33
  4. Jim George Member
    Jim George
    @JimGeorge

    Thank you, @fredcole, for your thoughtful response to my reflections on our day in the country.

    I would, with the utmost respect, offer these two thoughts, not really responses, for reasons which will be obvious.

    First:

    Amendment I.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;  or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.”

    Second:

    God Bless America!

    Sincerely, Jim

     

    • #34
  5. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    The people of the North East look down on me because I am from the South.

    I am one of the people of the North East and I dispute this statement.

    I do not look down on you because you are from the South.

    It is not true that the North is “up” from the South or that I am at a higher elevation than you, so I don’t literally look down on you.

    I also don’t figuratively look down on you with regional disdain, although regional disdain for those living in other regions is not isolated to the Northeastern part of the US.

    I remember being in Alabama in a car with Massachusetts plates.

    “Massachusetts!” said a local yokel with surprise. “Why would anyone wanna go back there?”

    Why indeed.

    • #35
  6. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):
    You should at least do the honors of using the sarc/ markings

    I don’t know about you, but I like to think I’m smart enough to figure out when someone’s being funny without “sarc/” markings. I find your choice of the word “honors” to be suspect…

    • #36
  7. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    I remember being in Alabama in a car with Massachusetts plates.

    “Massachusetts!” said a local yokel with surprise. “Why would anyone wanna go back there?”

    Why indeed.

    This is true.  If I have disdain for anywhere, it’s Massachusetts.  

    • #37
  8. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Fred Cole (View Comment):
    If I have disdain for anywhere, it’s Massachusetts.

    That’s pretty funny.

    The drivers from Mass are pretty wild. It’s best to be wary of those license plates…

    • #38
  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    The people of the North East look down on me because I am from the South.

    I am one of the people of the North East and I dispute this statement.

    I do not look down on you because you are from the South.

    It is not true that the North is “up” from the South or that I am at a higher elevation than you, so I don’t literally look down on you.

    I also don’t figuratively look down on you with regional disdain, although regional disdain for those living in other regions is not isolated to the Northeastern part of the US.

    I remember being in Alabama in a car with Massachusetts plates.

    “Massachusetts!” said a local yokel with surprise. “Why would anyone wanna go back there?”

    Why indeed.

    Just because you did not have my experience, it does not mean I have not. 

     

    • #39
  10. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Fred Cole (View Comment):
    If I have disdain for anywhere, it’s Massachusetts.

    That’s pretty funny.

    The drivers from Mass are pretty wild. It’s best to be wary of those license plates…

    That’s because Massachusetts is objectively terrible.

    • #40
  11. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Just because you did not have my experience, it does not mean I have not. 

     

    I want to validate your experience, Bryan.

    I support your reality.

    However, as a person of the North East, I wanted to call you out on your vast over-generalization of folks around here.

    Seemingly half of my parish has just left New York for the South, by the way. I won’t see them again til next year…

    • #41
  12. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Fred Cole: 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.

    I really disagree with this. The thing that I object to is the homogenization of America. There are McDonalds everywhere. Starbucks everywhere.  I grew up in the South. The South was weird and different from other parts of the country. And it was “other”. It was all the same country, nevertheless.

    My family would take long roadtrips in the summer to visit relatives in New York and New England. And for me that was “other”. The accents were different, the way they looked at the world was different. But they were also family. There was not the slightest idea that there would be violence as a result of “other”. 

    I like “other” and think there isn’t enough of it. It is the interminable homogenization process that I object to.

    • #42
  13. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Fred Cole: 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.

    I really disagree with this. The thing that I object to is the homogenization of America. There are McDonalds everywhere. Starbucks everywhere. I grew up in the South. The South was weird and different from other parts of the country. And it was “other”. It was all the same country, nevertheless.

    My family would take long roadtrips in the summer to visit relatives in New York and New England. And for me that was “other”. The accents were different, the way they looked at the world was different. But they were also family. There was not the slightest idea that there would be violence as a result of “other”.

    I like “other” and think there isn’t enough of it. It is the interminable homogenization process that I object to.

    I have no problem with that. I’m all about diversity. 

    My objection is to the idea is that somehow parts of the country are not “real America.”  

    • #43
  14. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Fred Cole (View Comment):
    If I have disdain for anywhere, it’s Massachusetts.

    That’s pretty funny.

    The drivers from Mass are pretty wild. It’s best to be wary of those license plates…

    Two stories:

    First one. As I was leaving Logan Airport after getting back from NC, I got passed by a taxicab.  On the one-lane onramp to the Interstate.  In the snow.

    Second one. I was driving up to New Hampshire to ski at Loon Mountain, when I missed my exit.  I decided to turn around, so I got off the Interstate, then came to a light behind two cars.  All I had to do was turn left, wait for the next light, then make another left to get back onto the Interstate.  The traffic was so heavy, we sat at the light through 3 or 4 light cycles because there was no room to pull into the far lane.  Finally, during the next green light, the two cars in front of me pulled out into the left-hand lane (which was empty) and made a beeline to the onramp.  I followed them and got back on the Interstate.  I figured, when in Rome . . .

    • #44
  15. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Wow, talk about taking things literally but not seriously…  Yes, of course New York City is part of the United States.  That can easily be seen by looking at a map.  But no, the people of New York City and other urban areas do not think the same way, or value the same things, or want the same government as the people who live in most of the geographic territory of the Untied States.  That can also easily be seen by looking at an election map.  The fact that there are some people in those urban areas who dissent from the dominant urban (or “cosmopolitan” or “elite” or just plain leftist) ideology does not change the fact that said ideology is starkly different from the ideas that (at least to me) define the “Real America.”

    When I hear the phrase “Real America” I don’t think of geography.  Obviously, that is not what it means.  To me the phrase “Real America” means the places and people that embrace the ideas of the Founding – for example, free speech, due process, limited government, freedom of contract, and federalism as embodied in such Constitutional institutions as the Electoral College.  The leftists who concentrate themselves in large cities and insulate themselves from anyone who dissents from their beliefs are not part of the “Real America” as I understand that phrase.  America is unique in the world because being an American does not depend on geography, but rather on embracing the ideas on which America was founded.  The left does not embrace those ideas, or even accept those ideas.

    And by the way, Fred, the leftists use the phrase “un-american” all the time.  Mirriam-Webster defines “un-american” as “not characteristic of or consistent with American customs, principles, or traditions.”  The left has its ideas about American customs, principles and traditions, and I have mine.  And if they think that I am un-american, then I can certainly think that they are not real Americans.

    • #45
  16. Gaius Inactive
    Gaius
    @Gaius

    I see a lot of the pot calling the kettle black on this thread. It’s popular among today’s new nationalists to deride American exceptionalism as globalist nonsense or to dismiss the notion that American patriotism is about more than blood and soil. If self-conscious fidelity to the ideals of the founding is the test for who gets to be a real American then trump country doesn’t pass the test any better than Clinton country. I could argue that my home state and other Cruz primary bastions are the last enclaves of the real America, but I won’t because Americanness is about culture as much as ideology. Luckily we live better than we think and the culture of openness and entrepreneurship is going strong across every part of this country, even where classical liberal ideas aren’t given due credit for giving birth to it. Fred’s whole point is that our largest cities are our greatest examples of that culture. Spend any time in a foreign capital and you’ll see the difference. Americans still ask “who’s going to stop me?” while others ask “who’s going to let me?” That’s true regardless of geographic location or party affiliation.

    As far as urban condescension toward “flyover” Trump country, again, physician heal thyself. Conservatives can’t open their mouthes for half a minute without letting out some crack about coastal pajama boys or elite girly men. The only difference is that the left premises it’s sense of superiority on supposedly greater cultural and academic attainment while the right believes itself to embody a superior masculine ideal. I don’t think either side has an at all accurate impression of the other (or itself) but you can forgive me if I don’t fault one form of self-flattery more than another.

    • #46
  17. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen
    @tommeyer

    Hank Rhody, Red Hunter (View Comment):

    Nobody in Wisconsin is banning plastic straws, or drinks over 16 oz. Small town America didn’t decry George Washington as a racist, or bandy the notion that halloween costumes are cultural appropriation. It wasn’t rural counties that started measuring intersectionality or demanding that the rest of us check our privilege. 

    You ever been to Vermont? ;)

    • #47
  18. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen
    @tommeyer

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Just because you did not have my experience, it does not mean I have not. 

    @bryangstephens, I have no doubt that you’ve been on the receiving end of anti-Southern bigotry. I’ve seen it in my own life and it’s both uninformed and ugly.

    Like @cbtoderakamamatoad, though, I agree that it’s 1) Neither as widespread as you suggested and 2) Hardly the only uninformed, regional bigotry in the United States.

    • #48
  19. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen
    @tommeyer

    Gaius (View Comment):

    As far as urban condescension toward “flyover” Trump country, again, physician heal thyself. Conservatives can’t open their mouthes for half a minute without letting out some crack about coastal pajama boys or elite girly men.

    Or using “New York Values” as a slur.

    Honestly, Trump’s response to that was one of his best moments in the debates.

    • #49
  20. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    My son reminded me of the Manhattan Boat Lift after listening to that clip, Tom:

    • #50
  21. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    The leftists who concentrate themselves in large cities and insulate themselves from anyone who dissents from their beliefs are not part of the “Real America” as I understand that phrase. America is unique in the world because being an American does not depend on geography, but rather on embracing the ideas on which America was founded. The left does not embrace those ideas, or even accept those ideas.

    Well put.

    • #51
  22. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Tom Meyer, Common Citizen (View Comment):
    @bryangstephens, I have no doubt that you’ve been on the receiving end of anti-Southern bigotry.

    Living in Connecticut for 3 years while I was in the Navy, I saw not what I would call bigotry, but maybe a disdain for those of us from the south.  Fortunately, enough of the young ladies up “Nawth” thawed out, and succumbed to my gentlemanly southern charm.  Hehe . . .

    • #52
  23. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    I remember being in Alabama in a car with Massachusetts plates.

    “Massachusetts!” said a local yokel with surprise. “Why would anyone wanna go back there?”

    Why indeed.

    This is true. If I have disdain for anywhere, it’s Massachusetts.

    Thanks, Fred. 

    • #53
  24. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    I remember being in Alabama in a car with Massachusetts plates.

    “Massachusetts!” said a local yokel with surprise. “Why would anyone wanna go back there?”

    Why indeed.

    This is true. If I have disdain for anywhere, it’s Massachusetts.

    Thanks, Fred.

    Seriously, some of us come from Massachusetts you know :)

    • #54
  25. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I always think of conservatives as relating to people as individuals. 

    This entire discussion of regional animosities is troubling to me. 

    • #55
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    MarciN (View Comment):
    This entire discussion of regional animosities is troubling to me.

    I know what you mean.  My wife and I drove through several great cities on the way out west and back.  I think the distinction lies in differentiating between the great people in the cities, and the people who run the government in the cities.

    Sadly, enough of the great people in the cities elect not-so-great (or downright lousy) people to run things.

    • #56
  27. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    I don’t hate Massachusetts, or the South, or the Midwest, or Vermont, or the Pacific Northwest, or California — they are all mine.

    I am an American.

    All of them.

    Mine.

    • #57
  28. Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger Member
    Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger
    @MattBalzer

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I always think of conservatives as relating to people as individuals.

    This entire discussion of regional animosities is troubling to me.

    Yeah, that’s how it works. I have dislike for a number of places, but I find many of the people from them to be decent. As I understand it, it’s the other way around with liberals. They’re great at caring for groups. Not so much for individuals.

    • #58
  29. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I always think of conservatives as relating to people as individuals.

    This entire discussion of regional animosities is troubling to me.

    Yeah, that’s how it works. I have dislike for a number of places, but I find many of the people from them to be decent. As I understand it, it’s the other way around with liberals. They’re great at caring for groups. Not so much for individuals.

    Indeed. I’ve often joked that Republicans hate groups but love individuals. Democrats love groups but hate individuals. :-) 

    • #59
  30. Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger Member
    Matt Balzer, Straw Bootlegger
    @MattBalzer

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    I don’t hate Massachusetts, or the South, or the Midwest, or Vermont, or the Pacific Northwest, or California — they are all mine.

    For me it’s Yes, no, obviously not, yes, kinda, and definitely.

    Just because I don’t like ’em doesn’t mean I won’t back ’em when it’s appropriate.

    Of course some places are a bit higher on the hierarchy than others. Depending on the situation.

    • #60
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