Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Why are they picking a fight?

The DMR editorial writers taking pot shots at the rest of the world; whoa, talk about cultural myopia.

... perhaps the most troubling findings had little to do with perceptions of Iowa and more to do with a general lack of geographic knowledge. When asked to locate Iowa, 28 percent chose descriptions of Ohio or Idaho. It might be difficult to find New Jersey or Rhode Island crammed in the Northeast, but Iowa? A state smack in the middle of a U.S. map?

And about one-third couldn't correctly identify Des Moines as the state capital. That makes us wonder why respondents gave such high marks to the public-education systems in their home states.
How can we expect thoose guys that are not from here to want to visit, let alone live in Iowa, if yoose Iowans near the top of the food chain make it a habit to regularly insult, belittle and generally take unwarranted swipes at non-Iowans? Okay, I can forgive Christie Vilsack, I mean Jersey is Jersey, and that Mid Atlantic dialect is not an easy one to wrap your brain around.

As a "transplant" to this state, I often feel like I'm in some really bad corn people sci-fi story, living in an alternate reality where I speak the language, understand the customs, and yet, often feel curiously out of it. Every year, it takes just one of those artsy soybean commercials to get my annual and visceral "where am I? And how did I get here?" reaction.

For the longest time, I have considered my life in Iowa to be an experience in cultural anthropology; I am often monitoring goings on at the edge of the tribe, occasionally invited along to celebrate tribal rituals, Kinnick on a Michigan Saturday, and just thinking of my life in this place as the earnest and important study of a people.

That's not normal.

Most folks that make some place home find themselves connected to the experience. I know this stems from my personal disinterest in playing along with my culturally prescribed role as one of the silent, nodding, complacent types. You know, volunteer at school, go to church, read the Sunday paper and not make a sound; just let your life blow by and enjoy the show the Important Iowans put on for the rest of us.

When I go home, my out of Iowa home, to see my family we don't really talk about Iowa, outside of the Haweyes. It's just what do you say about a place where the editorial board of the statewide paper tosses insults at the rest of the world?


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