Monday, June 19, 2006

Rule the day

Rule #25: Heartland Attack

Abandon the idea that there is a "heartland" in the United States. Just because New England and California have unique tastes doesn't mean that everything in between is somehow united in blandness and old-fashioned behavior. Last I checked, the "heartland" can be just as vibrant and diverse as any other place; they're just more ashamed of it, apparently.

And anyway, what is the heartland? Everyone who doesn't live on a beach seems to consider themselves part of it, and that's a lot of Americans to pigeonhole. But even if you do buy the idea that the heartland is a haven for good ol' middle-of-the-road plain folks, that doesn't mean it should be our barometer of taste. Yes, corn tastes good. But dammit, we're a melting pot, not a casserole!

Every time I hear a fellow heartlander saying that "our values" and "our culture" are under attack, another part of me dies inside. I don't recall being invited to the meeting where the entire population of middle America got together and decided how I wanted to live. These vocal Moral Minorities don't speak for me, my standard of living or my personal choices (and, more likely than not, I don't speak for them). Hell, they don't even speak for the heaviest clusters of the U.S. population! Why mass media, pop culture and politics continue to cater to these people is beyond me. At least Mark Twain and Will Rogers tried to teach us something.

Rule #25b: Escape from New York

New York City is overdone. Yeah, I know it's one of the world's largest and most important urban centers, and that I just called for politics and media to quit pandering to some ghostly idea of Middle America. But if NYC gets any more supersaturated in the national consciousness, it's going to become the Wal-Mart of U.S. culture. And Wal-Mart is very Middle American, which frightens me.

But I suppose it's no accident that so many people live in New York, being that many are refugees from the "heartland," and go on to make movies and TV shows about New York--filmed on location in Los Angeles! Man, is anything real anymore?

Rule #26: Us versus Us versus Them

Disagreeing with the Bush administration does not automatically make someone a fan of al-Qaida. Numerous editorial cartoons, blogs and pundits have been framing the recent string of news (Zarqawi's death, Rove's acquittal, Bush's "rising" poll numbers) as cause for GOP celebration, because it's proof that liberals are losing in their war to destroy America. The comment threads on these blogs consist of right-wingers giggling over how much they have it made--not as Americans, but as enabled conservatives. And then the topic inevitably shifts to how they can defeat the common enemy. Terrorists? Nope: the American left.

Over the past few years, I've been called un-American, anti-troop, reactionary, pro-terrorist, a criminal coddler, a raving lunatic, misguided, sheltered, bitter and brain-dead. Then they tell me to go back to whatever country I didn't come from. Many of these epithets come from otherwise startlingly sane people, some of whom are considered pillars of the community. My question to them is this: Do you really believe that swill? I want to believe that you don't, but I'm honestly not sure.

Whatever happened to simply having different viewpoints? What about the past five years has made it completely impossible to offer a dissenting opinion on how to protect America without being branded as sympathetic to the terrorists?

Oh, I forgot. 9/11! (Applause.)

Rule #27: A Rudimentary Rule

Rude people suck. Period. May others be rude to them.

1 comment:

ashley said...

There's a good reason the midwest is called the heartland.

There's no brains there.