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The Center of the Country

April 14th, 2008 | by Dr. Forbush |

Last week I ventured on a business trip to the middle of the country. St. Louis is a major American city based on the fact that it offers major league sports teams. However, when you compare the city of St. Louis to many other American cities it seems to be a little more “laid back.” When I suggested this idea to a friend he asked, “By laid back do you mean - nothing is going on?” I actually believe that something is going on, it is just going on a bit slower than in other areas of the country.

Missouri is the “Show Me” state. Basically this self-assigned reputation suggests that people in Missouri are born skeptics. However, I don’t believe that Missourians are skeptics in all areas at all. Instead, as a casual observer it seems more likely that people from this state tend to be set in their ways until they are show to do things another way. Now, stereotypes are generally frowned upon by those who are politically correct, but when you walk into a new place and everyone is behaving in such a strange and universal way it is hard to not believe in stereotypes to some extent. In fact, the idea that people from certain places behaving in certain ways would be strongly supported by the cultural influence in an area effects the population. People who move from these areas take their culture with them as well as their genetic pool.

Missouri is also one of those states that will most likely play a significant role in the 2008 election. Missouri is also a state with a history of racial issues. For example, the Dred Scott case was argued in St. Louis. Therefore it tends to be important to understand how the people in this “compromise state” might feel toward the possibility of Barack Obama being elected to the highest office in the land.

The first Missourian I asked about Barack Obama laughed at me. Of course this fresh graduate from Mizzou was extremely drink and would laugh at just about anything she did have a serious disbelief in the possibility of a person of color being elected president. As I proceeded to ask her if she had heard any of his speeches, or knew what he stood for she drew a blank. She was aware that there was no possible way that any of her friends would vote for him. At that point I was happy to learn that she was not registered to vote.

Well, I didn’t feel very encouraged after listening to this (what do you call a person from Mizzou?) person tell me “the facts of life” in Missouri.

The next person that I questioned about the 2008 election wasn’t exactly from Missouri. And, since this was an informal survey that actually means nothing I will tell you what he said anyway. I began by suggesting that of course he must have voted for Barack in the primary election, and he laughed in my face again. (I guess this is bound to happen when one spends time in the bar.) When he collected himself he asked me “In the month after 9/11 back in 2001 could you have ever imagined that we would have a black Muslim running for President of the United States?”

Well, what other answer could I have for this obviously misinformed question than, “Of course, I expected that would be the next step in our political culture.”

When this man was caught off guard by my response he said, “Hey, you aren’t being honest with me!”

Then I was able to say, “Well, that’s because you weren’t being honest with me. Barrack Obama is not a Muslim. In fact, the problem that he is currently having pertains to his membership in a Baptist church. And, last I knew the Baptist religion is a Christian denomination.” Even though I now know that he is a member of the United Church of Christ, and not Baptist.

Of course arguing with a drunk is never likely to be productive. But it does tend to bring to the surface one of the problems that our country still needs to solve. Clear lies and misinformation will continue to plague this election. Whispered innuendo will be a major force that will continue to work against what would be best for our country.

Of course the person I was arguing with was a working class person that would benefit economically from the election of Barrack Obama more than the election of either of the other two candidates. However, the economic interest of the upper class is being served by the prejudice of the lower class. This tends to be a convenient circumstance for the upper class, because they would never dare to bring it up and expose their advantage. And, when people have been raised in a culture of racism then that racism is an undercurrent that seems to be acceptable within that culture.

My daughter recently returned from a trip to Texas. Being raised in California and having friends from many different racial groups she found her experience shocking. She was in the process of visiting different schools in an effort to choose a university to attend after graduation. Most likely just because her parents graduated from Texas A&M she felt an obligation to tour this campus. The non-diversity of that school was shocking, and she announced that it was highly unlikely that she would be able to attend that school. Her host, somewhat surprised, said, “Why? You’re white and you’re not a lesbian, so you would fit in just fine.” My daughter couldn’t even grasp the comment. She must have told us this story twenty times just trying to understand where these people were coming from.

But, the rest of the country might be a bit more like the center of the country rather than the coasts. And, because of this we are in need of a major national discussion on racism. And, I offer these points as just another effort to push this conversation forward.

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Don’t forget what Stephen Colbert said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Reflection

  1. 4 Responses to “The Center of the Country”

  2. By admin on Apr 15, 2008 | Reply

    “Your white and not a lesbian”

    That tells me more about how some people view the world than anything I’ve ever ready. Thanks man.

  3. By Dusty on Apr 15, 2008 | Reply

    I was going to comment on the same line Cranky did..friggin hatred of anything different is alive and well!

    And..the girl..THANK JESUS she isn’t registered and I hope most of those who believe as she aren’t either. It’s our only hope at this point.

  4. By Jet Netwal on Apr 15, 2008 | Reply

    One thing about talking to drunks, tho, Doc, is you tend you hear things they know better than to say sober. :-)

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