New Voices

You, and me, and everyone we know should be reading Ta-Nehisi Coates.  He replaced Matt Yglesias at the Atlantic, when Yglesias moved to CAP.  I’d read some of Coates’ stuff before he went big time, and unfortunately I haven’t been reading him enough lately.

He is intuitive, very, very bright, and thoughtful on issues that most mainstream bloggers otherwise are not.  When I do read him, I’m intrigued by the infusion of something-near spirituality into much of his commentary.

Anyway, I am not here to say that I am getting married to Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I am here to post something he posted yesterday, from Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune.  It is about small towns, which has a much greater resonance in my life now, of course:

Americans disdain snobbery in all its forms except the most popular one: reverse snobbery. Joe Biden would never get up in front of a crowd and suggest that the citizens of Manhattan are morally superior to the residents of Possum Gulch, Ark. But Sarah Palin was happy to tell the Republican National Convention that the very best people come from the country.

“We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity and dignity,” she declared, quoting the late journalist Westbrook Pegler. “They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, run our factories and fight our wars. They love their country, in good times and bad, and they’re always proud of America.”

Not like those idle, insincere, lying city folks who dare to suggest that America can sometimes be wrong.

But no one seemed to take offense. The myth of rural virtue and urban vice is an old one in this country, and it persists no matter what the changes in the landscape. And whatever questions Palin may face in her debate with Biden, her paeans to small-town virtue aren’t likely to be among them.

Most Americans, it seems, can tolerate hearing of the superiority of the small town, as long as they don’t have to live in one. You wouldn’t know it from listening to country music stations, or to the governor of Alaska, but four out of every five Americans choose not to reside in rural areas.

That’s Chapman — who, being from Chicago, is probably a big city elitist.  In other news, a woman I met at work who moved to Athens two years ago after living in two of the big cities I have also lived in, said that she and her husband refer to this phase in their life as “pioneer.”


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