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Tonight I sat down with great expectations to watch my neighbor John Mellencamp on Real time with Bill Maher.  Mellencamp is very quiet about his political leanings here in Indiana; but his music is the voice of the quiet, tolerant Midwestern liberal living in a 'red state;' trying always to cut through the propaganda that seems to hold our neighbors in a trance.  When I heard him describing the 'Great Swindle,' I wanted to leap off the couch and cheer.  

I was listening to him just now explain, at Bill's request, about 'what is going on in the middle part of America.'

Bill commented on John's patriotism (without judging it, but...) and John commented that people in this part of the country are very patriotic.  Yes, that is true.  And as he also pointed out... the ones that do vote for a 'Fred Thompson in his red pickup truck' are naive.

As John put it, they tell the truth; so why should they doubt someone else's word?  And what's wrong with being naive?

(Haven't found a video from tonight's show yet; watching for one.)

This royally pissed off Maher, but I see John's point.  Because I see this all around me too.  That Hoosiers tend to expect that people will naturally do what they say they will do - the 'right thing' - and to be honest in their dealings isn't the problem. The problem is the way in which they have been betrayed... and the way that their faith in decency and governmental authority - and especially their patriotism - has been used against them.

JM: I see it.  I see it all the time, and I can't understand.  My wife and I would drive through small communities in Indiana and go 'We don't understand these Bush/Cheney signs in front of these peoples' houses.'  But they were... swindled.

BM: Isn't there something to telling the people to be more cynical, to quote one of my old lines?

JM: But I don't know if I want to go through my life being cynical.

BM: It's better than going through life being swindled.

JM: But I don't like either one!

And there is the great Hoosier dilemma.

I keep insisting that Hoosiers are good, 'salt of the earth' people.  Most would give you the shirt off their backs.  I moved back here because I missed that; the friendliness, and the offhand generosity.  

People know their neighbors here.  If there is a storm, people check on each other.  When there is an ice storm out here, we all pitch in to clear the road.  People share tomato crops, stop and talk over the back fence, and still take walks in the evening.  People talk to 'total strangers' in the grocery checkout line.

I never really fit in anywhere else I lived, because I was raised in this environment.  There is an openness, a trustfulness that I was raised with here in Indiana, that I have never found anywhere else.  I grew up barefoot in the summers, and we never locked our doors at night.

Yes - I talk to people in grocery checkout lines.  I've been embarrassing my husband for years.  Now he finally gets it.  In New York City, people were horrified and immediately looked away.  In Chicago, they gave me odd looks, but being the Midwest, they were bemused and tolerant.  In Arizona, people looked away in discomfort, as if I had invaded their space by talking to them.  

Now that I am home, we're all back to chatting as we stand in line... and it feels good.  

I guess I don't like living among cynical people.

And before people jump on me (fellow Hoosiers) about the mean people among us; the haters, remember that there are mean people everywhere (here they wear sheets.) But my own experiences have been that there are many more decent, good people in my area than bad apples.  Actually, other than tailgaters, I can't remember the last time I encountered a nasty, mean person around here.

But we're all very careful to avoid talking politics these days.  Because we really do prefer getting along.  One of the more painful developments under Bush rule, is the way the media has fanned divisions between those of differing ideologies; fostering a hateful 'us verses them' divide between liberal and conservative.  Those of us who are liberal tend not to understand where this is coming from because we don't listen to daytime radio or O'Reilly.  But at times we see the results of their work.  

What a terrific - and well orchestrated - way to divide and conquer us.  

Erosion of trust is so apparent in a friendly place like Indiana, where liberals and conservatives have mostly lived side by side as neighbors, farmed and rubbed shoulders in our famous (if dangerous) outdoor summer markets, and participated together in our local schools and communities.  

Why on earth would we be enemies?  As John pointed out - and what I keep struggling to express to my own conservative neighbors - we have a mutual enemy trying to enslave us all.  Shouldn't we be pulling together against these wealthy elitists that are sending our jobs overseas, feeding us tainted food, ruining our schools and allowing our infrastructure to decay all around us, withholding desperately needed health care, looting our national treasury and sending our kids off to die for their oil profits?  

I mean -- isn't this a mutual problem?

This song really says it all.

Yes, many people here are conservative, patriotic and religious.  But until the neocons started poisoning their minds, most of them were patriotic in a good way; post 9/11, people in this state send their kids to Iraq because they believe in duty to country.  Only now are they realizing, belatedly, that they have been betrayed.  

People here are religious (for the most part) in a good way as well.  But there is something there... indoctrination in these conservative churches that teaches them to respect and never question authority.  

I used to hear them preaching this blind obedience on the radio every Sunday (it was impossible to get anything else on the Sunday airwaves when I was a kid.  We also still can't buy alcohol on Sundays; including wine, which I often thought was quite ironic, having been raised a Catholic.  Can't buy it, but you can have a sip at church.)  

This indoctrination has I believe led to an unwillingness or inability to question authority; and that has made these people easy victims, as John put it, for the 'Great Swindle.'  

Because they were raised to believe that people are basically honest, upstanding and honorable... they were caught totally off guard by the neocons.  I have to keep reminding people; not all Republicans are neocons and many Republican citizens consider themselves 'Republican' based on an  illusionary brand that turned into a snare:  a trap that was baited with their ideals of honor and good citizenship.

Beware their wrath as they learn the truth.  

Do they get it yet?  I think they are starting to, in greater and greater numbers, and in spite of the media propaganda.  The scandals, the lies, the greed... this isn't how we do things here.

Originally posted to feduphoosier on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 02:34 AM PDT.

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  •  Thanks for stopping by (301+ / 0-)
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  •  Thanks for the perspective (9+ / 0-)

    I've driven through Ohio dozens of times and even spent some quality time actually stopping for a week once.

    Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton: Out of 295,734,134 (July 2005 est.) Americans, this is the best we can do?

    by Yoshi En Son on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 02:39:20 AM PDT

  •  People are truly beginning to become aware of (43+ / 0-)

    the political realities in this country.  It is as if all of a sudden the fog has lifted and "Hey, there's something fishy going on here."

    I live in North Carolina, and I'm seeing it happen here as well.  The reality of what has been going on with our current administration is starting to hit home in such a way that people simply cannot ignore it anymore.  Many of the kool aid drinkers are starting to take their water without the kool aid.  

    It's a shame it has taken so long, however without the traditional media calling a spade a spade, most people just were not getting the real story.

    They are waking up now, in 2007.  By 2008, they might be really upset.

    Adequate resources are necessary for feasible tasks. -6.00, -6.21

    by funluvn1 on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 02:56:30 AM PDT

  •  Don't fool yourself (23+ / 0-)

    Most Americans only have a problem with Iraq because we are losing. They do not care about the million Iraqis killed since the war began or the million killed by sanctions in the 90's. Brown skinned people just do not count.

    I guess I represent the totally cynical view huh? But I still think I am right in this. Americans pretend to be moral, that is all.

    •  I guess it depends on who you know (35+ / 0-)

      I don't like to make sweeping generalizations.

      After 9/11, many people were angry and confused.  They took the Iraq bait.  People are snapping out of it, getting the word, and most especially from those returning from Iraq.

      We're all just too different to paint with one sweeping brush.  People around me - the people I know - care VERY much about the Iraqis. But then most of them are in Bloomington, college town where a good portion of the student and faculty population are 'brown' as well, and from all over the globe.

      I can't say how people feel in other towns, and I don't try... because I can't really know that.  I can only know the area around me.  And stranger even than Bloomington... I actually heard a big, burley guy in the grocery store out in the sticks talking about Bush with stronger, more explicit words than I've heard from any liberal.  You'd never expect that, but it is happening.  Because they are realizing they were lied to.

      Things just aren't black and white.  People can be indoctrinated, but there will always be those who resist and who just tend to think for themselves.  And entire communities like Bloomington that are strongly opposed to war, and were from the very first day (they've been out there in the square every Wednesday protesting since the day the war began.)  They care very much about the Iraqis.

      •  Betrayal... (20+ / 0-)

        Tends to generate a strong response, from those who value loyalty.

        I'm not surprised by the backlash; at this point, I'm surprised it's not bigger yet.  Thank the media for that.

        Hell hath no fury, like that of a voter scorned.

        This administration has done in their party for at least a decade, possibly for a generation.  People who identified as "Republicans" for decades are leaving the party.  They still believe too many stereotypes about "Democrats", though, so they're switching to "Independent."

        Investigate and publicize!!  The only reason people aren't more angry is because they don't yet know the depth and breadth of lying, thievery, and old-fashioned corruption going on!

      •  My great fear with their "awakening" (14+ / 0-)

        is that they will only blame Bush and not see the rest of the Repubs for what they are--the same type of corrupt, corporate-enabling elitists who talk out of both sides of their mouths.

        For the most part, this whole batch of Repubs and the next generation coming up have all been trained by Rovian tactics. It's going to take a LONG time for honest Repubs to show up in Washington again.

        I fear that the good people in Indiana and elswhere don't realize how deep the rot goes and will think that once Bush is gone, everything will be back to normal.

        The media are only as liberal as the conservative businesses that own them.

        by MTgirl on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:41:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  even the ones who are 'waking up'... (7+ / 0-)

        ...are still talking about 'panhandlers making $100,000 a year' and people 'living off of welfare.' I was recently chatting with folks in Olathe, Kansas... I heard a lot about people who 'live off of people who work for a living,' and by that they didn't mean corporate CEOs and Exxon-Halliburton fat cats, they meant panhandlers...

        They say they have seen it with their own eyes, even as they fail to provide examples. Often enough, it's a story about someone buying something inappropriate with foodstamps. When pressed, they admit that they have watched news coverage of these abuses, and that the $100,000/year panhandler was in Los Angeles... One of the major networks covered the story, apparently.

        Resentment of 'freeloaders' is a perennial draw for the GOP brand, even today in places where the war has created anxiety. God bless 'em, we have the voters of Kansas (and 'good Hoosiers') to thank for the Iraq catastrophe, the health care crisis, the suspension of civil liberties, warrantless surveillance, the failure to regulate lending, the No Child Left Behind fiasco... But they are so neighborly, they will blame it all on the guy who 'freeloads,' even if it's they who are struggling with health care and the extra mortgage costs due to the Iraq War borrowing. They are far from accountable for their own votes for Bush in 2000 and 2004, I've found.

        You might think people are waking up slowly, but it's more like coming out of a coma... I wish it were otherwise, but that little flutter of recognition doesn't mean full consciousness is necessarily coming. This transformation in national thinking is real, but it is not being narrated in the traditional media, and there's a reason for that. (For the record, I say all this as someone who grew up a Republican in Kansas and who still goes back.)

        •  This goes back to the RW propaganda. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dogemperor, QuickSilver

          As the diarist said, people in rural areas help each other.  If a neighbor is laid up and can't work, they look after his farm, they check in him, they help out his family.  If a neighbors' barn gets blown away by a tornado, they help clean up the mess. My 92 year old grandmother is still able to live on her own because her son and his wife check in with her every day to make sure she remembers her medicine, and she has good neighbors that check on her every day.

          This isn't socialism, this isn't welfare.  It's neighbors helping neighbors.  Only in the big urban areas, in order to protect individual boundaries and space, we don't know each other.  That's why there are food stamps, lunch programs, WIC programs and the like.  Somehow we need re-write the narrative, so it is about communities taking care of people in need, about being good neighbors.

          "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

          by Reepicheep on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 02:21:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I had one former friend (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          QuickSilver

          try to justify voting for Bush by sending me one of those email hoaxes, he was gullible enough to believe, that play to the city-phobia of some rural voters that grossly distorted the murder rate difference between Gore and Bush voting counties. I sent him the Snopes debunk on it and he hasn't talked to me since.

          Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

          by rapala on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 04:17:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Hmm (19+ / 0-)

      In some respect, you may be right.  I've seen people I've otherwise mostly agreed with turn absolutely poisonous and xenophobic when it comes to immigration.  There seems to be a racist undertone, when one asks them how come we're not building a fence along the Canadian border to keep out those pesky Canadians.

      However, that just tells me that the Democratic Party has failed to properly frame the issues as human issues (larger and more basic than any national issue).

      •  Yea... I've run into that too (23+ / 0-)

        It stops when I mention that I'm quarter blood Souix/Cherokee mix (i look white skinned German except for the cheekbones) and then proceed to tell the white man to "get the hell off my land you bastards." Smiling a few seconds after that.
        Uncomfortable laughter ensues, the subject changes, but more oft than not, a light goes on behind the eyes.
        Can't say it changes the mind of the person I say this too, but it does remind them of THEIR ancestory, and just where they started from.
        Not every one is a racist anti-immigrant homo-phobe in the Midwest either, but on occasion you have to remind them of what has happened here in the past.
        Do it with a joke if you can't do it with a history lesson.

        A pity we don't have the votes to defend the Constitution.-me

        by RElland on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 05:34:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Canada would prefer that wall... (6+ / 0-)

        The number of Americans immigrating to Canada has doubled since "dubya" was anointed.

        Article here

        Particularly interesting when you compare the percentages of population these numbers represent.  Canada is just under 40,000,000, so 11K is a much larger percentage than the 23K of 300M.

        -6.5, -7.59. I want to know who the men in the shadows are... ~Jackson Browne

        by DrWolfy on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:45:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My Mom (3+ / 0-)

        Was my Liberal role model as a child.....she's mellowed, but still a life long Dem.  We can't talk about immigration - she turns into someone I don't recognize.  It is racist because she assumes every brown person is here illegally and her tone is very hateful (except towards this very nice janitor that works in her office - go figure).

        Funny...she's okay with hiring them (brown people) to do her yard, trim her trees and lay her brick patio.  

        We keep our conversations focused on bashing Republicans.

        Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known---Carl Sagan

        by LibChicAZ on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:35:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My mother was predjudiced, and conservative... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          betson08, LibChicAZ

          My Dad wan't, but we didn't talk politics.

          Somehow I turned out liberal, and towards the end, my Mom agreed with me about how bad W is.

          "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act" George Orwell

          by wrights on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:32:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I've had the same experience. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bablhous

        And the people who have gotten so nasty absolutely cannot recognize the underlying racism in their argument, which mystifies me. They think that somehow they have x-ray eyes and can tell that every brown person walking down the street doesn't have the correct documentation in their pockets. And I also have to remind them that being undocumented in this country is NOT a criminal offense, which leaves them all off balance in the middle of their demonization of all the "criminals". It's a civil offense that requires that you go before an immigration judge.

        Anyway, I just don't know what to say to these folks. My only consolation that the xenophobia around immigrants seems to go in 10 year cycles, and we're at a peak right now.

        •  Now this is a real problem: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dogemperor

          Most of the people I know who are absolutely rabid about "illegal immigrants" will rant on and on about "I'm not prejudiced, but they've broken the LAW.  They're LAWBREAKERS, and they should be sent back."

          I once told my left-leaning neighbor that crossing the border without documentation wasn't a criminal offense, and I thought she was going to slug me!

          Sigh...it's almost like people have to have someone to hate.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 12:36:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      feduphoosier, slksfca

      You had strong support for the war at first, mostly since this was a badly shell-shocked nation after 9/11 and Bush hadn't been proven as a liar yet. Many, many people saw Iraq as some sort of existential threat. That, and other people saw Saddam Hussein as a really bad guy who needed to be gotten rid of. As the truth has started to come out, I think people have gotten less enthusiastic about the Iraq War. The casualties have had something to do with it, certainly. But if the public finds the cause of a war acceptable, they'll accept a high rate of casualties. No one is quite sure what the point of the Iraq War is anymore.

    •  No, they have been convinced that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NCrefugee, snazzzybird, dotster

      "moral" is defined by the authority of the person who acts or gives the orders.  So, for example, the President, BECAUSE he's in charge can do no wrong and anyone who obeys his directions can do no wrong.

      It is said that "Obedience to the Law is Freedom."  What that means is that the wage of obedience is freedom from responsibility for one's actions.  This is an attractive proposition to many people because it relieves them of guilt and even the possibility of making a mistake.

      There's moral certainty in obedience.

  •  Wow! This diary really nails it. (33+ / 0-)

    In the wake of the biggest brainwashing in human history, how can anyone not be cynical? Yet, What a terrible thing to have thrust upon them. Who has the right to torture another's life view and life experience? To steal innocence is perhaps the greatest crime. It is spiritual rape.

    "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self." --Aristotle

    by java4every1 on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 03:34:39 AM PDT

  •  "Whats wrong with being naive." (17+ / 0-)

    You are more suseptable to being fooled and used.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 03:45:33 AM PDT

    •  True (10+ / 0-)

      But I don't want to always distrust everyone I meet.  Just the slimy politicians.  ;D

      And I really connect with that song on the second YouTube -- 'brother I'm not your enemy.'  The media is trying to stir us up against each other.  If we are attacking each other, we won't be looking at them.

      •  Being naive is (15+ / 0-)

        being willfully ignorant, in my view.  It is dangerous because you are ignoring facts that might make your life less comfortable.

        The truth will set people free, even if it's not easy.  

        It doesn't have to make you cynical to the point of being without hope.  The most hopeful people I know are those on the real left.

        •  No. (7+ / 0-)

          Being naive is exactly that: naive.  There is no intentional ignorance involved--how can you be willfully ignorant about something you know nothing about?

          If you grow up in a community that values honesty, you tend to be honest and believe others to be so since they are the only people you've ever interacted with. It's not willful ignorance, and that's why they are getting mad now. This is outside their realm of experience and expectations, but they will remember this lesson. IMHO, the world is a little dirtier for the loss of innocence.

          The media are only as liberal as the conservative businesses that own them.

          by MTgirl on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:51:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rebecca, girlsanger

            There is no intentional ignorance involved--how can you be willfully ignorant about something you know nothing about?

            Not trying to find out the truth about things and watching FOX News 24/7 seems pretty intentionally ignorant to me. Most people want to validate their own world view and don't seek out challenging opinions or ideas. That to me is very intentional ignorance.

            The world is full of information and even in rural areas there is more than just one news source available. If people don't know the truth, to some extent, they don't want to know.

            Impeach President Cheney and his little monkey too!

            by HighSticking on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:57:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Go into any sports bar (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MTgirl, Philpm, FMArouet

              You will find about the only channel on is Fox.  When they flip over to news, guess what everyone watches?  Fox cornered the sports market before they started the propaganda campaign.  And that brought in millions of viewers who might never have watched their fake news.  And as people were there for sports, they may not be as discerning about the news... but it still gets into their psyches, because people in general aren't used to  thinking of TV news as lies.  Cronkite and Rather were pretty believable, and so people learned to trust.  Unfortunately.  

              Actually, I think Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are saving us all - including the Fox viewers.  They are so funny, people tune in.  And they skewer that Fox propaganda bubble while delivering actual news.

          •  I think its that some people are just more (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SadieB, Philpm

            inherently trusting than others. Sometimes being more trusting works out for you.Sometimes it doesn't.

            Don't tell them to end the war! Tell them to END THE OCCUPATION .

            by CTMET on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:43:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Altruists and cheaters. (0+ / 0-)

              This is classic game theory. It's very easy for cheaters to invade groups of altruists and take over because the altruists keep being altruistic while the cheaters continue cheating.

              Sounds like the altruists are finally waking up to the concept of tit-for-tat. Let's hope it's enough to fix the mess we're in.

              The media are only as liberal as the conservative businesses that own them.

              by MTgirl on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:01:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I agree (6+ / 0-)

            People here tend to take pride in their work and honest; they won't ever cheat you.  I have never been cheated by a mechanic here (in fact my parents have had the same one since I was little!)  People come to your house to fix something and if anything they give you a break on the price or throw something in as an extra.  

            They work hard and - as I mentioned in the diary - they are there for you when something goes wrong.  I was in a car accident a month ago, and people came out of their houses with phones, glasses of water with ice... the sheriff deputy was about the nicest guy I've ever met.  Seriously.  

            Whatever they are, they aren't willfully being ignorant.  But they do tend to believe authority and definitely the media.  And that is where one of the disconnect -- why people think they are idiots without having met them, simply because of how they vote.  They aren't stupid, they just live here; where people tend to be honest. So dishonesty on this grand a scale is almost unimaginable.  And I kind of agree with Mellencamp.  Its nice... that they can't even imagine it.  This is Normal Rockwell America in some ways.  

            As for Fox, people really haven't gotten the word that their news isn't news.  And Fox has all of the SPORTS.  This draws people in.  People who might not even watch the news stay on because they were watching baseball or football.

            •  "Dishonesty on a grand scale". (0+ / 0-)

              You've hit the nail on the head. The Big Lie takes so many in because it's hard to conceive that someone would actually be that bold. It's outside most people's realm of experience and why we on the Left end up looking like partisans or tin-foil hatters.

              The average person has very little experience with con-men, and it's hard for them to realize that their government has been taken over by wolves in sheep's clothing.

              But they're starting to realize it now, and I just hope they make the jump from blaming Bush to the rest of the Repub politicians.  The taint is deep and rotten to the core. I hope they catch on in time.

              The media are only as liberal as the conservative businesses that own them.

              by MTgirl on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:59:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I'm sure your kindly neighbors (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bablhous, protectspice

              will vote Republican, even though the great swindle has begun to dawn on them.  Judging from my beloved and otherwise intelligent family members who are faithful Republicans and disgusted with Bush, Mitt Romney will easily win their hopeful vote.
      •  A friend told me many years ago (25+ / 0-)

        a story from his childhood:

        He and his father had gone downtown to shop.  Before leaving the car, his father took his camera and put it in the glove box, then locked the car.

        "Why are you doing that, dad?" asked my friend.  "Shouldn't we trust people?"

        "It is right to trust a man," his father replied, "But it's wrong to tempt him."

        This applies to Authorizations for the Use of Military Force as much as cameras.

        Nanotech can take CO2 and make diamonds & fresh air. Sheep are the new PIE LouLost.com

        by Crashing Vor on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 05:57:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well the midwestern nice (4+ / 0-)

        seems to bring people together at the grocery store.

        It doesn't seem to be doing much to bring people together across ethnic lines, or gender lines, or lines of sexual orientation or nationality.

        You can be nice to people in public while you still want the government to lock them up.  And I'd much rather live among folks who are a little wary or cold in public, but who don't vote for folks who run on a platform of xenophobia, racism, and fascism, than to have neighbors who come over and offer to mow my lawn after the government they voted for drags my ass to Gitmo.

        "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

        by Pesto on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:42:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The "nice" I know (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dogemperor, feduphoosier

          is Southern, and yes, it can.

          I remember one summer I had been traveling with my family in France. When we came home we had to ride on the Atlanta metro for part of our journey.

          At the station, a young black woman looked my son up and down as he sat in his stroller. He was a very healthy one year old.

          "Damn that's a big baby," she said.

          I looked at her, and though my mind was fogged with the sleep deprivation of travel with small children, I noticed she was pregnant herself and managed to come back with, "go ahead and laugh, your time's coming."

          She smiled at that, and all I could think was "It's so nice to live in a place where total strangers will talk to you like that. I LOVE the South."

          A world in which connection is always possible is a world in which transformation is always possible. And that's the world I want to live in.

          •  It may be possible (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bablhous, dogemperor, girlsanger

            but then the South is also where Katrina happened.

            I'm not saying the South is the only racist region in America.  Far, far from it.  But politeness and civil chit-chat just don't, empirically, seem to have anything to do with power relations in society, or with people's political convictions or their deeply-held beliefs.  I'll bet that most of the white kids, and white moms and dads, spitting at the Little Rock Nine said "Yes sir" and "Yes ma'am" and chatted nicely with strangers at the (segregated) drug store counter.  They probably were polite to their black maids, as well, if they could afford them.

            Being superficially friendly to people can also be a way to compensate for social injustice.  "But some of my best friends are _."

            If you can show me that a superficially friendlier society is more likely to actually achieve "transformation" I'm all ears.

            Lastly, I'd also point out that total strangers talk to each other in places like San Francisco, Boston, New York and Philly, too.  I think the idea that this doesn't happen in big American cities is just a myth.

            "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

            by Pesto on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:44:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Do you have any idea (0+ / 0-)

              what I'm talking about?

              Was it "civil" what the woman in Atlanta said to me, "damn that's a big baby?"

              I'm not talking about superficialities and chit-chat. I'm not talking about "yes sir and yes ma'am." I'm talking about real people who talk to each other in real ways.

              In any time or place where that happens, there can be transformation.

            •  True about that, but... (0+ / 0-)

              After Katrina, the Midwest geared up to take in Katrina victims, lining up housing and getting the word out.  Very few showed up.  There must be something to the South that convinces people to stay even though the South screwed them and their forebears for 350 years.

              Dems in 2008: An embarassment of riches. Repubs in 2008: Embarassments.

              by Yamaneko2 on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 03:07:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  there's "city nice" (but maybe you need a baby!) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Debby

            If you go to New York City, make sure you take a little baby with you! We spent a week there when my son was 9 months old. Everywhere we went, people talked to us, using the baby as a conversation starter. Sometimes they were rude-nice, as in, "HEY!! Don't say things like that in front of a baby!" or "YOU NEED TO PUT SUNSCREEN ON HIM!!" But overall, we had a lot of great mini-conversations on the subway, in the street, in stores and restaurants - pretty much every public place.

            In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

            by Lefty Mama on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:47:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Midwestern nice (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dogemperor

          used to include minding your own damn business about things that weren't your business. I think the mainstreaming of fundamentalist thought is to blame for putting the kibosh on that with its us vs. them values. I don't remember ethnicity being such a big deal when I was a kid nor sexual orientation. There wasn't a big fuzzy hug, but there was tolerance.

          tragically un-hip

          -5.88, -6.82

          by Debby on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 04:28:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It is a lot (22+ / 0-)

    easier to buy the mythology of America and it's history than the reality.  The reality is not really taught in schools.  

    As a result, lots of citizens are simply uninformed about the US role in the middle east (how did Iran end up with the Shah, which led to the ayatollahs, etc.)

    Same problem in Israel.  The mythology of the modern state is far preferred to the reality (by both sides).

    So I think it's imperative that progressives do all we can to inform people about the real history of the US, the conflicting history between the ruling and working people here and globally.  There ARE many American heroes out there.  But how many know about Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie, Mother Jones, Joe Hill, the Haymarket Martyrs?

  •  One of the most beautiful diaries I've ever read. (35+ / 0-)

    Balanced, focused on the real issue: The tragic, bedrock principle under every swindle, every con:  The willingness to take advantage of the best in us to advance one's selfish interests at the expense of the trusting.  How ugly, and how pressing the need to look at this problem until something "gives," and a way forward can be seen.

    Thanks, thanks, thanks; and recommended.

    Isn't it a good feeling when you see the paper in the morning, it says 'Axe Slayer Kills 19' and you say, "They can't pin that one on me!" - Jean Shepherd

    by razajac on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 05:13:36 AM PDT

  •  It's time to ask the question (8+ / 0-)

    hoosier government?

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 05:42:25 AM PDT

  •  This may be simplistic,,,, (21+ / 0-)

    but these so-called "honest" folks don't seem to trust their own neighbors to even pay for their gas.

    I was a trucker for several years, and IN, along with most other states, require you to pay before you fuel up.  How's that for trust?  But yet, WI and MN have very few "pay first" pumps.  Even in the cities.  Does this mean we're more honest?  Probably not.  But obviously more trusting.  And gee, it seems we voted blue in 2000 and 2004.  

    I think John is being naive with this explanation.

    I should state, that since Dumbass was re-elected in 2004, I have cut all ties with Republican friends.  I have no tolerance for anyone who supports this administration.  I view them as enemies of my country, just as I would North Korea, etc.  In fact, I have started, in a sarcastic, humorous way, of using the word "Republican" as my most severe insult.  And it's working.  Those around me have picked it up, and being called a Republican is now the new way of saying asshole.  Wish it would catch on nation-wide.

    "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine 3730+ dead Americans. Bring them home.

    by Miss Blue on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 05:48:28 AM PDT

    •  I think the argument that John M. was making... (16+ / 0-)

      ...and I saw Real Time last night, so was able to see his conversation with Bill Maher last night in full context--is that being naive is akin to being idealistic and innocently pure, and having both of these qualities is equivalent to having hope, which is the antithesis of cynicism.

      That's just the impression I got from his argument; I could totally be off-base here. I don't doubt his intentions in believing this way are benevolent; it's just that, as Bill Maher so aptly put it in rebuttal, being naive and innocent in this manner--being too trusting to the point of having the trust of a small child--has its dire consequences, because then we are all constantly in the dark.

      Remember, "cynicism" has its bad shades as well. Like cynically using the attacks on 9/11 to trump up a case for invading a sovereign nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 illegally. Like cynically misusing religion to play upon the good--and BAD--graces of unsuspecting believers to get votes. That kind of cynicism.

      I think what Bill meant to say was healthy was skepticism. It's not always unhealthy to be hopeful, trusting, take a man at a handshake and his word; yet when this happy idealism turns a blind eye to the lies, deceit, murderous actions and plundering that is done in the name of "God" and America, that's when idealism must, must yield to an equally healthy dose of skepticism and the willingness to learn what you sometimes don't quite want to. It's part of sucking it up and being a grown-up.

      Knowledge is power. The willingness to refuse it can be deadly.

      Shop for pearls from a Union Democrat - my aunt Maryjane's Sea of Pearls!

      by boofdah on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:17:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have also broken all ties (10+ / 0-)

      with Republican friends and relatives.  Unfortunately, it's most of my family and friends.

      Very, very, sad.  They still have not woken up, and until they do.  We are not speaking.

      -6.5, -7.59. I want to know who the men in the shadows are... ~Jackson Browne

      by DrWolfy on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:34:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have also broken ties with my wingnut (6+ / 0-)

        family and friends.

        It's wonderful!

      •  Wonderful diary. It comports with my (8+ / 0-)

        own schizoid political experience.

        I have two residences--one in the Washington, D.C. suburbs of northern Virginia and the other in rural Maine.

        In northern Virginia, those over-the-fence conversations between neighbors are rare, as is chatting in the grocery store checkout lines. (Heck, most people are furiously talking on their cell phones, so why bother?) Moreover, the NoVA populace--arguably "better informed"--is at the same time more hardened, I think, into political camps.

        The boonies of Maine (a purple state with two Republican senators?) are a different matter. All those "second amendment Republicans" (some would say "gun nuts"), cloth-apron Christians and the anti-tax/anti-government libertarian types are becoming more and more pissed each day as they realize they have been lied to nonstop for years now. It's almost palpable.

        IMO, there's a lot more room for political change among those who want to trust their neighbors and their leaders than the "informed" ideologues--and the former category includes huge population proportions in the red states. "Helping them" reject right-wing politicians and enablers is easier these days than it has been in years, so long as it is based on concrete observations, common wisdom, and mutual respect.

        I recognize that I'm making some huge generalizations here, but that's just the way it strikes me these days.

    •  you've been manipulated (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SadieB, feduphoosier

      When we as a nation begin to focus more intensely on our likenesses than our differences, we can begin to heal the terrible polarization that had been deliberately inserted into our culture by the common enemy of the people.

      If you have cut off all contact from your conservative friends, neighbors and family members during this administration, you have fallen for their game.

    •  GAS in Indiana (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Debby, feduphoosier

      How many people in Chicago do you know who trust their neighbors to pay for their own gas? The Oil companies own the stations and set the policies in them, not the Hoosiers that run them.

      I travel from N. Ind to DC via I80 etc. quite often and can't think of one station that lets you fuel up without paying first. The same going to Atlanta via I24 or I75.

      You must travel an awful lot of back roads to say that BP or Shell on an interstate in WI or MN wouldn't make someone pay first. That's laughable. And it's certainly not just in Indiana.

      •  Oh brother. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, ER Doc

        Better visit the state, buddy.  Or gal.  Cuz you know not what you are talking about.

        Yes, I have travelled basically every inch of MN and WI.  However, almost every station in Madison, WI does NOT require pay first.  As well as many in Milwaukee.  The majority right outside of the Twin Cities do not require pay first either.

        So start laughing - the joke's on you.

        You want names and addresses, that could be arranged.  But how about you make a visit first - save me some time.

        "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine 3730+ dead Americans. Bring them home.

        by Miss Blue on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:24:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'll back up Miss Blue on this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miss Blue

        The town I live in in Minnesota is right on I-94, 30 miles from the center of Minneapolis. The BP, Shell, Holiday, and SuperAmerica stations in town, as well as the small independents, all allow you to press the "pay inside" button and gas up, then go inside and pay. Virtually all the suburban and outstate stations I've visited in Minnesota have the same policy, as do the stations I visit traveling to family in Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska. When I get into the city of Minneapolis, and the first-ring suburbs, the pumps closest to the driveways are often pay-first. There are only a few stations, mostly in rougher neighborhoods, that are entirely "pay-first".

        -5.13, -5.33

        We are men of action; lies do not become us.

        by ER Doc on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:05:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Most of the stations (0+ / 0-)

      on busy roads ask you to pay first. Most of the stations elsewhere do not. I think it's silly to point at one practice of a very narrow set of businesses and call it psyche-revealing for the whole damn state.

      tragically un-hip

      -5.88, -6.82

      by Debby on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 04:35:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You almost hate to wake 'em up (22+ / 0-)

    Had a conversation recently with some republican-Americans, and they were willing to admit that BushCo has caused some problems, but they wanted me to understand that the "office of the President must be respected."

    And when they said that, I realized that, yes, this was a kind of innocence they were trying to protect - holding on to that last, vanishing bit of a time when there were underlying principles to our government and it wasn't solely an exercise in power and the acquisition of capital. That is, they remember when government was not a corporation.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 05:58:17 AM PDT

    •  "The American people want to know (9+ / 0-)

      that their president is not a crook."  --Richard M. Nixon

      Nanotech can take CO2 and make diamonds & fresh air. Sheep are the new PIE LouLost.com

      by Crashing Vor on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:00:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The "office of the President must be respected." (19+ / 0-)

      I wonder if they felt that way in 1998, when President Clinton's nuts were (literally) being hung out to dry.

      Shop for pearls from a Union Democrat - my aunt Maryjane's Sea of Pearls!

      by boofdah on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:18:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boofdah, The Raven

        Most people thought Clinton himself disrespected the office of the President.  

        A society of sheep must beget in time a government of wolves. Bertrand de Jouvenel

        by Little Red Hen on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:30:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I notice this attitude is often based on ideology (10+ / 0-)

          People who consider themselves "traditionalists" (read: women and minorities, get back in the back of the bus and SYFPHs) tend to get contradictorily hostile toward Clinton rather than GWB or his daddy, because they viewed Clinton as being opposed to everything they find sacred. Live and let live attitude, check. Tolerance for "the gay", check. A strong relationship with the African American community. Check. Empowerment of women, with Hillary symbolizing the strong, powerful, anti-Laura Bush First Lady. Check. In other words, everything the right-wing despises.

          To them, Bush's colossal sins can be forgiven--and his "office" can be respected--because he's done away with all of the progress that Clinton ushered forward. And the "traditionalists" have rejoiced.

          Shop for pearls from a Union Democrat - my aunt Maryjane's Sea of Pearls!

          by boofdah on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:34:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have to agree (9+ / 0-)

            I don't want to insult those here who, like Mellencamp, are perhaps romanticizing the "heartland."  

            In fact, over the years, I have even come to resent that word, "heartland" implying that the rest of us Amercians are not as important.  

            In some ways, it reminds me of those (some of my friends) who romanticize the 1950s.  They have this wonderful nostalgia about what a perfect time it was.
            Now, while I can wax poetic about being 10, and feeling happy and safe and playing, I have also been open to reality perhaps because unlike many of my friends, I learned early on that Mayberry RFD was only perfect for "certain select" people.

            Immigrant families (like my own) who started their working life early, pulled out of school to work in factories, were not skipping down the road whistling.
            There was prejudice and people who were not white, anglo saxon and protestant were viewed as different.
            When I went to college it was an eye opener for me.
            I was the first in my family and in my neighborhood to go to college.  Even more different I went away to college (as opposed to living at home and attending as a day student in the city).  Because costs were prohibitive I ended up as a small state college in rural PA.  Talk about culture shock. I was one of the very few kids who was catholic. Not one other person in my gang of friends had a mother who had worked.
            None of them knew their ethnic background since most traced their history way back...not knowing when or how their families arrived in America, while my mother, as well as my paternal grandparents, had come through Ellis Island.

            Anyway, my point was, from my experience, rural America, like the 1950s was wonderful if you happen to be white and protestant.  Most other groups did not get quite the open arms.  A guy I met and dated had grown up in the rural south.  He, like me, was a child of Italian immigrants, and catholic.  In the rural south, he never got that warm community feeling.

            A current friend of mine from the heartland, in my age group, told me that in her family, dating a catholic was worse than dating an "colored."  

            So I guess it's all in your pov as to what was great.

    •  That attitude is exactly why... (6+ / 0-)

      ...the burden is on us to expose the truth.  Conservatism, by definition, precludes any serious questioning of government.  That's our job.

      Don't hate Republicans, rescue them.

    •  The "office of the President must be respected." (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Raven, ER Doc

      Yeah, I just wish the current President believed the same thing...

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.

      by mataliandy on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:55:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Talking in grocery stores (25+ / 0-)

    Here's a little story.  

    Relatives from the urban West Coast were visiting us here in our small, rural town.  As we waited in line at the local supermarket, the clerk was asking the customer how the spouse was doing, were the kids coming to visit, etc.  My relative turned to me and said, "Doesn't that drive you crazy?"  To which I replied, "No.  That could be my lonely elderly mother.  Or someday ME."

    •  It has more to do with the store than the town (7+ / 0-)

      I live in NJ, in a town of about 20,000 in an area where the towns are pretty much flat up against each other. In my usual grocery store people talk to each other all the time -- the checkers, the baggers, the people waiting on line. One of the creepy things about 9/11/01 was going to the store late in the day and having it be almost totally quiet, with no talking except for the bare necessities of payment.

      There are two other grocery stores in the area, and people talk to each other much less, I've noticed. Those stores are larger and serve more people who are just driving through, so you're much less likely to run into someone you know, and less likely to get a checker you've used before, either.

      And I'll say one thing about NJ, we prefer to think of ourselves as "realistic", not "cynical".

      If I can't dance, it's not my revolution. -- Emma Goldman.

      by DoctorScience on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:39:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm also from New Jersey... (2+ / 0-)

        ....and even though I'm a short way from Philly, I'm in a relatively small town and people around here tend to be very friendly. A very liberal crowd here, too.

      •  Size (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dem in the heart of Texas

        is definitely part of it, and in a rural or ex-urban area, the stores are nearly always smaller.  The trend in most urban areas is towards ever larger mega stores which is exacerbating the problem.

        We lived in a very urban area for over 30 years, and in the last 20 years were lucky to recognize or chat with 1 person in 6 months in the local grocery store--which was twice the size of the 2 stores we shopped at when we first moved there.  Everyone is in a hurry, people have tired children in tow whom they incessantly (and futilely) scold, parking lots are crowded, lines are long and patience short.  Many of our urban areas have become unliveable, IMHO.

  •  Indiana sounds a lot (10+ / 0-)

    like Southern Ontario.  People talk in line, smile at each other on the street.

    I was just in Philadelphia and smiling at people and saying hello freaked them right out.

    You are absolutely right that we are being divided purposefully.  The elites and powerful are working very hard to distract us from the real enemies by making us hate each other.

    They have succeeded in separating me from my in-laws and my son's godfather.

    -6.5, -7.59. I want to know who the men in the shadows are... ~Jackson Browne

    by DrWolfy on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:30:55 AM PDT

  •  Often I forget... (21+ / 0-)

    ..that not everyone I encounter spends as much time on progressive websites or following political news - they simply have other interests and things on their plates.
    So, when I start talking to them about things I read on dKos, or Talking Points Memo, it is as if I were relating current events on Mars.
     Mind you, these are good folks.  They are kind, compassionate, reasonable people whose focus has been elsewhere - and they are shocked when I go into detail on, for example, just why the US Attorney firings were of such importance.  The information they had gotten from Traditional Media was that it was just a witch-hunt, but when they hear the back story, especially in the context of Gonzo's resignation, you can see the light-bulbs going off and they become indignant.
     So, like the gentle people of Indiana's farm communities, they are good folks who just need information.
     Lovely diary, by the way.

    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

    by drchelo on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:31:54 AM PDT

  •  I had to go to Indianapolis once (4+ / 0-)

    on business and I did find the people very friendly. However, there is no way in hell I could bring myself to live there. When I got to the suburban office park, there seemed to be a social/cultural uniformity that I find repugnant. I much prefer the mixed up, crazy, but ultimately more interesting rudeness of New York.

    "Rhymes overflowin', gradually growin', everything is written in a code so it co-in- cide"- Rakim

    by brooklynbadboy on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:32:36 AM PDT

    •  Carmel freaks some of us out too. (5+ / 0-)

      When I visited Carmel, a northern suburb of Indianapolis, I thought that I had entered Stepford, where people don't sleep -- they recharge.  At the time I lived in Schererville in the state's northwest corner, which was about 96% white.  

      Dems in 2008: An embarassment of riches. Repubs in 2008: Embarassments.

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:18:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Carmel is exactly where i was too. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        indybend

        I thought I had walked into the twilight zone.

        "Rhymes overflowin', gradually growin', everything is written in a code so it co-in- cide"- Rakim

        by brooklynbadboy on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:58:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Carmel is like that. (0+ / 0-)

          It's where all the specialists and executives who pull in a ton of money, or those willing to spend to make it look like they do, live.

          Try the Fountain Square district, or Broadripple, or Irvington.

          Indianapolis feels more like a lot of small towns that are right next to each other than one large city.

    •  Indy is a great town----daughter lives there (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Debby, BillyZoom, indybend

      and loves it----has a huge group of young friends there who also love it.  And as we have become more familiar with all the different neighborhoods and eclectic areas and all the natural beauaty, we also think it is a gem.  She knows where to hang out, and it's not the suburban office mall----there are some real interesting, liberal, artsy areas----and some great restaurants, clubs etc.  Also many close-in newly integrated, newly renovated, successful neighborhoods.
       We happened to be staying downtown right before the last election and I put a Kerry sign in my hotel room window and looked out at many Kerry signs in office windows in all directions.  

      •  Kerry won Indianapolis (0+ / 0-)

        Kerry won Indianapolis/Marion Cty. I loved seeing all the signs, too! I hope we'll be even bluer next year!

        And Indy is great if you know where to look. I need to log off and head downtown to Mass Ave. because I'm going to our Fringe Festival tonight. There's a lot to do here if you look.

        tragically un-hip

        -5.88, -6.82

        by Debby on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 04:40:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent job capturing the midwest. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snazzzybird, feduphoosier, llbear

    It's odd.  I'm completely cynical about national matters, but in my work in local government, I find myself giving most everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Is that cognitive dissonance on my part, or schizophrenia?  I dunno. Maybe the real truth is in the middle somewhere.

    ...each day the dread of learning who has fallen, who will not return from this terrible war.

    by althea in il on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:38:08 AM PDT

  •  Life in a small town (11+ / 0-)

    I grew up in a small northern Indiana town - very conservative with a large population of Amish, Mennonite and Brethern. My dad was a history teacher and coach at the local high school for 45 years. He wouldn't even buy his beer or cigarattes in this town - instead he would drive 10 miles to the neighboring town to purchase those items.

    My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last Sunday.  Many of his former high school students and ball players as well as neighbors and relatives came to give good wishes.  When he started teaching in this town he was only 23 years old so many of his former students are in their late 50's.

    One of them starting relating the story of how he remembered being in my dad's class when it was announced that JFK had been killed. He said he was so surprised at my father's reaction of tears and distress because everyone knew what a Republican he was.

    I about spit out my coffee. My father is so liberal it's not even funny. All I could say before my dad came up and squashed the conversation was "well, Moose, it's been a while since you've talked politics with my dad!"

    Occassionally they'll call and say "you'll never guess what we found out!! So and so is one of us!" The last one was a minister of one of the Mennonite churches.

    I

  •  the state (3+ / 0-)

    I have numerous relatives from Indiana and have visited the state many times, although I never have lived there myself.  Almost all of my Hoosier relatives subscribe to a very naive and propaganda-inflected conservatism--the president is "one of us" and he's our president like it or not, the media is unfair and liberal and tries to stir things up, what's good for big business is good for the country, college professors and judges are out-of-touch intellectuals, and so on.  And I've always noted how, in the networks' big gray maps of the US on election night, Indiana always is one of the first states to become red.

    The state is still quite rural.  If you drive through some of the small towns, a lot of them have only three buildings of any size:  city hall, the church, and the high school basketball arena.  I'm not saying that's bad.  It is, however, an environment that whoever we nominate for president should try to understand, and well.

  •  One word, brainwashed (4+ / 0-)

    Because they were raised to believe that people are basically honest, upstanding and honorable... they were caught totally off guard by the neocons.  I have to keep reminding people; not all Republicans are neocons and many Republican citizens consider themselves 'Republican' based on an  illusionary brand that turned into a snare:  a trap that was baited with their ideals of honor and good citizenship.

    I say this not to denigrate anyone, but if truth is not spoken, change can not occur. Also, it is important, not for purposes of retribution, but for purposes of setting an example, that the neo-cons' conduct of the past 20 years have an explanation

  •  The Right (9+ / 0-)

    can only exist in that gap between 'Yes - strong leadership!' and 'WTF is happening here?'

    If people weren't naive the Right wouldn't exist. You'd get the Klan and other crazies off in the fringes, but the Right would be so far out of the mainstream that it would be invisible.

    There's a golden opportunity here to make these naive people realise that the real motivations of their favourite 'Have a beer' politicians is corruption, sadism, exploitation and perversion.

    Done properly, it would push the extreme Right out to the fringes where it belongs, and make them unelectable.

    But that's not going to happen - because the Dem net roots are almost as naive about the motivations of their leaders, most of whom consider the people their enemies, and those corrupt Repubs their colleagues.

    We've already seen NO movement on impeachment, NO movement on accountability, NO movement on ending the war in Iraq, NO pressure on environmental issues, NO moves towards affordable health care.

    There's been a lot of grandstanding and speechifying and excuse-making, but NO forceful action.

    So - it's not just the Hoosiers who are being naive here. And the Great Swindle may turn out to be a lot less one-sided than it looks.

    "Be kind" - is that a religion?

    by ThatBritGuy on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:39:54 AM PDT

  •  Americans are ignorant of foreign affairs (4+ / 0-)

    and have a superficial understanding of global history and politics.  If you only read or hear American news, you get only one perspective, and now with media owned by partisans, you get all the news and opinion they want you to hear.  

    I think the news input in rural America is even more provincial, because of the lack of diversity there.

    And I still can't understand how anyone sticks with Bush. He can bail out 80,000 people with lousy mortagages that they can't afford to pay, but two years later, the people in New Orleans still need matching funds to get government help.

    W=Worst ever and makes Nixon's crimes look like disorderly conduct.

    If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. --Mark Twain

    by Desert Rose on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:40:29 AM PDT

    •  One correction may be in order here. (4+ / 0-)

      I don't believe Bush has any intention of bailing out people with lousy mortgages that they can't afford to pay.  If anything, he'll consider bailing out the financiers of those mortgages so they don't take the losses.  Losses are for the little people to bear.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:35:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The ultimate outcome is (0+ / 0-)

        these homeowners are rescued from their overconsumption, while homeowners in the Ninth Ward get no relief.

        Bush's proposals would make it easier for borrowers currently holding adjustable rate mortgages to refinance using the resources of the Federal Housing Administration, a Depression-era agency created to help low- and moderate-income Americans afford homes.

        An estimated 60,000 homeowners who have fallen behind on their payments because their mortgages have reset would be able to refinance with FHA-insured loans. That marks a significant change because now FHA does not insure refinanced loans from borrowers who are currently delinquent.

        To qualify for the new program, being called FHA Secure, a borrower must prove that the original loan was being repaid until it reset to a higher rate and must have 3 percent equity in the home. The FHA does not supply the mortgage loan but it guarantees loans extended by banks and other lenders.

        http://hosted.ap.org/...

        If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. --Mark Twain

        by Desert Rose on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:27:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Trust but Verify" (9+ / 0-)

    I watched the show and I was thinking Mellencamp was trying to be nice about these poor naive people that populate rural America.  I admired him for that.  And they have been swindled.  But Bill Maher was absolutely correct. There comes a point in a person's life when they need to grow up and stop believing in fairy tales and "Little Pink Houses".

    Part of the problem is the education system isn't doing a good job of opening the minds of these folks at a young age and keeping their minds open.  And Maher had an excellent segment on that with the video of Miss Tenn South Carolina.

    "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed." Abe Lincoln

    by mdgarcia on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:40:43 AM PDT

  •  "Beware their wrath as they learn the truth." (6+ / 0-)

    Amen to that.

    I am endlessly vindicated by the unfolding of history.

    by Rob Cole on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 06:51:27 AM PDT

  •  Amen. I take no joy in the (6+ / 0-)

    misfortune of those whose opinions differ from mine. I don't think that they're all evil.  They are my neighbors and friends, and I know that the only way I will ever change their minds is to stay friends with them and change their minds through rational discourse.

    Great diary, great example for all of us.

    Because everyone has one. Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:00:25 AM PDT

  •  I'm not from the midwest... (6+ / 0-)

    but am originally from a small town in upstate NY... where I still have lots of connections. I see the same characteristics you describe there... the shelter of living in a place where you know your neighbors and, as you say, work side by side, no matter what your politics.

    In fact, in every part of the country I've lived, from urban California, Southwestern places, and suburban New Jersey, I can say our small towns seem to be microcosms of much larger, more diverse places. There are people who are nice and neighborly. Some who are easily led, who prefer to embrace what makes sense to them while shunning facts and reality. There are progressive and educated people in all of those places. And, despite cultural and demographic differences, small town "values" can be found in many places.

    Like JM, I feel some compassion for those all over our country who want things to remain simple and easy to understand. However, like many of the commenters here, I also feel some anger that so many seem willfully ignorant, especially given our nation's recent experiences with Vietnam, Watergate, various politician scandals, questionable elections, etc.

    Your diary and JM's views are very good summaries of some of our differences. I agree that is is very sad that those differences are being used to divide us, instead of using our common humanity to unite us.

  •  As a Hoosier who spent the summer in (9+ / 0-)

    New Hampshire, I really got a kick out of your descriptions of grocery line conversations.  Now I'm back in Brown county chatting away at the IGA & JayC!
    It's too bad our local store's don't have the selection that Hannifords or Shaws have.

    Mellencamp played Boston over the 4th of July and I was struck by how "alien" he seemed when interviewed on Boston TV. I was already so New Englandized that he seemed like a sort of earthy prophet from the Heartland.

    Cheers to John for the perspective his travels have given him. (I'd much rather hear him talk than sing)
    And as far as "the Swindle", I would invite any midwesterner to visit Kennebunkport to see for themselves which side of the road the Walker Bush clan is from.

  •  Grossly Corrupt at the State Level Too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, planetclaire4

    Years ago I worked for the State of Ohio, where the same sort of innocent expectations and friendly atmosphere were the rule.  All their politicians were corrupt, the Republican ones were shockingly, grossly corrupt.  Failure to address these problems, and to adjust one's expectations to reality, make corruption the growth industry that it is.  

  •  Shock (8+ / 0-)

    Went to the store, came back... internet wasn't working AGAIN.  Finally got in and was checking to see what was new on the rec list...

    :o

  •  I love Midwestern people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    saralee, feduphoosier

    I've always been a fan of Garrison Keillor, because his show actually shows a depth of local roots, when most developers and companies are trying to make houses and schools and restaurants exactly the same from here to maine regardless of climate and infrastructure and culture.  It seems really hard trying to preserve anything local out here.

    There's a "glass half full" pragmatic optimism about Midwestern people.  It's not all sunshine and rainbows but it's forward-thinking and humane, usually.

    We live in the age of the elected dictatorship and liberal states without democracy: write accordingly.

    by Nulwee on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:06:31 AM PDT

  •  Like John Mellencamp, I play tennis with a (5+ / 0-)

    lot of retired people who always supported Bush. But these days they regularly curse him. Something has changed there too.

    Well? Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

    by whenwego on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:10:11 AM PDT

    •  I hope what you write about is catching on. nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Iddybud, testvet6778, feduphoosier

      The distinction that goes with mere office runs far ahead of the distinction that goes with actual achievement. H.L. Mencken

      by BenGoshi on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:24:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Definitely changed, The guys used to (0+ / 0-)

        sit on the sidelines and curse the Democrats before 2006. Suddenly they are cursing Gonzo and Bush. Unfortunately I live in California, which is already blue!

        Well? Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

        by whenwego on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 05:01:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  My stress level (0+ / 0-)

      with this administration was much lower when I had someone with whom I could play tennis.  Being able to hit the crap out of a tennis ball a couple of times a week made a huge difference.  I'm jealous.

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

      by TracieLynn on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:29:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Usually it's Hunter that does the Pulitzer stuff. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    From the choir, testvet6778, slksfca

    You just did one yourself.  Thank you for this.  Hoosiers and their fellow Americans throughout the country are, in their ways, not a whole lot different in this sense, what you point out about talking straight and expecting others will reciprocate.  Certainly their are utter chuckleheads and creeps and sociopathic narcissists among us, too (who are naturally Republican), but I think that that of which you, and Mellencamp, speak is an underreported and underestimated phenomenon.  Of course, GOP candidates and doomed-to-hell sobs like Rove understand this all very, very well.  And exploit it to their own nefarious ends.

    BenGoshi
    ____________________________________________________

    The distinction that goes with mere office runs far ahead of the distinction that goes with actual achievement. H.L. Mencken

    by BenGoshi on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:18:24 AM PDT

  •  One Reaganism that Made Sense (7+ / 0-)

    Trust but verify.

    Maher doesn't trust anymore - that's what cynicism is.

    Hoosiers trust but don't verify whether the object of their trust deserves that trust.

    Mellencamp is on to something.  Everyone believes that everyone else thinks like they do.  If they're cynical, everyone must be cynical.  If they are secretly racist, those other folks won't do the right thing because they're racist.  If they're religious, everyone must naturally and potentially be religious.  If they are trustworthy, everyone must be trustworthy.

    •  Maher is a one trick pony (0+ / 0-)

      and that horse is too cynical .. I agree. I enjoy watching his antics, but too often that is in the final analysis what you get from the show - antics. Something to laugh at. Very little to 'take home'.

      It's fine for a TV show. As a political force, it's not sustainable.

      socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

      by shpilk on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:24:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My experience with a hoosier (8+ / 0-)

    My brother-in-law lives in Indiana.  He is the perfect Indiana resident...He votes Republican, though all parts of his life say he should be voting Democrat...He works for a union, and when he was recently unemployed for a length of time, he went to the state that pays the highest unemployment to file for his unemployment benefits.  When he recently filed bankruptcy, he made sure to hurry and do it before the laws changed.  He doesn't go to church, but judges other people based on their 'christianity'.
    He recently got divorced also (no, things are going well there...but let's not look at why!), but you know, divorce is the perogative of heterosexuals.  

    Well, anyway, there's no real point to this post, other than to rant about my in-law. Carry on.

    •  in laws are like outlaws some are good and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tom P, llbear

      some are bad  rofl

      "A journey of a thousand miles begins with but one step"

      by testvet6778 on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:34:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A good point you made (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AlanF, Tom P, dogemperor

      I happen to believe that, in rural America, too many people judge their neighbors based on their 'christianity'. The present economic order, with people losing homes to swindler-investors and the social safety net being systematically whacked by Republicans, puts that current order on probation with the kind of voter who would put stock in the 'Social Gospel.'

      If they were to truly look at things based on their 'christianity', the continued existence of the market's justification (the only thing Bush still hangs his hat on) must not be found in the wealth produced (and filtered to the richest in the hope that crumbs will be donated to the poor) or the power gained (for Republicans), but in its contribution to social service and to justice.

      The new magachurches, by stressing private faith with decidely conservative leadership, have not helped rural Americans to understand their communal place and responsibilities in an America where social ideals matter in civic life.

      Back in our nation's history, despite the conservative forces that worked against it, the New Deal went forward by the will of the people and created the conditions whereby many of today's rural seniors go to the mailbox and collect a much-needed check. This was made possible a long time ago....without the help from a majority of faith leaders.

      Thank GOD for FDR's leadership. We can't thank most of the faith leaders from that time period.

      In the book "Faith in Politics", I was surprised to learn that in a survey of more than 21,000 Protestant clergymen, 70% opposed the New Deal. In teh mid-30s, the Layman's Religious movement was formed within the Methodist church to "combat social liberalism." The Southern Baptist convention likened the New Deal to atheism and communism.

      Times haven't changed all that much. It's an uphill battle for liberal people of faith to convince their faith leaders to preach in the social gospel tradition. If they did, a lot of rual Americans who place the value of community and faith highly would start realizing how to truly judge others based on their faith values. They'd SCREAM for change.

      Whether or not our faith leaders are conscious of it, they are mesmerizing their flocks with religion while pretending that government is sinful, and that elected leaders are sinful, by taking tax dollars and creating public policy that is socially responsible.  

         

  •  How do we effectively show them the "swindle"? (6+ / 0-)

    According to facts laid out in the book Foxes in the Henhouse by Steve Jarding and Dave Saunders, there are 2,052 counties that make up rural America. 59 million people. 21% of the population. [2003 census]. And these people are taking a hit in jobs, educational opportunity, infrastructure, and healthcare and healthcare facilities. The more rural America votes red, the worse things get for them. Bush won rural America by a 59-to-40% margin in 2004. People earning under $30k in rural America voted for Bush by a 52-to-47 percent margin. Yet, Bush/Cheney have done little for rural America. As a matter of fact, they've been a disaster in reducing rural poverty.

    Iowa food and nutrition programs took the brunt of proposed cuts in the FY 2007 budget. These cuts to federal food and social service programs meant that 4000 low-income senior citizens in Iowa lost the coupons they get to buy fresh produce in grocery stores and at farmers' markets.

    Nearly two million more people than before he's come to power had fallen below the poverty line in Bush's first five years of office.

    If the good people of Iowa and other rural places in America don't see a connection between the lip-service they get from people who take their votes for granted and the reality of the Republicans issuing the nation’s least privileged citizens in rural America a "how do you do" by systematically whacking their already-anemic social safety net, Democrats need to find a more efficient way of getting them to THINK about it.
     

    •  In the "Foxes In The Henhouse" book (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Iddybud

      Jardin and Saunders lay out a pretty good history of how the Republicans have created the " cultural divide" that allows people to vote against they're own self-interest .                                                                          
           When someone in the heartland watches Bill Maher
      they're going to see someone that mocks anyone who goes to church or owns a gun.
                 
       

      " Freedom is about authority "...Rudy Giuliani

      by jnhobbs on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:19:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've met a lot of principled conservatives (6+ / 0-)

    In my short life. I disagree with them passionately, but I don't question their patriotism. I don't fall into the trap of "oh, you're just looking for an excuse for a tax cut". A lot of them genuinely believe this will help their country. They are the kinds of people who always want to know "... but how much does it cost?", or "... but are we just encouraging people to be mooches?" They feel very passionate about small government, balanced budgets, and personal responsibility.

    Honestly, I don't think those are terrible principles. But Republicans don't balance budgets OR shine as an example of personal responsibility. And even if I ignore how much I loathe this small executive-of-one in the name of small government, and the gross inadequacies of our schools to our bridges... what pisses me off is big anything. What makes this much corporate power better than big government? At least we can vote big government out. I worry that religion is getting "too big" and needs to keep to the community level, and I say this as a "believer". And as much as I blame Bush and Cheney for Iraq, I am TEN TIMES as pissed off at big media for selling that war.

    There's a real opportunity to show that our principles are better, here. Something better than small government and personal responsibility -- which sound pretty good, if you treat them as mere slogans. Part of this opportunity is articulating our principles in a way that is both inherently appealing, but also a response to peoples' disillusionment with conservative/republican principles.

    there are only two sides -- with the troops or with the President

    by danthrax on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:30:57 AM PDT

  •  I was raised in the mid-west as it's called (3+ / 0-)

    Michigan from 1955 thru 1963 then we moved to Calif  when my Dad retired from Olds, I went back to Olivet for high school, so most of my realy years are Michigan, we were raised to believe in our government, we still used to do the Pledge of Allegiance, and Morning Prayers, the Nuclear disaster drills where e1 went out in the hallways by the lockers and bent over to kiss your azz goodbye, the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam is where we learned to stop trusting the government, the "Pentagon papers"  the CIA and their dirty little secrets exposed in the Church Committee, and the Rockefeller Commission (Nelson the VP under Ford) and we learned that our government was quite deceptive, and did not always do things honest and above board, but not until now have we seen the likes of national spying on citizens, NSA wiretaps, the words of fear that led Congress to allow Habeas Corpus to be suspended, anyone can be locked up and denied an attorney not just "terrorists" ask Jose Padilla he was never charged with having a "dirty bomb" and he was interrogated with chemicals (LSD) the Congresses willingness to let Gonzo do away with the geneva Conventions  with comments like "it was a quaint document" but outdated, the willingness let the Justice Department become an arm of the RNC

    I want the days of trusting our government back, but like we have heard many times  trust, but verify, I am afraid this mid western raised man will demand the negatives and be shown "real evidence" not manufactured BS

    "A journey of a thousand miles begins with but one step"

    by testvet6778 on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:31:42 AM PDT

  •  This beautiful diary portrays my "neighborhood" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, From the choir, joanneleon

    as well.  I live in Central Illinois, or "downstate" as they call it in Chicago.  As I'm sure most Kossacks know, it's Chicago that makes Illinois a blue state; the part I live in is as red as Indiana or Kansas.  However, the winds of change are blowing across the prairie, for the reasons the diarist articulates so well:

    Because they were raised to believe that people are basically honest, upstanding and honorable... they were caught totally off guard by the neocons.  I have to keep reminding people; not all Republicans are neocons and many Republican citizens consider themselves 'Republican' based on an  illusionary brand that turned into a snare:  a trap that was baited with their ideals of honor and good citizenship.

    Beware their wrath as they learn the truth.  

    Do they get it yet?  I think they are starting to, in greater and greater numbers, and in spite of the media propaganda.  The scandals, the lies, the greed... this isn't how we do things here.

    Our troops won the war. Bush lost the peace.

    by snazzzybird on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:36:18 AM PDT

  •  Skepticism, Not Cynicism (5+ / 0-)

    Cynicism isn't necessary in today's political world.  All we need is more skepticism.  The cynic says "I know you're all lying."  The skeptic says "Show me the facts and I'll decide who's reliable."

  •  Beautifully written diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    From the choir, LibChicAZ

    Thanks from a tiny spot of blue in a sea of red.

  •  John and I grew up poor. (7+ / 0-)

    And we learned from our parents that Republicans value money, and Democrats value people. That's been our protection against ever falling for the blandishments of the Bushes, no matter how earnest and flag-wrapped they look.

    -9.0, -8.3. "My immigration policy is written on the base of the Statue of Liberty." -my brother

    by SensibleShoes on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:41:11 AM PDT

  •  My dad built our house in the early '50's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeffersonian Democrat, LibChicAZ

    To this day we aren't sure if we have keys for the doors.  Same for the neighbors.  That's the kind of town I live in.

    Help wanted: Veteran's Administrator. Requirements: Hates Bush / Loves Vets. Somebody call Paul Rieckhoff. Thankyouverymuch

    by llbear on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:42:39 AM PDT

  •  Bobby Knight (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mediaprisoner, drmah

    At least at the individual level, I see some parallels between the unquestioning support of Bush and the unquestioning support of Bobby Knight.  I have one Hoosier relative who, a number of years ago, stopped subscribing to Sports Illustrated simply because he didn't like the magazine's take on Knight as a domineering bully.

    I asked him at the time whether the other 99.9% of SI's typical annual content mattered.  It did not.

  •  Devil's advocate here..... (9+ / 0-)

    I grew up on the edges of Philadelphia, in a small steel town where people lived and were identified by their ethnic group.   There were neighborhoods.  People were friendly and also hard working, albeit stereotyped differently by many of those who lived in rural PA.

    When I went to college (the first in the neighborhood), I was suddenly in rural PA where I was different. Rural PA is not much different from the midwest. Small towns and farms, republican and patriotic, overwhelmingly white and protestant.

    The differences (to me) in the 1960s when I went college is that while rural America saw themselves as the real America, they viewed my family differently.
    I think that is why when I heard John's comment, like Maher I felt anger too, but maybe for different reasons.

    This notion that those of us who did not grow up in rural America, in small towns like Mayberry, were not as American, as friendly or as patriotic has always bugged me.
    I think back to the friends I made in college. Good people, and I remain close with them.  Not one of their fathers had seen action in WWII.  Four out of five of my father's brothers were in action in WWII.
    In fact in my neighborhood, every single dad had seen action.  Many of my cousins and friends had gone to Vietnam. Only one of all of their family had gone to Vietnam.

    While my friends used to talk about their small towns, towns where everyone was white, anglo saxon and protestant, I used to talk of a town with "neighborhoods of ethnicity."  I knew where to go for great Polish sausage, for the best Jewish deli's.  The playgrounds in my neighborhood has some of the best summer leagues for the young black men in our area.  Even in the 1950's while we still lived in ethnic neighborhoods, all the kids went to the same school, played on the same playgrounds, gathered at the same Fellowship House club and used the same library.

    Sadly in the mid 1950's we separated as ethnic catholic schools sprung up to segregate us all, though we all came together in one central high school.  

    So I guess patriotism and friendliness can be in the eye of the beholder. I have chosen to live in the city.  I love city people. I find them as friendly and as welcoming as anyone albeit a little less closed to those who are different. I also think the patriotism in the cities is less naive and more forward thinking.  Here in my adopted red state just like in PA, one has to live in the city, to view patriotism differently.  John Melloncamp called it cynical. I disagree.

    Not saying that small town American is evil but I have to wonder how friendly those people are to Muslims, to Jews, to those who do not "fit" in the mold of truck driving, Nascar loving, flag wavers.

    Just sayin....

    •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bablhous, girlsanger

      If you are a minority, the urban enviorments become a LOT more friendly then then the non-urban in the US.
      As a gay guy from Jewish descent there are very few non-urban places I would feel totally comfortable lving in. Living here in San Francsico is pretty heavenly and very friendly for me and I know that this would not be true in rural midwestern and southern towns.
      I also feel a little offended by this idea of rural "friendly " America as the "real" America. America is great and special, in my opinion, because of our diversity and that is best reflected in our urban areas. I'd much rather encounter and interact with Indian, Chinese, Black, Muslim, and lesbian Americans in a single day then have polite small talk in a grocery line.

      •  My best friend (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        noveocanes

        (sadly deceased now) was a woman of Jewish descent from NY.  We meant out here in CO, in a white bread town at the time (now grown into a much more cosmopolitan area), in the 1970s.

        As I grew up from in a larger Italian American neighborhood in Philadelphia, she and I immediately hit it off.  We could laugh at some of the same looks we both got from other people...people who found us to loud, to assertive (for women), and too liberal and eastern.  

        Once we went out shopping for a Menorah for her house and we went to a Hallmark store in the mall, and the clerk had no idea what it was.  It was like 1978 and people here were clueless about other cultures.

        And my romantic idea about cowboys was destroyed the first year I lived here.  

        •  Jewish and Italian Americans (0+ / 0-)

          My familiy's closest friends in NJ were Italians. They were also my "family".
          Both cultures are loud and obsessed with food and,more importantly, extremely warm and value family over everything else.

          •  Yes, Randi and I used to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            noveocanes

            laugh about that.

            Out here in the west, I feel much more in touch with the Mexican American culture than with the rest.

            I have one friend whose cowboy husband was rude about my family.  He couldn't understand how we could hear each other....we were loud and laughed and yelled and argued and ate.  I concurred with him...we were all those things ...we were passionate about it all too.

    •  Thanks for your comment. (0+ / 0-)

      I have lived on both coasts and many, many places in between.

      I have talked in grocery store lines in all of those places. I have been warmly responded to and coldly rebuffed in all of those places. It has more to do with the particular person, the situation and the times than the location.

      People everywhere are basically the same. They are kind and they are cruel. We are all the same basic model.

      I have been uncomfortable reading this diary and was about to go on to other things when I read your comment. Thank you again.

      "Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner" -- James Bovard

      by bablhous on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 02:45:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your very welcome (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bablhous

        and I think you hit the nail on the head.

        I just think there is this perception that cities are filled with cold, unfriendly people and the small midwestern towns are filled with the friendlies.

        I think there is a spattering of everything everywhere.

  •  Naivite vs Critical thought (9+ / 0-)

    Obedience vs Questioning authority

    To be naive is to be unskilled in critical thinking. It is to be uninformed and unquestioning. It is to take things at face value, without delving, without skepticism.

    For a democracy to actually work the population must not be naive. The population must be informed and discerning in order to make voting decisions that serve the interests of their communities. When one is naive he or she never questions the "authority" of the media, the government, the ruling class and so their decisions serve the interests of the authorities and not their own.

    The key to change, to restoring a functional democracy, then is to spread the skill of critical thinking.

    It's always because we love that we are rebellious; it takes a great deal of love to give a damn ~Kenneth Patchen~

    by cosmic debris on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:47:38 AM PDT

  •  Love the diary feduphoosir! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    From the choir, feduphoosier

    Very nicely done my friend.

  •  I Don’t Agree At All (4+ / 0-)

    I understand your point that these people are honest and expect others to be honest as well. What I do not understand is their automatic distrust of anyone that holds a different set of views. The republicans can do no wrong but Bill Clinton or any democrat opens his or her mouth they are lying. I need some clarification as to why Karl Rove can blind these people with his machinations and democrats have to walk on water for these people to give them the same level of trust.

    I don’t think it’s because they are trusting and expect no one to lie to them, it’s more complicated and has to do with their own self imposed blinders regarding the views of others. If honesty was the only problem than the percentage of Bush supporters in the Midwest should be in the single digits, given all the information that has come out regarding how we went to war. You need a very thick filter not to be taken back by all the lies of this administration over the years.

    Midwesterners’ propensity to trust what others are saying is not their problem. Their problem is a world view that leaves no room for any argument that may disagree with their's. When you are unable to sit through a valid argument with the facts and re-address your views according to new information you are not naïve, you are on some level an EXTREMIST.

  •  I appreciate this diary, (5+ / 0-)

    and I think it raises an important question:

    How do you go about starting a current-events conversation with these people—especially when you know any information that contradicts their world view will be met with either:

    disbelief  ("I don't know about that. That's not what I've read/heard/seen")
    dispute ("That's a lie. Fox/Rush/Sean/Bill say otherwise.")
    discomfort ("Don't trouble me with this. I have enough problems of my own.")
    despair ("If everything you say is true, we're doomed anyway.")
    embarrassment ("I feel stupid for not knowing any of these facts.")

    ...all of which lead to DISTANCING, something we don't want to do with our friends, family, co-workers.  I believe that's a big problem.  Many of us don't want to risk estranging the people in our lives by making them face the difficult truth—the truth about the state of our country and, perhaps, about themselves.

    So, we keep quiet to keep the peace.  

    So- back to my question:  how do we overcome our fear of distancing others and begin to 'raise the subject' with the people in our lives?  And where we start?  

    •  If you listen to Mellencamp's lyrics (5+ / 0-)

      You can hear him trying.  Its tricky.  Because while Mellencamp has at least some 'authority,' I have virtually none.  I can't compete with the preacher, the guy on TV, or heaven forbid, the prez.  Its the authority thing, I really believe that; because the people I know who grew up in those churches really do think that way.  

      I grew up with these kids, and before any of us knew about politics, we knew each other pretty well.  We were all mixed together.  So I know them as people first, later as 'conservatives.'  

      I went to church with one, Baptist I think, and was scared to death.  They were all trying to save me... I nearly fled the place, because the preacher was basically telling me that if I didn't convert on the spot I'd be damned to hell; and he did this in front of everyone. So I see the powerful mind trips they are on, and from birth.  

      I'm not even sure they realize that this is working inside of them when it comes to media and politics.

    •  I've been trying to do this (4+ / 0-)

      with one of my relatives; our relationship isn't that delicate so I'm trying it out on her and hopefully will be able to use what I learn there on more delicate relationships.  One thing I've found is that it's important to inject humor when you can, and to bring the other person's point of view into the discussion as much as possible.  You also have to let the conversation wander, as conversations will do.  Then they don't feel like they're being bombarded with negativity or being condescended to.

      Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

      by tryptamine on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:43:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  OKAY ...... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2lucky, bablhous, tommymet

    So these honorable and good, good people's main fault is too much trust and loyalty, because they themselves are so very trusting, loyal and truthful.

    Oh certainly. So why did they sign on to hate and distrust liberals, why do they utterly distrust the "liberal" media in favor of Fox "news," and why do they turn from Christ's actual doctrine in favor of some hate-filled preacher's politically oriented views?

    Sorry, not buying it.  

    It's a Right-wing, conservative, Republican war.

    by J Royce on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 07:59:21 AM PDT

    •  Wrote it in above comment (4+ / 0-)

      Let me try it again here.

      I'm not a big fan of organized religion anymore, and this is a big reason why.  Its noteworthy that our nation's founders were leery of religion and not terribly religious (if not outright agnostics or athiests) themselves.  They believed in reason.  Lincoln, same thing.  'Cold hard reason.'  Its the exact opposite, from my experience, in these Bible Belt right wing churches.  

      People are taught from such an early age, with fire and brimstone sermons, to be afraid and to obey or they will be DAMNED TO THE FIRES OF HELL that they grow up, I don't know, perhaps unable to conceive of questioning government or 'authority.'  Not just the churches' authority, but any authority.  And their reason muscle grows weak from lack of use.

      And when I speak of this Hoosier friendliness and honesty; this is everyone, liberals and conservatives together.  Not just conservatives.  We all talk to each other in check out lines.  

      The hate, when its there, comes from the media, and from... the churches.  And I believe it is deliberately put there to divide us, for control.  Organized religions are often big on control.  

      Why do they believe it?  They were raised to believe it, and scared so early and so badly that they probably would be afraid to question it for a second.

      •  be careful of cold hard reason (0+ / 0-)

        it was cold hard reason that produced the bean-counters and bureaucrats overhere at Auswitz and Dachau ... and they really weren't counting beans.

        Overall, having grown up in South Dakota, I understand exactly what you are saying in this diary and what John is also saying.  I can't explain it, just relate to it from experience.

        I currently live in a small town in Germany.  My German fiancee goes nuts when I say hello to a stranger on the street, "what, are you crazy?  Typical American!".  But it's not fun, it's not what a small town is about... so closed and cold.  I think, however, it is a product of cultural experience and history here.

        Unfortunately, I've begun to feel that way as well.  My turning point was last August, when they found a mass grave of crippled and mentally-ill murdered children (48 bodies) in our Catholic cemetary.  Now I never look through my old, naive, boy-scout eyes when seeing elderly people ... I don't want to help them across the street anymore, now I find myself asking myself "what did you know and what did you do or not do?"

        I guess I should just say: let that be a warning.

        "Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the bastard is dead, the bitch that bore him is again in heat." -Bertolt Brecht

        by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:52:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  These are just my experiences, living here (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine

      I never thought about who was 'liberal' and who was 'conservative' when I was a kid.  And I grew up in Bloomington, so the adults around were mostly liberal.  The kids... we didn't care much about politics at school and never discussed it.  I just watched it all on TV with my parents at home, and they ranted about Nixon and Watergate and the war over my head.

      Mellencamp never mentioned the conservative churches, but this is what I've always believed caused such radical differences in the way I and my conservative friends would think.  That, and their parents.  My parents were liberal, theirs conservative... you really do get a lot of this in your formative years.

    •  Where are the alternatives? (0+ / 0-)

      Having lived in and visited both big cities and smaller towns, the major difference that I see is political media.  When I lived in Seattle, I had at least three different, readily available choices for news that went deeper than the pathetic MSM.  Now that I live in Oklahoma, dKos is my only possible source; the local newspapers, even the "alternative" ones, are the same conservative crap.

      Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

      by tryptamine on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:33:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly, they're so kind and good (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bablhous, girlsanger

      and naive, yet they're hooked on hate radio and hate TV?  

      The midwest hasn't cornered any market on human decency and kindness.  It's bizarre to even propose such a concept, IMHO. People in NY and Arizona don't talk in grocery lines???????  WTH? Not in my experience.  

      There are nice, kind and decent folks everywhere.  

      Small varmints, if you will.

      by 2lucky on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:06:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But, understand.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        o the umanity

        Out here with a TV antenna what do you get? The three networks, PBS is spotty, and maybe one more. NO Air America stations cover IN, unless you can pick up a broadcast out of Chicago or Cincinnati. All the talk radio out here IS right wing, just different variants.

  •  yes we ARE all in this together (4+ / 0-)

    being swindled by the neocons who hate the rethugs as much as they do the dems. They are "above" party and will use anyone or anything to rig things their way.

    But the days of two reasonable parties, making sensable arguments on both sides is LONG over.

    If these good people in Indiana take voting seruiously , they need to also take the time to find out just who is on their side. Actions speak much louder that the swindling words of the right.

    The vice president is the single greatest threat to American and international security in the world today...Scott Ritter.

    by lisastar on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:03:49 AM PDT

  •  Discussion on "Indiana Week in Review" on PBS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BillyZoom

    Friday evening showed Indiana may be beginning to wake up. I was amazed the Republican spokesman on the panel acknowledged he considered Dan Burton's House seat to be vulnerable.  For the first time in numerous terms representing his deely red district, Burton is being challenged in the primary.  Other Republicans think Burton's poor voting record shows he's not listening to people in his district and he is living too high on our tax dollars.    

    Two other participants representing the Press were most amused that Burton's primary opponent attacked  Burton's fancy car as emblematic of his financial decadence and that Burton's engagement with his new wife and family seemed to keep him away from Washington, a lot.

    The Democratic representative on the panel discreetly didn't say much.  I think her thinking was "Let the Dems stand back and allow the Pugs 'eat thier own."

  •  It's not trust. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RKS, 2lucky, bablhous, planetclaire4

    If they are trusting and "naive" folks and take things at face value,
    why do they distrust democrats?  If they basically believe what they are told, why wouldn't more of them consider the policies of Democrats and not vote against their own self-interest. It makes no sense. They aren't trusting...their prejudices are given validation and encouragement by republicans. That's why they vote for them. It has nothing to do with trust. The only thing "naive" about these people is that they believe the republicans in power care about them.

    Better the occasional fault of a gov't that lives in a spirit of charity than one that remains frozen in the ice of its own indifference. FDR

    by scoutt on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:18:24 AM PDT

  •  I'm in Ohio (5+ / 0-)

    and you are spot-on.  My Mom, unfortunately, is one of those who has been swayed by Limbaugh.  She's finally started awakening a bit and actually listens to me a bit about issues where she before threw back right wing talking to me.  I even recently gave her my copy of Screwed by Thom Hartman and she said she would read it.  I think this is a good book to give the mislead because it explains a lot of the reasons we are where we are without being hugely partisan.

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

    by TracieLynn on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:19:33 AM PDT

  •  Grew up in a small town (4+ / 0-)

    I could breathe in that small town...
    I grew up in Indiana but Maher makes a great point about naive people.  When right leaning churches and political environments have been preaching either from the church or political pulpit that democrats/liberals just want to tax you to support a welfare state, abort babies, support gay marriage, and don't support the military for DECADES...people get brainwashed and end up just accepting it as truth.  
    If these people never move to other states and are never exposed to other viewpoints, never know why a woman chooses to have an abortion, never knows a gay person, never knew anyone who is a muslim and never fights in war alongside a soldier who was a democrat 'back in the states'.....a person becomes very naive about reality.  What happens to naive people is analogous to the good girl who happens to be attractive in H.S. who has a mad crush on the 'nice' quarterback of the football team.  The good girl has now gone 'bad' in a political sense but the quarterback so far is skating away from the abortion called Iraq.

    Peace is a good thing. War is the ultimate political failure.

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:20:14 AM PDT

  •  So that explains how the good Hoosiers (9+ / 0-)

    took the word of a U.S. Senator and war veteran and his crew and rejected out of hand the absurd claims of a bunch of venal self-promoters in the last election. Damn smart people!

    What? They didn't? But isn't your whole thesis that they are compelled by their good character despite themselves to trust those who have proven trustworthy and to smite the prevaricators?

    Sorry, folks. Common sense is just another word for too fucking lazy to think and too fucking scared to challenge nonsense if it might endanger your comfortable living.

    Hoosiers put their pants on the same way New Yorkers do.

    You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

    by Clem Yeobright on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:24:21 AM PDT

    •  I said the same thing above (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright

      Hey Clem,
      I had the same immediate reaction. Read my comment 4 blocks above titled, "It's not trust".
      scoutt

      Better the occasional fault of a gov't that lives in a spirit of charity than one that remains frozen in the ice of its own indifference. FDR

      by scoutt on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 08:27:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Study Hoosier election numbers and you will find (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, Clem Yeobright, Gorette

      in 06' there were much smaller margins of victory for Republican candidates.  2008 offers more time for Dem numbers to grow.  I point to the campaign Baryy Welsh ran againest Mike Pence for that House seat. (Indiana balance in now 4D-5R)  Welsh cut deeply into Republican numbers.  With the campaign Barry is running now and a little help from the national Democratic party, the shift for a majority of House of Representative seats can be Democratic. (Balance 5D-4R) Welsh is using the study showing Muncie, IN as one of the highest unemployment tows in America to indicate Pence is not protecting his own district.  I feel Barry Welsh deserves national support.  

    •  you said something important (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bablhous, Clem Yeobright

      "common sense is stoopit" , essentially. Carl Sagan had a great deal to say about that. Cosmos , and Our Demon Haunted World were two books in which the famous guy stated your point and continued on to demonstrate the likely validity of it. You might be famous too , I'm not - but if you can find time to read Sagan you will see there are at least three of us who think that a Medieval world view ain't the clearest.

      •  Demon Haunted World is sitting 6 ft from me (0+ / 0-)

        I pulled it out a few days ago intending to indulge myself in some Sagan for the long weekend, but then I got Tyson's Death By Black Hole and have gotten engrossed in it ...

        You kids behave or I'm turning this universe around RIGHT NOW! - god

        by Clem Yeobright on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:44:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Aaaaahhhhh!! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clem Yeobright

          I live mostly in my recliner these years , and have read out our small-town library ; even with the far beyond duty call excellence of the staff in finding stuff for me. Have been saved by the discounts and free shipping from BooksA-Million - and the home-made and good neighbor made bookcases in our house groan. Wish Mr. Sagan were still here to express his exuberance of thought.

  •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine

    what you said may be true to some extent:

    Those of us who are liberal tend not to understand where this is coming from because we don't listen to daytime radio or O'Reilly.  But at times we see the results of their work.

    However, I actually do listen to daytime AM conservative talk radio often ~ it's the only way to get the best weather and traffic reports (and that's about the only non-partisan news on these stations). I'm always interested in their talking points for the day.

    Maybe this is just a southern radio thing. But it's really hard to get in the car down here without accidentally listening to Sean, Rush or one of the other big-time conservative talk radio "stars" in my part of the country.

    We need the Fairness Doctrine.  Don't we?

  •  You are responsible for the consequences (3+ / 0-)

    of your acts. And you are responsible for determining what those consequences are. If you hire a contractor whom you know nothing about to put up a roof that later collapses because the materials are shoddy, your intentions won't save anyone. If you trust someone with your vote, twice, who takes your children and neighbors' children and sends them off to die in order to fuel his own popularity, your intentions are ultimately unimportant.

    Even Fox News doesn't present a view of the world where everyone is trustworthy (though of course, their idea of who cannot be trusted is different from ours). So I don't see how they can believe that Washington is "just like Indiana" in the first place.

  •  I have a problem with trashing centerist, without (5+ / 0-)

    recognizing political growth takes time.  The only was to make a change drawing voters from these  Republican strong holds is to get in the tangle of the race, bring issues that are relevant to the lives of the voters, and grow one voter at a time. Standing on the outside pointing to how naive the voter is will not change their vote.  

  •  I watched Bill Maher last night too (3+ / 0-)

    I think that they should not be asking people to be cynical--that is a bridge too far.  Cynicism basically means that you don't believe what people say and that they are doing so willfully to gain something (profit, votes, etc.).  Be a skeptic instead, with a "trust but verify" attitude and assign no motive to bad info until you see a pattern.  Like with the Bush Admin and MSM. :)  At this point, I don't believe what they say and only look at their actions instead.

    0047710420123535161533 1541012554254325504300
    (-4.88, -4.15)

    by DrSpalding on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:10:03 AM PDT

  •  growing up (14+ / 0-)

    I remember spending long, hot summer running through the sprinklers in my bare feet.  Sometimes my mom handed out popsicles to me and my friends, and sometimes it was my friends mom handing out cookies.  

    My next door neighbor was a fireman, and he helped me break into my house a number of times when I'd lost or fogotten my key.  We had big block parties on the 4th of July, and all the neighborhood men banded together to build magnificent structures to house a long and varied firework display.  

    My next door neighbor taught me to skateboard, and I taught my best friend to roller skate.  When the hillside next to her house caught fire, every man on my street grabbed a shovel and a bucket and they got that fire out before it hit the houses.  

    When I got older and lived on my own, I lived in an apartment.  There were a lot of us singles there, and we all sort of banded together.  I would cook up a big pot of soup, or roast a chicken, and someone else would make a salad and someone would produce a six-pack and we'd sit out on the patio and just chit chat about nothing.  When I was very, very ill, my neighbors cared for me.  They brought me soup and 7-up, and they washed my dishes because I was too sick to get out of bed.  

    My favorite part of my week though is the farmer's market in the city square.  That's where I run into friends and neighbors, and we all stop and get to talking about the best way to skin a beet and Carrie's new baby and if you want peaches, get them at the fourth stall down - they're the best this year.  

    I talk to people in line at the grocery store.  In line at the bus stop.  sitting on the train.  We pass the time with small talk that doesn't mean much except maybe the recognition that we're all people, and we're all right here, right now, and a little decency never hurt anyone.  

    I grew up in los angeles and now I live in the bay area.  

    community is where you make it.  

    Blue House Diaries...because there's more to life than politics.

    by lapolitichick on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:12:10 AM PDT

    •  Excellent..... (4+ / 0-)

      I posted a similar thing above..."Devil's Advocate."

      I think there is this notion, this myth that somehow "real" America, friendly America can only exist in the  "heartland."  As I said in my post, I sort of resent even that "word".  It implies that somehow the MOST important part of America is located in the midwest, in small town America.  What they don't say is that those same towns are homogeneous reflections of a lot of closed mindedness. In my experiences, that neighborly feeling was not extended to people of color, to people of religions that were not protestant Christian.

      "Home is where the heart is..." so the heartland for many of us was in neighborhoods in the city.  They were friendly, they were open, and they were fun.

      Like many in my age group, I would watch television portray the perfect family, the perfect life as something I did not recognize.  From Mayberry to Father Knows Best, I wondered what it would be like to be in small town perfection.  When I grew up and moved to a western community, I was looking for Little Joe and Hoss who would stand up for those who were different.  But that was not the reality I found.

      I found a world where people of color, where gay people were not welcomed.  My cousin and her partner live in a row home in Philly.  Their neighbors embrace and care about them, and even trust them to babysit.  I cannot see that happening in small town America even now.  I had come of age in the 60s and when I moved here in the 70s I found most of my peers age wise viewed things so differently.  While I was involved in anti-war stuff, they were put off by long haired hippes who were anti-American.  But after learning reality (like I had so many more friends, relatives and neighbors who fought in Vietnam), they were content to wave the flag.

      My neighborhood was one of row homes and working mothers; where the one mom who was laid off kept a lookout for the rest of us.  I remember coming home from school, knocking on my neighbor door to let her know I was home and then going inside to do homework and wait for my parents to get home.  My mother did the same for their kids.  

      My friends  (from rural America where I went to college) identified with Mayberry and Father Knows best.  I identified with the Little Rascals.

      But I do find myself resenting the notion that one has to be from rural American to be friendly and caring. It's just not true.

      •  i lived in a small town (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, bablhous

        in oregon once.  it was a hard place to break into - outsiders were not terribly welcome and the cashier who was friendly to the person ahead of me was considerably less so when it was my turn.  After about a year people began to warm some, but by that time, I was headed back to california.  

        i get frustrated by the idea that the cities are cold and sterile places.  it is what you make it.  

        Blue House Diaries...because there's more to life than politics.

        by lapolitichick on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:47:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree, somewhat. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        feduphoosier

        I felt the greatest sense of community when I lived in the middle of a city.  I've lived in small towns, too, and hated the way that most people were so judgmental.  But I did manage to find the few people in those small towns who weren't like that, people like myself who weren't afraid of or disdainful of the wider world.  

        Some of those people were only on living in their small town temporarily, like me, but there were also some who didn't want to move away.  They were accepted in their town as being different than everyone else.

        One friend of mine who lives in rural Oklahoma said to me recently that she liked being the "weirdest person in town" and seeing all the other freaks who come out of the woodwork in response to that.  I also believe that, along with economic opportunities, that is something that small towns have lost in the last century; I think they used to be a lot more diverse, at least in class if not in race or sexual orientation or that kind of thing.  (But I have only been an adult for less than a decade so older people may see this differently...)

        Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

        by tryptamine on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:24:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well coming from someone so young (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tryptamine, protectspice

          your openness to other points of view is refreshing.

          Unfortunately the small town America of people's memories did not really exist except for a very few.
          When one is exclusive I supposed friendliness and trust are easier.
          Oh yea, there were pockets of towns where the "good Christian" people reached out to those that were different and there were wonderful individuals in every town that saw reality. And I hope there always existed and will always exist those who went against the grain as in "To Kill a Mockingbird" or in "It's a Wonderful Life."

          When I was ten, my Dad and I drove to North Carolina to visit and Aunt and Uncle stationed at Camp LeJeune. On the way, for the first time in my young life, I saw segregation.  I never saw that watching shows depicting life in small town America.  My dad had to explain to me what a "colored" bathroom meant.  While my ethnic neighborhood had definitive boundaries in housing, we all (Blacks, whites, Italians, Polish, Irish) came together at the public school, at the community center, at the playgrounds. We used the same bathrooms and water fountains and ate at the same diners.  So separate stuff was a shock.

          When I was seventeen we were driving west.  We were caught in a rainstorm in OK, a driving rain so hard we had to pull off onto a parking lot of a restaurant in a small town on old Rt. 66.  I had been driving to let my dad sleep a little in the back.  As we sat there in the rain, all of a sudden this man comes out and he had a gun.  In fear I woke my dad and he sat up as the man approached the car. I opened the window so my dad could talk, and when I did, the man said, "Oh, it's OK folks, you're OK....it was them, I don't want none of them here..." and he walked away. I looked over and saw a black family pulling out.  It was 1966.  
          After he left, my dad said, "Start the car...let's get out of here...and I drove (slowly) in the rain."
          I couldn't imagine that happening in Mayberry.....

          Anyway, the older I got and the more I started going to small towns on my travels, the more I realized the myth.  

          I wish it had changed but think about the town of JENA in Louisiana.  Where's the outrage?
          I wish small towns like the ones in our collective memories did exist.  I am not convinced they ever did.

          •  I was raised in a mixed neighborhood in NYC. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tryptamine

            We are Irish, the neighbors to the left were middle-European Jews, the ones across the street were Irish, the ones to the right were Cuban, the ones next to them Scots and the man across the street from them was from some unpronounceable place in Russia. The barber was Italian, the grocer was Greek and the owner of the bar was, what else? an Irishman.

            I married a GI who was Native American. We were driving to Texas on our honeymoon (so I could meet the 'folks') and stopped at a small diner in Tennessee. My husband was reluctant for some reason but I was starving and I insisted.

            We went in and sat down and we were INVISIBLE. Nobody 'saw' us. Nobody waited on us. I asked for service. No one acknowledged me. I couldn't believe what was happening. I just couldn't get my head round it. As we eventually left, they laughed at us. It was 1959. That was my first taste of life in the real hinterland of America.

            It was a shock. I'd never experienced that kind of behavior before.

            We had a lot to talk about for the rest of our trip.

            When we were hungry, we would pull up and park where the interior of the car was not visible. I would go inside and buy takeout. I was learning about real America what my husband and his family had always known.

            It is still a bitter lesson.

            "Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner" -- James Bovard

            by bablhous on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 03:31:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Another though (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk

    The problem in chasing predators is it's endless task. Educating consumers has the capacity to withstand the next scam. We'll never run out or scammers. Some regulations can address the most obvious scams:

    An envelope arrived featuring an illustration of a boxy black Lab standing midstream, probably waiting to retrieve a duck. This caught my daughter's eye. She has a yellow female puppy.

    Then she saw that the letter was addressed to her. Inside was an offer from the only club of which she is a member, the American Kennel Club. AKC would send a gift imprinted with ``a beautiful full-color photo representing the breed you've come to love so much.'' Her dog's own name would be stamped on the gift, because ``your dog is special.''

    Except this wasn't a gift. It was a solicitation for a Platinum Visa credit card. The approach was so innovative that I started a little conversation in my mind with Dennis B. Sprung, the AKC president. But before the Dennis in my head even began to defend himself, my daughter had it figured out. She didn't even have to read that fine print on another page about being 18 or older to qualify. She handed the dog-decorated paper right back, summing up: ``This is not for me. I'm 10.''

    The Labrador Visa captures the issues in a larger debate. People are asking whether citizens, whatever their age, are able to judge when to borrow, and when to say no to the Labrador. Everyone is wondering whether lenders who lure vulnerable citizens are responsible for the subprime troubles.

    Teaching 10 year olds is not only the best long term strategy, it's the only one that has the agility to meet future, innovative threats.

    Still uncommitted, undecided...enjoying the dates; not ready for the ring or uhaul.

    by kck on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:15:44 AM PDT

  •  Couple of really important points here (10+ / 0-)

    Limbaugh, Savage-Weiner and O'Reilly appeal to people who are willing to be led, people who are weak and have no sense of themselves.

    That accounts only for a small percentage of small town conservatives.

    It's this mantra I keep blasting out, sorry if y'all have heard it before, but progressive and conservative values are not all that different.

    I believe strongly in the conservation of common English law which has served western civilization for a 1000 years, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights: and while I may argue with some aspects of it, even the established stare decisis of American jurisprudence built up over the last 225 years.

    We share a common heritage of these laws and structure, and it's being torn apart and destroyed in front of our eyes. Yes, the freedom of the individual is respected by honest conservatives as well as progressives. The difference is establishing the baseline of who qualifies. One on one, you will find thinking conservatives, not the morons that listen to Limbaugh et al will side a lot more with freedom of the individual.

    I've seen it, I've heard it.  

    This country was headed after Nixon into a time of reconciliation, and it was short circuited by the Reagan administration. The smoke and mirrors used to foster the 'morning in America', laden with blatant criminal activity, propping up of banks, busting of unions, heinous war crimes in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua is a tough sell to these conservatives, because they felt good.  

    Conservatives like you speak of, decent people don't  feel good. The 'malaise' that Carter that liberals and moderates suffered in 1980 is 500 times worse with the Shrub.

    Underneath Limbaugh and O'Reilly there's no base, it's a bunch of blithering idiot yahoos, people that hate, that write letters like Markos posted on the FP a little while ago. That's not your neighbors.

    We need to reach out to these people, respect where they are coming from. I have, and in all the cases I have I have been amazed at the response I am getting.

    Really important diary. Mellencamp's observations, and the one's you make here may not work exactly the same way everywhere, but the basic decency of people is the same. This idea is bigger than just Indiana.

    It's Everywhere. Everywhere on the planet.

    It works in Orem, Utah. It works in it's own way in  Esfahan, Iran, too.

    Really important diary.

    socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

    by shpilk on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:19:55 AM PDT

  •  Loved your diary. Some great points made about (0+ / 0-)

    trust, Christianity and life.

    A pleaseure to read your excellent writing too. You ought to make this a habit on Saturdays!

    Bush's Plan B for Iraq is to keep doing Plan A but more victoriously- Bill of Portland

    by Gorette on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:35:41 AM PDT

  •  I had another thought (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine

    What type of button would trigger people to start talking to you? Certainly 'ITMFA', but that might be a bit much.

    'Enough' sounds about right, doesn't it?

    We should all be wearing what Wes Clark Jr has been pushing, those 'enough' T-Shirts and buttons. It doesn't take much imagination to figure where we'd becoming from, and the conversations might get interesting.

    I have a 'Had Enough, Vote Democratic' bumpersticker on my car. I'm going to make a button, too.

    socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

    by shpilk on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:36:47 AM PDT

  •  Beautiful portrait of the people of Indiana (4+ / 0-)

    ... and the basis for their politics. Thanks for this.

    I took the opposite view, I grew up in rural Western New York which is more like the Midwest than it is like the East Coast and I moved at 18 to NYC and never left. And I never will.

    I am a cynical New Yorker. I admit it.

    But there's a funny thing about cynicism: it usually is just a cloak worn in public by a wounded idealist.

    And don't be fooled by New Yorkers. Those of us who have stayed around long enough to become "real New Yorkers" care very deeply about our neighbors, our neighborhoods, our crazy city, our once great country (that we believe can be great again if we can get rid of divisive Rovian politics), and our precarious world.

    "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

    by Glinda on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:46:59 AM PDT

    •  BTW (3+ / 0-)

      I always talk to people in grocery store lines. Sometimes I get the shocked looks too. (Secretly I love those looks.) But pretty damned often I strike up an impromptu conversation with a perfect stranger who I'll never see again.

      "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

      by Glinda on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 09:53:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, I experienced that in NY (0+ / 0-)

      One day I was riding the bus and someone snatched a woman's purse and hopped off the bus.  The bus driver leapt off the bus after him, tackled him on the sidewalk, and got the purse back.  My jaw dropped.

      Now that is taking care of your fellow citizens!

      My biggest problem in NYC was that I just acted too much like a Midwesterner and they had me pegged.  The people I worked with just teased me mercilously but goodnaturedly, but on the streets I had to watch it because I tended to look like a target.  I learned to keep my eyes down and keep 'in my space.'  But I have a LOT of family in New York, so I'm there all the time.  Great city.

  •  Interesting essay. My take is a little contrary. (5+ / 0-)

    1.)  You romanticize a place but it (IMO) was just the times.  I grew up in Hawaii and it was the same way only more exotic.  No locks ever on the doors.  We had houses that we did not know where the keys were.  Part of what you remember is generic to the time not the place.  We all lock our doors in Hawaii nowadays.

    2.)  I've interviewed Germans who lived in Germany during WW2 and to a person they swore that they did not know about the camps and the ovens.  They were "good people" "good neighbors" and since they would never do anything like the death camps themselves, they were sure other Germans would not either.  

    3.)  The same places the KKK has flourished (the South and Midwest) these places that are portrayed as bucolic and benign, neighbor helping neighbor, these places harbor deep racism.  I wonder if the Black folks in Indiana feel the same way as you?  I wonder if the Indians in Indiana feel the same way?

    4.)  I feel like your impressions of your neighbors is too forgiving.  Rosey colored thinking.  You can characterize ignorance and bigotry as naive goodwill as much as you like it is still ignorance and bigotry. That kind of "naiveté'" (voting for war mongering fellows like the Republican boys) just puts Indiana and the rest of the country in danger.

    5.)  Also, in case you didn't notice, John Cougar Mellencamp (Ask him about racial prejudice) is not particularly bright.  He is a great singer and performer though.

    •  You're making it (4+ / 0-)

      too black and white.  Humans are not that simple.  The diarist's world and your estimation can, and often do, coexist in the same people.  The trick is to pull out the best in people, rather than the worst.

      Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

      by tryptamine on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:11:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  to the contrary ... (0+ / 0-)

        Humans are simple.  Just as every cell in their body and just as the particular culture they come from have (has) a biological imperative.  Survival.  All their actions are predicated first on that imperative.  

        Sometimes ignorance and bigotry are survival mechanisms.

        •  Absolutely not true. (2+ / 0-)

          Culture is a huge deal, and often works against those very survival instincts.  If a Hindu's only food source was a cow and he refused to eat it, he would die because his culture overrode his survival instincts.  You simply cannot separate humans from the society they live in, without being dishonest or missing a huge chunk of the picture.

          Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

          by tryptamine on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:39:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  recent biological theory postulates (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bablhous, mediaprisoner

            that all organisms from the cell up to the society act in the same way (are directed by the same instinctual processes.) despite appearances to the contrary.

            The Hindu predicates his physical survival on a spiritual survival as part of the group, just a group of cells cooperate to isolate bacteria.  Many cells die to form a scab.  Suicide to foster group survival.  

            What I am saying does not "separate humans from their environment," but it does go a long way toward explaining their interaction with that environment.  Humans sometimes react inappropriately to stimuli, but don't mistake that reaction for the stimuli.

            Later today I'll get you some references from biologists involved in research into the process of how and why biological organisms interact.  

      •  But don't you think (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, bablhous, mediaprisoner

        that those who see that community, that heartland, through their rose colored glasses, are ignoring the truths, and allowing the ignorance to be painted as something to strive for????

        I understand all of us as humans tend to romanticize many things.  We all want the world of Mayberry, and America and Apple Pie to be real.  As well I understand that many of us want to forget reality and bathe in the luxury of idealism and nostalgia.

        But unfortunately, the right has taken that meme for years and used it against many and has hurt people, all kinds of people.  Reagan's "rah-rah America", morning in America was in direct contradiction to the real America. And it worked for too many.

        How many union people became Reagan democrats because they believed this man when he promised to get them back to this idealized American that never existed for most people.  The Irish who has a history of NINA, the Italians who had a history of being called "dirty little foreigners" were voting for a man because they believed in an American that never existed for any of them, in fact did not exist for the majority of people.

        Prejudice, bigotry, discriminations and UNFAIR labor practices existed for the much of this country's history.  And the very people who were beginning to change it, the people like my Dad who grew up loving FDR and getting the benefits of his liberal policies, were suddenly frightened by the same change happening for others (blacks, latinos, haitians, Muslims, Jews). They feared people like Che Guivera, Malcom X and others.  Yet they knew that their own (like Sacco and Venzetti) were victims of the same thing. Still Reagan won them over.  To this day, the term "Reagan democrats" appalls me.  Too many of the same people who loved FDR  loved the man whose policies were the start of undoing the New Deal.

        The diarist world exists in a vacuum.  It existed only for a certain group of people.  But unfortunately the myth of that world has been played so much that even the people who never fit in, were never accepted in that world, believe it existed and are fighting to get it back.  How do you get back what never really was?

        •  Yes and no. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mediaprisoner

          I don't think the diarist's world exists in a vacuum.  There are two things that make me think this: 1) It is very, very difficult to write the full complexity of even a small slice of one's existence, especially within the limits of a diary, and the only person on this whole site that I know of who could do it effectively would be Hunter, and 2) This diary seemed defensive, in the sense that there are so many people here at dKos who insist on only talking about the bad things about those who live in the reddest states.  When a person is trying to counter an already heavily-slanted view, they tend to want to pull just as hard in the opposite direction, and I don't think they necessarily have a responsibility to soften that at all; if you're in a tug of war, even the slightest neutrality will mean you lose.  

          On the other hand, yes, I do agree with the rest of what you've said.  What I think we can do about "recreating" that world that never truly existed for everyone is to bring as many of the people who were excluded into it as possible.  In the end, it may not be possible to achieve a Mayberry with blacks, gays, Muslims, women, etc. all being as equally accepted as the white, hetero Christian males, but that can be re-evaluated when we are actually close to such a goal.  It's better to go forward than to not go anywhere at all.

          Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

          by tryptamine on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:56:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, I see what you mean (4+ / 0-)

            about the defensiveness of the diary.

            At the same time, I think many of us from the city, who were excluded from the "heartland" have been for years hearing the meme that in the heartland resided the good and in the cities resided all the evil.

            There is this sentimentality about middle America that sometimes really disturbs me.  Just as the false generalizations about certain ethnic groups disturbs me.

            When I would hear people from some of these small town perfections speaking of "they" when referring to (blacks, Muslims, ethnic groups of any kind in the 1950s and 1960s) with their views accumulated from television and knowing they had rarely, if ever, even met in person anyone from those groups, I would just shake my head.  
            People who never even met a muslim, assumed the worst and this was back in the 60s.  I read The Autobiography of Malcom X and some of my friends thought I went off the deep for even reading it.

            I certainly believe in going forward and I think most people here want that.  I think, however, there is a level of frustration that shows itself here.  Perhaps this is the only place some feel safe to expound on those frustrations.

            •  I understand. (0+ / 0-)

              I'm from the North myself, and my favorite place I've lived was in the most dense part of a city.  But unfortunately, those assumptions go both ways, with the city people acting like rural people are stupid and backward while rural people act like city people are elitist snobs.  Neither is entirely true, but both groups are frustrated by the unfair generalizations and stereotypes.  

              Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

              by tryptamine on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:34:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  i'm almost positive it's possible (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tryptamine

            to have the multi-cultured mayberry.  maybe all the religious institutions can go in the outlying surrounding areas and only the CBD will be in city limits... ;)

            eventually, what's right becomes popular

            by mediaprisoner on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:55:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I mentioned the same thing in a (6+ / 0-)

      a few responses here.

      While I do not doubt the diarist's sincerity, she reminds me of many of my friends who grew up in rural PA.  They wax nostalgic for a time and place that was great if one happened to be white, anglo, prostestant.

      Many of my friends came to college having never encountered any people of color or people of other ethnic groups.

      As a first generation of Italian American, I had my own set of prejudices, I  am sure.  But I always found it odd that (some of) these people were perfectly comfortable telling me "Italian" jokes, referring to Mafia as if I knew criminals intimately.  I quietly resented the jokes but was too afraid when I was young to protest.  Finally, as I grew in confidence, I asked a friend who used the word "WOP" to me often, if he had any idea what it meant.  He didn't.

      Sometimes ignorance or naivety hurts others.  I am sure the diarists remembers a time of trust and friendliness that was real to her.  But I wonder if that trust and friendliness was/is extended outside those who fit the image of the heartland.

      My friends (*and after 40 years we are still close) were/are good people.  But they admit themselves, they never were challenged about those heartland values until we all became friends and we matured.
      Some of them now actually make fun of the myth of "small town perfection" which is where most had ended up.   Some still believe in this myth.....and still describe people as "Christian" when they want you to know that they are trustworthy and friendly and good.

      Interesting at any rate...

      •  along these lines (0+ / 0-)

        when i read this diary and other similar ones out there, it seems like lots of people are seeking comfort in familiarity.  it's totally understandable, but i too wonder if this friendliness extends to people perceived as outsiders.  i don't think it necessarily has to do with race, but in small communities, they have a pretty good sense of their own kind.

        eventually, what's right becomes popular

        by mediaprisoner on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:52:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, maybe now race is not (0+ / 0-)

          the defining issue, but it surely was in the years when I was coming of age.

          But I think the "sense of their own kind" speaks volumes.  In a sense we are all that way, and it is a way of self preservation and protection from preconceived stereotypes.

          One of my friends told me that she and her Baptist friends were afraid of nuns (well I was too but I went to catholic schools and had reality based reasons). She grew up (in the 1950s) and believed that in Catholic churches they sacrificed babies so they could drink their blood.  
          Her predominantly white anglo protestant neighborhood was very different from mine. I knew that protestants were different.  But I did not think they were evil, just unlucky not to be catholic (as the nuns taught us) and have the one true faith.  The difference is that I outgrew those myths taught to me as a child.  My friend still longs for that life of the 1950s where, she thought, everything was perfect.  

          She lived in the movie Pleasantville I think, and the invasions of color (and different peoples) was not a comfortable thing for her and her family.

          •  I think the new measure is religio/political. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mediaprisoner

            When I was decrying the catastrophe of NOLA while it was going on, my officemate said something about both of us believing in the same things as bush the lesser and that's why we must support everything he does, regardless.

            When I turned to her in amazement, I asked her why in the world she throught that I believed in the same things as bush, she said, 'Why, we're all Christians' in this really surprised tone.

            The moment I informed her that I was not, in any way, a Christian, our relationship changed profoundly.

            She was exquisitely polite but never again warm for the rest of the time I worked there.

            She's a good Christian woman from Utah.

            "Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner" -- James Bovard

            by bablhous on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 03:48:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I actually live here now (0+ / 0-)

      Have been back in Indiana since 2003.  Experience it every day.  I was raised to be tolerant... and that includes conservatives; people who may be smarter than I am or not as smart; people who agree with me, or don't; people who like me, or don't, and people who don't believe that I know what I'm talking about even if I can walk out my door and experience it at the grocery store in 15 minutes when I get into town.  

      So no rose colored glasses.  I grew up here, moved away and moved back because on many visits back to see family, I found I had really missed this.  I know about the Klan, I know the problems in this state because I deal with them as well.  But I look for the best in people, and most of my experiences here have been great.  And yes, people are that friendly.  

      The diary was meant to be an insight into how good people can be closed to some ideas; perhaps how they may have become that way, although I don't know for sure (of course.)  I mentioned that I suspected it came out of the strict and very authoritarian conservative religion in many churches here.  I wouldn't want Hoosiers to stop being open and friendly, because that is one of their best traits.  And one month ago when I was in an auto accident, people came out of the woodwork to help me out, including the people at the auto body shop who had never met me.

      I really don't get #5 at all.  First of all, I wasn't aware the intelligence had any bearing on the ability to judge a person's nature.  Perhaps there are many kinds of intelligence.

      •  # 5? A bitchy comment to be sure, (0+ / 0-)

        Somehow I have a bee in my bonnet this Saturday morning, I've got to go do my treadmill.  

        But what I meant was that just because he has a great singing voice doesn't guarantee his political voice is as true.

      •  I'm sort of stunned that you seem to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bablhous

        think that people helping others is an Indiana thing.  

        I saw a car accident in Long Beach, CA, and a bunch of us got out to help.  

        I invited my single, eldery neighbor to Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner.  He was obviously uncomfortable (shy), so we brought dinner to him.  He twice shovelled my driveway when it snowed like crazy.  He didn't say anything, I just came out and it was done.

        The lady down the street knew I had cats and brought me catnip.  The guy across the street came over to warn me to keep my cats in because there was a fox spotted in the neighborhood.

        We have an annual neighborhood block party.  The neighbors sent out an e-mail to alert us all when one of those fliers left on our doors was a scam.

        We had a major snowstorm, and I helped shovelled out a bunch of cars stuck outside my house.  One young gal called her parents and when we got her car out of the drift, there were hugs all around.  

        My former handyman is now a dear friend.  He cleaned my house and brought me soup when I was sick.  

        There are nice, kind open people everywhere.    

        Small varmints, if you will.

        by 2lucky on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 12:06:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wasn't my intention (0+ / 0-)

          Was just describing my own experiences and those of my husband, but absolutely, there are wonderful people everywhere.  I suppose I brought it up to explain the sense of community and how knowing and living with really nice people who voted for Bush - all around me - is just as confusing to me as it apparently is to John Mellencamp.  The winds are changing though.  Anyway, didn't mean to diss any other place.  My experiences in those other cities were more that I stood out for yapping in the shopping line; wasn't a reflection on anyone else.  

  •  The more I read and reread this diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bablhous, mediaprisoner, feduphoosier

    and, to be clear, I do not doubt the sincerity and honesty of the author, I need to ask these questions.

    Do or did those qualities you describe, honesty, trust, and openness to others, extend to people of color?  To people who were not Christian?  To people who were different on their sexual preferences?

    I don't know your age, but when I moved away from the big city (Philly) to the small town in CO, I did not find the small town wonderfulness. Sadly what I found more often than not was small mindedness.

    I found myself smack in the middle of an all white, all Christian community where "white bread" was the metaphorical staple.
    I did move into the nearest city (a bigger version of the small town), and found it had some color, some openness.  But it was slow to catch up.  Still is.  My somewhat liberal democratic neighbor who grew up in small town Nebraska is afraid if Obama gets elected, he will put all blacks on his cabinet and that worries her.  

    If the litmus test for being an American resides in communities where doors do not lock, then no I did not grown up there.  But I grew up where people of color, people of different ethnicities, people of different religions lived in a community.
    While your diary speaks beautifully of these people in rural America, are not a few facts being ignored?
    Were people of color welcomed in the churches?  Many of my friends who grew up in small town perfection in rural America had never seen a negro in person until college?  In fact I was the first catholic many of them actually knew.  

    I remember when the race riots were starting, when protests in the south were happening, I was shocked to hear that black people were not allowed in some churches.  THAT BLEW ME AWAY.  These wonderful rural communities portrayed on the television in reality were disallowing blacks to attend their schools and their churches.

    One of my favorite movies was "Remember the Titans."  That was small town American was it not?  Change did happen but it was not as easy or as fast as the movie showed.  I wish it were.
    I cannot imagine some of the towns in the heartland easily allowing a group of Muslims to integrate with open arms, any more than blacks were welcomed.

    Anyway, just wondering if these people who trust their neighbors really  are as trusting as you say.

    •  Where I grew up, yes (4+ / 0-)

      Because I was fortunate to grow up in Bloomington, which is a college town.  Probably because of the music school (and perhaps the law school) we attracted faculty and students from around the world, so I grew up with mixed classes - even in elementary school.  I was exposed to many races and cultures.  And due to the very liberal climate, race was for me never an issue.  

      One of my best friends in college was African American but I never really thought about it, I mean he was just himself.  The only time it really became a topic of conversation with us was when we went north to do concerts, because it was a little Klannish up there.  Also had lots of college friends who were gay; a number have since died of Aids.  :(  

      At IU - and maybe in a lot of college towns - things are a little different than other towns or cities.

      There are pockets of Klan mentality in Indiana for sure.  And I knew about them as a child, because they weren't too far north of us.  And was afraid of them, because of course the Civil Rights movement was very much in the news and my parents were involved to some degree. I saw what was going on in the south and connected it with the sheets up north.  That's what I was referring to with my comment about the 'sheets' as I called them.

      I grew up during the 60s, much of the time on campus, so it was... different.  Hippies, demonstrations, and lots of excitement.  In my neighborhood we were sort of mixed -- professors kids mostly.  There was almost no crime, ever, in Bloomington.  I don't remember anything, ever.  No theft even.  And yes, everyone would smile and wave on the street, talk in grocery stores... but that is the same around the state, from my experience.  Certainly is in Indy.

      At school, it was a mix, and actually I was picked on quite often by the wealthy kids; doctor and lawyer spawn, who lived in that school district.  Probably Republican, maybe 'early neocon.'  They were the bullies in our class -- but equal opportunity bullies.  They picked on anyone who didn't have money.  There were kids from the farms, wealthy kids and college brats.

      I'd have to say that Bloomington was probably quite different than many smaller areas simply because we did have people from all over the world living there.

      Nowadays it appears that people in outlying areas are more mixed together; more of a mix of liberal and conservative.  There are other liberal pockets all around Bloomington, and Indy, Ft. Wayne, South Bend... I'll need help from other Hoosiers in identifying other spots, but the state is getting more and more purple all the time. But we still have Klan pockets too.

      •  Well, to me at least, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        feduphoosier

        that explains a lot.  A small college town, I would think, would be very different from what most people think of as the "heartland."

        In reality, if you live in a city, near the college (as I do), you have that same kind of community.  There are many ethnic groups living near and around the college, many cultural events.  

        I have a friend (actually a former boyfriend) who grew up in rural Indiana on a farm. His youth sounds as different from your experiences as it was from mine.
        While in our younger years, it seemed he was opening up more, now he is back to his roots...evangelical, white Christian. While our break-up was hard in the beginning, now when I see him years later, I realize we would not have lasted very long.

    •  An interesting person to ask would be (0+ / 0-)

      John Mellencamp himself, because he grew up in Seymour, which is similar in many ways only without the university.

      I can't tell you what it is like to live here as an African American, because I'm not... and alas my buddy from college died (right after Katrina and very suddenly... horrible year.  I went to his funeral the day after I got back from Louisiana.)  Was everyone friendly to him everywhere he went?  I don't know... but I also know from living in cities, that this is a problem in Arizona, Chicago, New York City and LA.  Race is an issue in this country.

      I'm actually not waxing nostalgic either; I live here now.  I came back for this, and experience it every day.  The repair guy who was here a few weeks ago was the perfect example.  Had the twang, very very friendly, talked my ear off and probably was late to his next appointment.  When I go to the farmers market, same thing.  Farmers are all very friendly.  People here like to talk.  That is what I was referring to.  And they are open and friendly by nature.  It was, frankly, a shock to my husband when we moved to Indy.  He couldn't BELIEVE how friendly people are here, total strangers striking up conversations in stores like they've known you their entire lives.  Its not nostalgia.  Its Indiana.

      •  I am glad that is true for you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bablhous

        But honestly, I go back to Philly quite often and I find the people there within neighborhoods to be just as friendly and as open as you describe.  I guess my point is that neighborhoods in cities can be as friendly (in my view) as your experience in Indiana.

        Like I said, I resent the notion that one has to be from the heartland to be friendly. My aunts would tell anyone their entire life story on a bus to and from somewhere.

        I do however agree that there are pockets of racism everywhere, cities, suburbs etc.  My experience is that the less educated and experienced with people of other cultures, the more prejudice can grow and flourish.

        As cities were abandoned by corporate America, and people fled to the burbs for jobs and the house with a lawn, the more neighborhoods became crime ridden, mistrustful and dangerous.  

        I am sure you don't mean it this way, but it sounds like you are saying that being born in Indiana makes one more friendly, more trustworthy by nature. I simply will not buy that as a fair judgment.

    •  where I grew up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries

      in Sioux Falls, SD ... NO.  I posted that I understood the diarist elsewhere, but when I grew up, we had only three African American kids in our entire highschool of around 1,200.

      There were a lot of jokes that were not meant as insulting or bigoted, I want to say mean-spirited, but the ignorance of all of us (yea, I will admit it too) as to the silent wounding of these kids is immeasurable.

      The Lakota kids had it worse and were some of the best highschool fighter because they had to be.  I am glad that my liberal mom had our Lakota neighbors over for dinner and socializing, one of whom was a spiritual bag-man, who educated me and enthralled me with native American culture.

      Our token gay kid, the sheriffs son nonetheless, had it even worse and I had heard through the grapevine that he contracted and died of AIDS in the eighties in Minneapolis, though I am not certain.

      So, being honest, no, where I grew up was prejudice, most of it due to simple ignorance and insensitivity but the other malicious.  So I eventually came to terms that my childhood sins and cruelty will be settled between me and my maker.

      "Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the bastard is dead, the bitch that bore him is again in heat." -Bertolt Brecht

      by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:14:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What you and he describe (5+ / 0-)

    is the social contract that most humans abide by, that the person they are speaking with is telling the truth, that he/she will keep his/her word. It is a sad commentary on modern life that we in the U.S. especially have had our ideals and our role models thwarted by the sick models of advertising and PR. That our children model themselves around false idols, instead of salt-of-the-earth examples.

    A sad commentary that we on the left have had to become so cynical and distrusting in order to eclipse the spin cycle and stay on top of the truth.

    The whole story reveals why so many have been in denial about the evil schemes and lies that have been inflicted on us as a people.

  •  How Facile, Mr. Melancamp (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheJohnny

    to excuse blind bigotry, intolerance, and stubborn stupidity as naïveté.

    They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

    by Limelite on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 10:21:35 AM PDT

  •  People standing in line in California (5+ / 0-)
    talk to each other if they're not on their cell phones.
    •  Talking to others is a midwestern thing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      feduphoosier

      I'm form Michigan. My daughter spent 8 months in Portland, OR a few years ago. She told me that it was seen as tad bit odd that she would do this. Then she noticed that each and every time she saw or met someone who struck up a conversation in a line or in public, they were from the Midwest.  

      That may be why I feel so at home in Wisconsin.

  •  and that's why-- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    you guessed it, John Mellencamp, and his neighbors, will vote Democratic ONLY when we offer them someone they "get,"--and that person, among the entire field, is John Edwards.  Let's start talking about class bias AGAINST Edwards, and against the people he comes from and speaks FOR.

  •  Electoral College (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, feduphoosier

    Dionne had a good piece about bypassing the electoral college system of elections.

    The biggest argument against the electoral college is directly related to this issue.  We don't think it's fair to have our votes overshadowed by those who are easily swindled..and know it.  Once we have a super-majority, this issue should come up before the Congress.

    I hope you're right that people in the "naive" parts of the country are waking up.  Because a group of people who don't learn from mistakes can be frustrating.

  •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, feduphoosier

    I appreciate your diary and your description of Hoosier's.  I'm a displaced hoosier, had not caught on that my early life in small town Indiana was the reason I don't fit in, get lousy reactions to my naturally friendly behaviors.

    Knew my relatives in Indiana are the the salt of the earth, but have not spent enough time there to have realized the connection between that and being so taken in politically.

    I cannot thank you enough for writing this.

  •  GOP=The cynical leading the gullible. n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Enlightenment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2lucky, feduphoosier, protectspice

    When you talk of going barefoot and sharing vegetables, I go back to a semi-rural area south of Pittsburgh and remember that kind of well-being.  Living in Arizona now, I sometimes get nostalgic for that kind of comfort.

    But that was the pre-Limbaugh days when people were civil to each other. When I visit there, I cannot bear the mean comments that have become part of everyday conversation.  The simple act of someone sharing a tomato with me might include a comment like "ya know, if you liberals would stop this environmental crap, I would be able to kill the bugs in my garden".

    I hope that you are correct:

    Beware their wrath as they learn the truth.

    Because we need them in the struggle to get our government back.

    Investigate! Impeach! Indict! Incarcerate!

    by Cato come back on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:24:25 AM PDT

  •  a different view (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2lucky, bablhous, girlsanger

    Sorry, but I watched that spot and I thought Mellencamp was full of it.

    The politics sold to the people 'Indiana' was not idealism lapped up by naive people.  The sales pitch for the Conservative revolution was that all liberals are out to get you, that government is always bad--pure cynicism.  So for Mellencamp's interpretation to be correct, I would have to believe that 'middle America' naively bought the cynicism the neocons were selling--too twisted a logic for me, and for Maher, too.  

    Remember:  it is these communities who cynically believe that Hollywood advances a 'homosexual agenda,' and who believe Rush Limbaugh when he tells them that all feminists want to force women to have abortions.  Cynicism grows up from the ground in the part of the country Mellencamp was talking about.

    The reason these folks stopped voting for Democrats is pretty simple:  because Democrats stopped talking to them while the Republicans invested and invested in these areas.

    So I'd say the conservative Midwest is as cynical as anywhere else. It's the party that talks to them that gets their votes.

    ---
    ***Buy my book, support progressive writing! Framing the Debate, in stores now...

    by Jeffrey Feldman on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 11:26:02 AM PDT

  •  I go out of my way to talk to strangers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, feduphoosier

    sometimes in stores if there's an opening. Often I'll just say out of the blue, "Do you know what Bush said when he met the president of Brazil?"

    My attitude is to make the cliche "Don't talk to strangers" obsolete.

    One time in Long Island at Xmas time a black woman sat down with several shopping bags and a clean cut looking black man of at least 50 said, "Did you get all of your shopping done?" She got up and moved to the front of the bus. So I engaged him about how sad it is that most people are so leary about talking to strangers. He noted that there was a time when it wasn't like this.

    I heard a caller to cspan recently say that where she lives, DC, strangers don't talk to each other the way the used to and her friends in other parts of the country notice it too; (as does my dad in Long Island). The caller added that when she visited several countries in Europe the contrast to this was stark.

    •  Sadly when every other television show (0+ / 0-)

      is about murder, when movies about serial murderers are the rage and when the cable news networks spend much of their time on missing white girls, or on searching for who killed whom and why, it is no surprise.

      How many slice and dice shows about murder victims can one watch before becoming convinced how unsafe the world is and that strangers are dangerous.

  •  What Happened to Protest Singers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    feduphoosier

    Back in the day, say 1970, someone like Neil Young could write a song called "Ohio" record it, press it, and get it on the radio in three days. This could never happen now because, outside of college radio, stations wouldn't play it, partly because of the concentration of ownership in broadcast media, partly because of people like Rove who know how to harness the supposedly apolitical powers of gov't to punish their enemies.

    Instead, we have seasoned musicians, like Mellencamp, Young, Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Steve Earle who are at a point in their careers and personal fortunes where they're willing to put up with whatever harassment and censorship they have to endure to speak their mind. The Walter Cronkite moment for this administration has long passed.

  •  There IS a solution. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    simaramis, bablhous, feduphoosier

    This is an important diary because it lays out in very clear terms what is wrong in too many places in this country. The Great Swindle is good short hand for the cult of authority. Sara Robinson at Orcinus did two excellent series of aticles describing the problem and how to reach people trapped in it. You can find them both at Orcinus if you scroll down the left hand margin.

    Cracks in the Wall: Parts I, II, and III tells how to penetrate the closed world view of people like those in Indiana.

    Here's the good news. That Great Wall that separates our little reality-based community from The Fantasyland Next Door is not a monolith. Nor are the inmates of that Otherworld necessarily locked in there for all time and eternity. There's evidence -- from scientists, from experience, from history -- that there are cracks in that wall. They are small and subtle, to be sure (that's why nobody's ever noticed them before): at this point, they are mere hairlines, faint traces that are hard to spot without a good flashlight in the hands of someone who knows where to look. But, as someone who's spent much of her life pacing one side or the other of this wall, I am here to tell you: there are places where it fails. People do cross it, and survive to tell the tale. And, rather than continue to wallow in our frustration, it's high time we mapped those cracks, find effective ways to widen them, and eventually exploit them to help both afflicted individuals and our larger culture break through the insanity.

    Tunnels and Bridges: Parts I, II, III, and IV, plus a Short Detour gets right down to the fundamental forces at work here:

    America's founders understood all too well that would-be authoritarians would always be among us; and that holding on to our democracy would involve a constant struggle against their ongoing efforts to control us. That's what Ben Franklin was talking about when he said that we have "a republic -- if you can keep it." And what Tom Jefferson was alluding to when he told us that "the tree of liberty must be watered occasionally with the blood of tyrants and patriots." They knew that democracies are not established once, but re-created continuously as each generation reasserts its freedom against fresh generations of would-be rulers. It's an ongoing conversation about liberty, equality, and power that's re-negotiated – sometimes more peacefully, sometimes less -- every day.

    They also knew that our homegrown wannabe kings and dictators have momentum on their side. High-social-dominance (SDO) authoritarian leaders are always among us, always pushing, always scheming, always looking for their next chance. There is no opportunity to take control, legally or illegally, that they won't fail to exploit, as long as the gains promise to outweigh the costs. As Edmund Burke did not say (but usually gets the attribution for anyway): all that's required for them to succeed in this endless quest for power is for the rest of us to do nothing.

    (Link to Digby added - it's too appropriate in this context.)

    I can't recommend these articles enough; they should be must-reads for every Kossack trying to turn things around in this country. (Don't pass up Sara's articles on Kauffman's Rules either.)

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 01:19:07 PM PDT

  •  I, too, was raised to believe that people are (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bablhous, feduphoosier

    basically honest, upstanding and honorable

    , except that I was raised in Southern CA (that bastion of Hollywood lib'rul vice.)  It wasn't until I went off to college and then the "real world" that I found out otherwise.  
    So now I am overly cynical.  Unfortunately I became so too late to save myself from being a victim of those who were raised to lie, cheat, and use others for their own greed and advancement.  But that had nothing to do with politics.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 02:30:46 PM PDT

  •  I'm going to have to add a musical YouTube (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Debby

    to all of my diaries, just so I can keep clicking replay while scrolling through comments.

    Then again, most times I have 10 comments, so I might not need it.  Coming in handy today though.  Really love that second song.  Strikes chord with me.  ;D

  •  Having lived in Indiana for 16 years, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, feduphoosier

    I would like to say that it is not all tomatoes in the garden, everyone is friendly and naive.  

    Of course, I lived in the "Big City" (India-no-place), which is not too different from any other city I've lived in.... I live in Austin, now.

    I knew a lot of Democrats when I lived there.  Tons.  Indy was (possibly still is) a pretty durned "blue" town.  

    Lots of Republicans out in the rural areas, I never lived out there.

    I just wanted to point out that Indiana is not "Mayberryland" and it actually does have urban areas.

    •  We lived in Indy for 3 years (0+ / 0-)

      Terrific Independent theater there, and we had a lot of favorite hangouts.  It was a nice city, with terrific bicycle trails along the river.  It was very blue... and getting bluer.  Julia Carson is a fantastic representative (I had Burton.  Survived it somehow.)

      •  I like Carson, though when I wrote to her about (0+ / 0-)

        the PATRIOT Act, she sent me a form letter that basically said "blah blah, thank you for your concern, blah blah, I feel it is more important to protect us from perceived threats blah blah than to protect you from actual threats to your constitutional rights, blah blah."

        Kinda annoyed me a bit, but she's generally a good rep.

        I like Indy, I still have lots of friends up there.

  •  I read this diary first thing this morning (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    girlsanger

    and I've been thinking about it all day.  It is beautifully written, and nothing that I write below is meant to denigrate feduphoosier's point of view.  I just have a different one.  

    A few of the commentors above have touched on the subject of "heartland" and how that word offends a lot of the rest of us.  I concur.

    The "heartland" imo is responsible for the mess we are in right now.  If it weren't for those loyal red states Gore would be president now.  I really don't care if they're good neighbors or talk to strangers -- they were gullible and too easily lead by whomever swayed them.  I lived through 9/11, too, but I knew enough to realize who attacked us and knew that Iraq had nothing to do with it. I read and informed myself about history.  Unfortunately, the good people of the Heartland (for the most part) didn't care enough to do the same.

    I, too, remember my buolic childhood here in California.  We didn't lock our doors (I still don't) and we watched over our elderly neighbors (I still do).  But I live(d) in California - not the so-called heartland, so I guess I'm somehow less of a "good person" or whatever those people in the heartland are supposed to be automatically by virtue of the place of their birth.

    All I know is that it wasn't me that changed, it was the conservatives who went from just a different political point of view that we could have interesting discussions with -- to people who demonize anyone who isn't willing to subscribe to their points of view.  I'm still the same open, trusting, accepting person I've always been, it's the "conservatives" who are now demeaning and closed-minded, in my experience.

    I'm just tired of this whole Heartland meme.  I was born and raised in California and I'm no less of a patriot than anyone else in this country.

    I'm sorry, I just not ready to forgive the Mayberry Heartland.

  •  Doesn't add up (0+ / 0-)
    If these folk are so naive they can never believe ill of any one, how could they line up behind a party whose stock-in-trade is hate and division?
    •  Because their (0+ / 0-)

      authority (usually the local pastor) told them it was ok.

      IMO, this diary is more about "indoctrination", literally from the cradle to the grave. I think fedup was using "Midwestern" as the frame for the discussion. I grew up in rural western PA, and I wasn't the least bit offended by the "midwestern meme".  

      One of the points here is so well-taken, because it is a validation of a notion I've held close for a long time: certain factions of "modern-day, organized religion" in this country have corrupted the "cognitive thinking chip" of millions of our people. Where I grew up, if you heard it in church, you didn't question it.  

      This diary is so important, if for no other reason than that. IMO, there are churches in this country that hide behind Jesus while they proselytize division--if you looked, you'd probably find many of these same churches stumping for candidates at election time.

      And if there is a God, I do not believe that He would approve of either practice.

      "There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

      by o the umanity on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:43:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        The other prong, the authoritarianism, was the more believable theory posited in this diary.

        Which leads me further to think that the theory of "they are so good-hearted, they can't believe ill of their leadership" is sweet but misguided in the extreme.  Rather, they just don't buck the authorities they have internalized, thereby giving us the anomaly of seeming good-hearted people embracing viciousness with gusto.

        •  Not at all (0+ / 0-)

          see my post further down in the thread--if that kind of indoctrination is all you've ever known, you have no basis for comparison to any other belief system.

          Many of these good-hearted people have no idea that they are embracing viciousness. They think this way because it's all they've ever known; they were taught that way, so they think there's nothing wrong with thinking like they do.

          It is an anomaly to be sure, but it's borne out of authoritarianism. And most of these folks have never had that belief system thoroughly challenged before.

          Until someone does challenge it, they think there's nothing wrong with them at all, it's "everyone else" that's the problem. "Preacher Joe says..." Hey, where I grew up, that's pretty hard to challenge. Some people never get past that, especially if they don't get out of town much.

          "There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

          by o the umanity on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 07:11:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  While I think this was a very thoughtful, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater

    well-written diary, I must also take issue with the whole "Midwestern friendliness" idea. I grew up in a small town in southwestern Wisconsin on the banks of the Mississippi river, across from northern Iowa. My town was quite unusual for Wisconsin in that it was founded in the 1600s by French fur traders and Native Americans, many of whom intermarried. The Germans, Scandinavians, and "Bohunks" from various European countries mostly arrived in the 1800s. But by the time I was growing up in the 60s, it was mostly WASP, tho we did have a large Catholic community, with two parochial schools and two Jesuit high schools to the single public school system.

    As so many others have said, many of us white folks in smalltown America in those years had the same innocent, idyllic childhoods. Except, of course, for the poor white trash who lived in "Lowertown," and the "Fourth Warders" who lived on a little island connected by a couple of small bridges, who regularly suffered flooding that usually didn't affect the rest of the town. Sure, a lot of people pitched in to help in those times--but plenty in town resented having to pay for it in taxes, and there was always a strong movement to force the river rats to move. (Which eventually came to pass).

    There was also no acknowledgment nor help of any kind for those with family violence/abuse problems, mental health issues, substance abuse problems, et cetera. (One had to go to Madison for that, very hush hush.) You get my drift.

    But yes, people were pretty friendly on the surface, and much talk went on in grocery store lines and elsewhere, as it still does today. Of course, a lot of that talk is gossip, or about that new truck so and so just bought, or whose name is in the local paper for drunk driving and such. You might hear politics discussed in some local taverns and supper clubs, perhaps even heatedly, but I can tell you that in the aftermath of 9/11, it really didn't affect most folks, and while they spoke of it as a terrible thing, they still evoked the same old viewpoint--"that could never happen anywhere near here." (Same with the AIDS crisis back in the late 80s.) And on and on.

    Tho I'm back in Wisconsin for the past 7 years (due to family illnesses), I consider myself a displaced New Yorker, and I can't wait to get back there. I miss the ethnic diversity, the speed and hum of everything going on around me, the savviness and the anything-is-possible attitude of so many New Yorkers, especially the transplants from the Midwest. And yes, I miss the anonymous little conversations on the street or on the bus, even on the subway, and in stores of all kinds, restaurants, pretty much everywhere that people congregate. How anyone could have watched the 24/7 coverage of New Yorkers' responses (along with the many volunteers who came from around the country, yes) to 9/11 and not get that people in big cities help each other is beyond me. And not just in times of crisis, but every day. I knew at least several, if not all, of my neighbors in every bldg. I lived in, and made friends with many of them. I also knew shopkeepers in my East Village nabe back in the mid-80s (gasp!) who would notice if they didn't see me for a couple of days and would always ask if I was okay when I came in again. But at the same time, there was a healthy respect for everyone's privacy, and I was never bored with the gossip and small talk I endured when I (initially) moved back to my small town.

    Having said that, I must also say that the only other cities I've lived in are Minneapolis and Seattle, and I found many people in both places to be surface-friendly, but not particularly warm or helpful. I was actually told by a Seattle native (who was married to a high-school acquaintance) that I should "emphasize" that I was from the Midwest and "downplay" my more recent New York experience, not only when job-hunting, but socially as well.

    So yes, of course, there are good and bad and naive and cynical people everywhere, but I too believe that it's willful ignorance
    to just sit back in a comfortable little town in any part of the country, accepting the status quo, and casting uninformed votes that have a radical effect on those of us who do our homework, and who question our mass media and our govt. (And I am not saying this about feduphoosier. ;-) ).

    As for Mellencamp--I watched the show and I was baffled by his, to me, inarticulateness. And while Maher might have chosen his words differently--skeptical instead of cynical--I agreed completely with his reaction.

    Clearly this diary hit a nerve, and I thank "fedup" for writing it.

    "You've never seen everything. . ." Bruce Cockburn

    by girlsanger on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 05:32:12 PM PDT

    •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

      You said it in words that I was trying to find.  :)

      So yes, of course, there are good and bad and naive and cynical people everywhere, but I too believe that it's willful ignorance
      to just sit back in a comfortable little town in any part of the country, accepting the status quo, and casting uninformed votes that have a radical effect on those of us who do our homework, and who question our mass media and our govt.
      (And I am not saying this about feduphoosier. ;-) ).

       

      •  but how can it be (0+ / 0-)

        willful ignorance if you don't know anything else?

        We all have a responsibility to become more informed, but I'll bet to some of those of who fedup speaks, in their minds, the way they think already is just fine. And many of them thought all this time that watching teevee made them well-informed. If you asked them, many would tell you that they cast a well-informed vote, too.

        That's something else we can all point to as an "indoctrination" tool; it's been spewing "divisiveness" disguised as "news" for at least 35 years. IMO, that's a whole generation of people who have had it drilled into them that (among other things) the notion of "liberalism" is somehow wrong. Add to that the influence of certain churches whose real intentions are aren't exactly Godly, and it's a recipe for ignorance run amuck among millions.  

        To wit:

        I was actually told by a Seattle native (who was married to a high-school acquaintance) that I should "emphasize" that I was from the Midwest and "downplay" my more recent New York experience, not only when job-hunting, but socially as well.

        Said Seattle native had that ideal put in his/her head. From their perspective, your New York experience should be downplayed because it reflects on you in some way.

        Huh? Says who? People aren't born with those thoughts in their heads. Someone or something puts them there. And if such things are reinforced from an early age, it becomes a 'belief system'.

        Ignorance? Sure! Absolutely. But IMO, it's hardly willful, if it's all they've ever known.

        "There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

        by o the umanity on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:19:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry I never got to reply to many great comments (0+ / 0-)

      Like this one!  My browser kept freezing up from all of the comments (terrible internet connection right now, I'm literally in the woods... with all the connectivity drawbacks that entails!)  Yesterday was, unfortunately, a 'bad internets day.'  I was wildly frustrated that I couldn't even read most of these until today, other than a smattering.  So hopefully you'll see this.

      You know it was funny, because I agree -- the words didn't seem right to me.  Naive wasn't quite right, and neither was cynical.  But I think I grasped, maybe just from growing up so nearby where Mellencamp grew up, what he meant; and I also understood what Maher meant.  I understood both sides at once, which is what prompted me to write this diary.  I was intrigued that I could agree with both at once.  The Mellencamp side of me grasped the hard to explain openness around here, and not wanting people to change, to become 'careful' in everyday life.  Definitely careful in politics.  

      But that is also why I launched into the discussion of the conservative religious beliefs so prevalent here in the Bible Belt; I really do think part of their, perhaps inability to question authority is from being brainwashed from an early age.  If you attend one of those churches its easier to see how it works on your mind.  

      These people don't see any issue with fear politics, because like codependents who were raised in alcoholic families, they are used to being controlled by fear.  It is normal to them.  So it doesn't even occur to them to question it, and maybe they can't even really do it... without a lot of abuse.  

      I came to the conclusion, after my own experiences as a child (getting dragged to one of the churches once and being basically jumped by everyone as they tried to 'save me from hell,) that they couldn't think any other way.

  •  Another Hoosier (0+ / 0-)

    Fedup-I loved your diary.

    I'm another Hoosier, currently living in Florida but my wife is in Bloomington tonight interviewing for a job. Hopefully we'll be moving back soon.

    (Insider story, if you live near Columbus/Seymour/Bloomington, you'll love it. I'd told my wife about how people who live in Bloomington are called "townies" by some of the more snobbish students at IU. Tonight she was walking to a vegetarian restaurant somewhere near the campus and some college girl at a cafe hissed "Townie" after she walked past. We rolled laughing about it. I told my Penn-alumni bride she had the right to respond, "Go back to state school, you little nose picker.")

    So, about that whole Hoosier hospitality reputation...

    Indiana can be everything you describe. But as I think you've made clear in the comments, what you wrote wasn't intended to be a definitive portrait of society in a rural midwestern state, nor is what you describe unique to Indiana. (Though good luck finding anything like it in Ohio...I keed, I keed.)

    I think you did a really good job of describing what's behind what Mellencamp said. It's true, you can come out of this environment that you, I and the famous rock star grew up in and wind up sharing roughly the same political and social views. I'm not trying to speak for any other state, or to say what I've seen is exclusive, but I think Indiana liberalism is a humble liberalism. Not humble as in self-doubting or passive, but I think its born of things like seeing our fathers get up at 4:30 and 5 am to be at work at six - every morning for decades if they got lucky and dodged the layoffs. I also think its humble from being born in small places, where the lines between rich and poor, and black and white, are at once incredibly obvious in the physical sense of cars and neighborhoods, but abstract at the same time because there are only so many places to drink and buy groceries in a town of 5000.

    It is possible to experience these things and come out as a progressive, and God knows people like Dan Barton will temper your commitment. But when you grow up in this, you also learn that our outcome is not common. Those people that Mellencamp talked about with the Bush/Cheney signs in their yard? I know them - hell, I'm related to a lot of them. I don't know you but I'm sure you are, too. The next person I meet who spent their formative years in Indiana and can't name a dozen hard-core, Rush-addicted conservatives they'd invite to their wedding will be the first.  

    How does it happen? How do we see and experience almost all of the same things and turn out so different? I think a lot of it has to do with fear, and there's been a shitload of fear put on Hoosiers in the last 30 years. Vibrant towns have practically disappeared. The northern part of the state where I grew up has been beaten terribly in job losses and a shrinking standard of living. (I cry when I think about what has happened to South Bend/Mishawaka and Elkhart in my lifetime.) Outside of a couple of suburbs in Indy our schools fell far behind in the 80's and 90's. A large percentage of those who do make it to college and graduate get the hell out as soon as they graduate.

    The source of the Bush/Cheney signs in 2004 stretch back to Reagan and the despicable campaign that Dan Quayle ran against Birch Bayh in 1980. They came in and told these people who had been shaken by the economic turmoil in the 70's that their problem were the unions that put them in the middle class and the government that tried to help them stay there. And after the 70's, hundreds of thousands believed it. That began more than a quarter-century of demagoguery by cynical Republicans like Burton, Quayle and Chocola.

    Maher overlooked one critical point in his diatribe about those naive rubes in the midwest: They don't get this image of Bush as a guy you can have a beer with from campaign TV ads (they're non-existant in places like Indiana) or out of their own imagination. It's fed to them, from the media stars on the coasts. For the talk of consolidation in major media markets, it's been even worse in rural areas and states. Local print news has become horrible in a lot of smaller towns where it exists and local TV is even worse. Radio has been hit hardest of all. Every town of 10,000 used to have a locally-owned AM station that did news and a lot of them were genuinely good at it. News went away with the end of the Fairness Doctrine, then the stations were gobbled up by Clear Channel or converted to syndicated talk format. For about a decade in the 80's and 90's before the internet became widely available, your only source of real news in a lot of small towns was the NewsHour. The environment was well seasoned to embrace Fox News years before they got on the air. I don't think it is a coincidence that this period is when the conservatism in the midwest became so virulent.

    Anyway, it's late and I think I'm starting to ramble. Great diary.

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