America’s flyover folk have been a target of disdain by the coastal elites. The rural population’s traditional values of family, love, and God seem to be antithetical to everything most urban dwellers cherish. The domestic culture war and social media have amplified this growing divide, highlighting progressive elites flummoxed by gridded farm fields and op-eds lamenting on Middle America. Champagne socialists residing in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles seem to buy into the stereotypes of ranchers eating pickled pig feet, shoofly pie, and possum stew morning, noon, and nighttime, too.
Jackson Kernion, a philosophy lecturer at the University of California (UC) Berkeley, posted a series of tweets that highlighted his immense loathing of flyover country. After his tweets garnered attention, he apologized for the tone – not the substance – of his remarks and deleted them.
So, what did the Harvard-educated paragon of virtue say? Here is the main tweet that generated a lot of controversy:
“I unironically embrace the bashing of rural Americans. They, as a group, are bad people who have made bad life decisions. Some, I assume, are good people. But this nostalgia for some imagined pastoral way of life is stupid and we should shame people who aren’t pro-city.”
But there were plenty of other goodies captured by the Twitterverse:
- “It should be uncomfortable to live in rural America. It should be uncomfortable to not move.”
- “Rural healthcare should be expensive! And that expense should be borne by those who choose rural America!”
- “Same goes for rural broadband. And gas taxes.”
Kernion issued a pseudo-apology for his “bad tweet,” claiming that “my tone is way crasser and meaner than I like to think I am.” Perhaps he is one of those who think defending free speech is on par with Nazism.
‘Reverse Pol Pot’
Someone described the professor as being the “reverse Pol Pot.” And this could be an apt description of Kernion and others who share his loathing of any town that does not possess a dozen Starbucks locations in a one-mile radius.
Pol Pot was the leader of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, a communist outfit that seized control of the country in 1975. The Marxist-Leninist’s first acts were abolishing private property and eliminating money in order to establish a state of “perfect harmony” that removed all classes and resolved social injustices. Within months of taking office, Pol Pot’s government confiscated lands and nationalized the means of production. He forced more than two million people from the cities and into the countryside, shutting down businesses and rationing food. The city-dwellers were required to live in collectivized communes and put into forced labor.
The rest can be summarized by one event: The Killing Fields.
Rural v. Urban: The Culture War
Until rural America embraces the same political patterns and social values of city slickers – drag queen storytime, socialism, and Wes Anderson films – the coastal elites will continue to despise and attack them. Every so often, when their hatred is revealed, they give a hogwash apology that smacks of insincerity. The culture divide in the United States is real and deep; we cannot even agree on the most basic of principles, whether free speech should be universal or killing babies is wrong. How can the nation stitch up these fractured relations? It will take a lot of thread to patch the country back together again.
Read more from Andrew Moran.