Illegal Jesus

Small town charm

Posted in 2008 election, personal, political, the personal is political by writerwriting on October 21, 2008

According to Sarah Palin, small towns are pro-America. This statement makes me shudder in fear and also laugh very loudly until I’m like, choking to death. I know small towns. I know them well. I grew up in the smallest effing town ever.

Okay. Not ever. But it’s pretty frickin’ small.

My progressive liberal pinko commie gay-lovin’ ass would probably be strung up from the elementary school flag pole if I dared parade around town in an Obama shirt. 99% of the town’s population is white, with the remaining 1% accounting for the one Native American family that we all know are crazy drunks anyway, so what do they matter. The one black family from town I remember in my lifetime didn’t actually live in town. They lived about 10 miles out in a shitty house. Our bus route had to make a special trip to pick up and drop off the one school-age child. He was about 7. They lasted almost a year before they were driven out of town my the racist dumbfucks I grew up with.

Living in a small town has its benefits. There is no traffic, the cost of living is ridiculously low (hello, poverty!), and the biggest crime sprees involve bored high school students who take the newspaper machines from in front of the general store and deposit them on the pitcher’s mound at the softball field (but I wouldn’t know anything about that first-hand).

Disadvantages include underpaid teachers in an ailing school district, little to no extracurricular activities, few choices in what classes you take, poverty, no food, racism, bigotry, and everyone being in your damn business. I had one really good teacher from grades 7 to 12 and the only reason she stuck around was because of her roots. This was her town, her family, so she stuck around, presumably underpaid, and taught our parents and our siblings and us until her retirement. She then moved on to teach at a nearby university and I always wanted to tell her classes to pay special attention, they were getting one of the good ones. (Come to think of it, I might have threatened a few of her students that one time I burst into her classroom right before she started that day’s lecture.)

People in my hometown work hard to feed their families. It is a farming community, first and foremost. Kids learn to drive tractors before they learn to drive cars (and they don’t learn to drive cars, they learn to drive trucks). Growing up here, you know the value of hard work. You understand the pull of the land and the satisfaction of seeing your crops creep through the soil and grow and grow under the hot hot sun. You understand herding cattle in the middle of a thunderstorm and you understand the value of hardship and family. My daddy worked damn hard to keep food on our table until we nearly lost everything and even then, when he gave up the tractor for a desk and leased out all of our land but the square upon which our house sat, we were dependent on the government for some things. I felt no shame in it and only knew it as our way of life.

Loving the land and the people around you, that’s pro-America.

But that’s not what a lot of small town are really about. Under the surface of family and bonds to the land grows anger and racism and ignorance. It breeds and multiplies, is passed down through generations, and the longer a family line stays in town, the less they see of the world outside. The less they see of Others. Their vision becomes distorted and stunted.

My small hometown, where I lived for 21 years of my life, is racist, backward, and ignorant. Not everyone fits in this category. There are rouges who are free-thinkers, who strive to break the boundaries, who escape and move on and out and away. But even the nicest people, the kindest people, the ones who would give you the clothes off their back won’t hesitant to drop a racial slur or spew anti-Anyone Who Isn’t Like Us rhetoric.

Small towns need help, not racism. They need support, not talking points. But despite this, I shudder to think that the small town I grew up in could be considered pro-America. They have been, in my experience, everything America is not. These people have called my incredibly dedicated, incredibly devout friend a bad mother who has abandoned her family just because she is attending a different church (and a different kind of church, one with a huge online ministry).

How is it pro-America to tear down someone who wants to be the best version of herself? Who only wants the best for her family? How is it pro-America to run out on a rail anyone whose skin varies from your own? How is it pro-America to degrade and stereotype the true Americans who live next door? How is it pro-America to teach your children to hate and discriminate?

This small town attitude is what I should strive for if I want to be considered pro-America by the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann? No thank you, ladies. If that’s the kind of America you want this nation to become, then I don’t want to have any part in it.

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One Response

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  1. indiegoddess said, on October 21, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Writer Writing, it is not the land that calls to you. Don’t you see that? It is JESUS.


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