Sunday, February 8, 2009

More on rural Arkansans and Obama

I just came across this on From Start to Finish. The brief item is based on a Washington Post article by Anne Hull, which ran on January 16, 2009. Her article's headline is "Disconnected from Obama's America: Arkansans Wary of President Elect's Urban Perspective," and the dateline is Brinkley, Arkansas, population 3,940.

One person Hull interviewed for her story is Wayne Loewer, a 52-year-old who farms 2,900 acres in this town in east central Arkansas. Here is an excerpt quoting Loewer and some others, speaking about Obama:

"I'm worried that he's not gonna understand the rural way of life," he says.

On this cold January day, Loewer makes his morning rounds -- the irrigation company, the seed distributor, a well supplier -- and everywhere he goes, the same anxieties are expressed.

"That comment he made about guns and religion, it's frightening, you have to admit," says the secretary at his accountant's office.

Loewer agrees. "I don't believe in going around with a gun strapped to your hip, Wild West-style," he says. "But you ought to be able to protect yourself."

He understands the cultural chasm between him and Obama's Ivy League, biracial, global polish.
The story goes on to discuss further the importance of guns to Southern rural residents like Loewer. This part expresses well the folks I know well in a different part of the state:
Guns define Loewer's life. He grew up walking the woods with a rifle. . . . There are few better feelings than the one he gets taking his 14-year-old son hunting and teaching him about white-tailed deer.
In addition to its focus on the rural-urban culture divide, the story also presents Brinkley, as well as Monroe County in its entirety, as a place with a sharp black-white divide that also influenced the election here. This racial divide is also evident in this provocative slide show that accompanies the story.

My earlier thoughts on the role of rurality in Arkansas's 2008 vote are here. Read an earlier post about Brinkley and its economy here.

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