Wednesday, July 22, 2009


One of the big takeaways from my recent scholarship is the stuff of Timothy Egan's latest column. Now that he is saying it, perhaps it will garner a bit more attention.

Egan's column is Methland v. Mythland. Egan writes of the brief media furor over the book Methland (see my post here) and then continues:

And then it all passed, as these things do, the damage done, leaving the impression of rural America as a broken land, scary. In the interim, the more traditional narrative, of country people somehow more authentic than city folk — “the best of America in these small towns” — came roaring back in the form of Sarah Palin.

In truth, neither of these images does justice to the complexities of small-town life. And neither version does anything to advance the cause of an honest rural policy, something that might help some of the worst casualties of global economic tumult.

Egan goes on to describe what all rural scholars know and what all law- and policy-makers should know: rural residents are more likely to be poor, to be without health insurance, and to lack access to sorts of health and human services city dwellers take for granted. Many rural communities are suffering population loss. As Egan expresses it, "[i]n the invisible margins off the interstate, the story about decline takes place in slow motion, rarely attracting a headline."

Egan's right, but he fails to mention several recent headlines that have been quite hostile to rural communities and interests, such as this one.

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