Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hatin' on rural people

A Tweet by a guy named Jackson Kernion came across my Twitter feed yesterday.  Indeed, since I write about rural stuff, it popped up several times over the course of a few hours.  Here's what it said:
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 is nostalgia for some ... 
I'm pasting below the screen shot I took.  When I went to reTweet my friend Chris Chavis's Tweet, I saw that Kernion's Tweet had been removed.  

Then I came across this on Kernion's Twitter feed: 
Pretty sure I did a bad tweet here.  Gonna delete it.
I'll want to reflect on it more later, but my tone is way crasser and meaner than I like to think I am.

Wish I knew what the rest of Kernion's initial Tweet said.  My Twitter reply to his retraction:  "thanks for hitting the pause button on this." 

Kernion, I see, is a candidate for a PhD in Philosophy at UC Berkeley, focusing on philosophy of the mind, philosophy of science and epistemology.  The description of his dissertation research, on his personal home page, looks appropriately cerebral.  Nothing there hints at why he might harbor such animus to rural folks.  His Twitter profile shows his location as Palo Alto, California--so maybe living among the super rich and uber urban has done it to him.     

Kernion's Tweet reminds me of the comments of former FCC chair Michael Katz a decade ago: 
Other people don’t like to say bad things about rural areas . . . [s]o I will. . . . The notion that we should be helping people who live in rural areas avoid the costs that they impose on society . . . is misguided . . . from an efficiency point of view and an equity one.” Katz called rural places “environmentally hostile, energy inefficient and even weak in innovation, simply because rural people are spread out across the landscape.
That's as quoted in my 2011 article, The Geography of the Class Culture Wars, which surveyed anti-rural rhetoric in the 2008 presidential race, mostly rhetoric in mainstream, left-leaning media.  It wasn't pretty but little of it was as blunt or harsh as Katz's.  To my knowledge, he never withdrew his comments, or apologized for them.

Here's another item, this one from the Washington Post opinion pages in June, that reflects animus toward rural folks, "When we think of America, we shouldn't think rural." 

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