In early December, a University of Iowa journalism professor wrote an article in The Atlantic online that tried to paint a picture of "real" Iowa and make the argument that Iowa is not representative of the country as a whole. He's right on that point. And well, he has every right to have the opinion and to write the piece. He makes valid points about Iowa's shortcomings and the issues of small towns. But similar criticisms can be made of small towns everywhere. When the brouhaha exploded last month, I sat down to read the article with the expectation that everyone was over-reacting, being too sensitive, and needed to put down the pitchforks. But halfway through the article he lost me with his sweeping generalizations and stereotypes, but yes, everyone does need to put down the pitchforks. He paints a picture of Iowa with broad strokes. He gets basic facts wrong. And he's a journalism professor who has chosen to live in this state for over 20 years. Rykert, a relative newcomer to the state, didn't have quite the same visceral reaction.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of criticisms to be made about the presidential nominating process and allowing Iowa, or any state, to always go first. Bring on those arguments. But I don't think the argument should start by tearing Iowa apart and focusing on its every weakness. It's like when we tell people who don't live here about less than perfect winter weather, and they respond by saying, "How do you live there?" It's a rude and presumptuous question that drives me batty.
Anyway, a local filmmaker made a really nice response to all those flyover naysayers. You should watch it, but as a warning there's some cursing so it's marked as NSFW:
And you know what, we are nice - even if we are, to borrow from Garrison Keilor, ostentatious about our humility.
P.S. I also liked this blog post rebuttal from Raygun, a t-shirt shop in Des Moines. Because I speak fluent sarcasm.