What’s Happened To Us?

The other night, I was at a dinner party with a bunch of people I was meeting for the first time. I hadn’t been there twenty minutes when one of the men at my table launched into an unprovoked diatribe against the Star Tribune, referring to it as the “Star & Sickle” and implying that, if not for the liberal drumbeat of the state’s largest newspaper, the whole state would instantly awaken from its leftist brainwashing and embrace a beautiful new conservative reality. Now, I try not to be argumentative with people I don’t know, and there’s no question that the Strib’s editorial slant is decidedly to the DFL side of things, so I just sat back and marveled at the guy’s pique.

Ten minutes later, a discussion began across the table about the Deep South. I’ve lived there, so I cheerfully waded into the conversation. One of the men announced that his daughter lives in Memphis, and I allowed as how I’ve been there, and it seemed a nice enough place. A cloud crossed the man’s face, and he leaned into me across the gravy boat. Barely even bothering to lower his voice, he adopted an ominous tone, and said, “Well, it’s all right, I guess. But did you know that Memphis is 80% colored? ” Huh? Colored? Did it suddenly become 1953 when I wasn’t looking? I’m sure the shock showed on my face, but the guy went on anyway: “I mean, they aren’t racists or anything, but their kids are gettin’ to be school age, and they don’t want ’em exposed to all that, so they’re movin’ to San Francisco.”

San Francisco? Really? To avoid exposing their children to people whose existence falls outside the white, Midwestern norm? Um, okay, then. Good luck with that. I shrunk back into my chair and began scouting for the nearest exit, while the guy and his friends continued to ramble on about how the Strib and the black folks were conspiring to ruin pro sports for “normal” Minnesotans.

Honestly, what’s happened to this state? I don’t mean to imply that we’re suddenly overrun with bigots and conspiracy theorists – obviously, I ran into a bad apple, and I assume that most of the other dinner guests were as horrified as I – but lately, it seems like the Minnesota I know and love has been getting buried beneath an avalanche of angry extremists and self-interested capitalists bent on turning us into Alabama North. From the no-new-taxes-ever-no-matter-what-and-to-hell-with-your-damn-bleeding-heart-social-programs dogma that now rules our state government, to the growing epidemic of people who go ballistic the minute they spot a line in a newspaper that is insufficiently praiseful of the presidential candidate they support, we seem to be rapidly losing the ability to rationally discuss issues and come to logical conclusions. And that ability is, as far as I can tell, the only thing that has kept this a better place to live than a lot of other states over the last 30 years.

I’ve lived in Alabama South, and it’s a nice place, it is, but there’s a reason I came up here the minute I got the chance. Minnesota really is a distinctive place, and for all the right reasons. For decades now, we have achieved a balance of government oversight and personal freedom that has allowed the majority of our citizenry to pursue their own version of the American Dream, while insuring that we didn’t let anyone get so far behind that the dream would elude them forever. And all of a sudden, a large chunk of our populace seems to have become ashamed of that fact, simply because a few crackpots are standing up in the corner and screaming about socialism and the gospel of the free market. And that’s never a good sign…

Comments are closed.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.