Thursday, September 11, 2008

Small towns: Time's Joe Klein writes that Palin has exploited America's myth of the frontier and the small town. According to Joe, this is pure nostalgia. America of the past 50 years has suffered the same kinds of defeats the South did from 1965 through the Civil Rights Era, so we yearn for the innocent days of Little House on the Prairie.

Realism, by contrast, lies in the urbane figure of Barack Obama. He is the 21st century.

In my view, this is the liberal fantasy of the Black Man. Modern urban life produces Obamas--thank God for it.

But let's get real. More often the big city gives us the black hustler. The absent black father. The black predator. Looking at the General Social Survey, 32.1% of black males in cities of at least 500,000 admitted to having been arrested, at least once. The corresponding number in towns under 25,000 is 23%. Arrest is a pretty good indicator of a dim future, so for every two guys that go down in towns like Wasilla, Alaska, three go down in the Big City.

Allow me an anecdote to illustrate my view that small towns produce less dysfunction, especially for blacks. My best friend when I was a kid was Henry, one of the only black boys in our small town. There was zero black subculture. Henry grew up in a close-knit white world, and there was no place to go if he didn't like it. And I don't think it was an accident that he turned out to be such a great guy. He got excellent grades in school. He never got into trouble. Henry was an incredible athlete. He graduated from a nearby university and ended up earning his MA. Last I heard, he is a working as a... okay, I think it's something like a community organizer, but we can live with that.

For all the injustices they suffered, black families showed much less dysfunction before achieving legal equality, and some of this, I think, was due to the fact that many blacks hadn't moved to the city yet, and small town life is good for people. There's more informal social control, an absence of deviant subcultures, and blacks especially seem to thrive in this kind of environment.

I might sound like a social engineer here, but at least I'm not pretending that all groups of people react to a given environment in the same way.

Klein seems pleased to see this old way life fading into the sunset, but we need more, not fewer small towns.

5 comments:

Half Sigma said...

Perhaps it requires higher IQ to live successfullly in a city.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps it requires higher IQ to live successfullly in a city."

That would leave out just about the all blacks I see shuffling about our urban areas.

SFG said...

Well, he did say successfully. Knowing HS I doubt he includes welfare in that.

Whiskey said...

What Klein does not like is that small towns favor boring ordinary people, who dominate social life, politics, business, and so on versus the "cool glitterati" of the artistic, fashion, and celebrity crowd.

What Klein also does not factor in, is that big cities are gigantic targets. Shanghai AND NYC are walking dead cities, someone is going to nuke them eventually. Given nuclear proliferation, lots and lots of decentralized terrorist groups, and the ability to gain men and money by carrying out a nuking.

Once a major city is nuked, everyone will flee to small towns, which given telecom and other advantages, can be more robust, better quality of life, and cheaper living.

Actually, exurban living is the current wave of the future, people are leaving NYC-DC metroplexes for places like Dallas-Fort Worth, Tampa, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, St. Louis, and other areas where land is cheap and there are relatively good and widespread job bases.

Alaska of course is not the traditional small town either, rather the boom town exurbs of the Mountain West. It could be Provo or Boise or Colorado Springs. But Wasila is typical of that sort of place -- growth, affordability, and opportunity to ordinary folk.

Peter said...

Alaska of course is not the traditional small town either, rather the boom town exurbs of the Mountain West. It could be Provo or Boise or Colorado Springs. But Wasila is typical of that sort of place -- growth, affordability, and opportunity to ordinary folk.

Life in Wasilla isn't all wholesome, given its status as the crystal meth capital of Alaska. There's also the point, which I mentioned at Siggy's, at the time Trig Palin was born the hospital's web site showed 13 other births. For three of these, only the mother's name was shown, while for four others the mothers and fathers had different surnames. Wasilla doesn't seem like the sort of place where many married women keep their maiden names. So for a two- or-three day period last April, it is possible that half of the births in (all-white) Wasilla were out of wedlock, as the old expression goes.