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.