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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Dec 23, 2011

Every four years, for a brief moment, we Iowans get our time in the sun. Actually, it is not so much the sun as it is a scorching spotlight as the caucuses approach and is immediately extinguished the morning after, at least for another four years.

For a short time, we share the focus of the political world with Washington, D.C.

You can approve or disapprove of what appears to be way too much influence that is given to a small state in the Midwest that cannot be considered representative of our country, but that is the way it is.

In the midst of hearing what candidate is going up in the polls and who is no longer leading, we had a diversion last week when a magazine published a piece written by a professor of journalism at one of our major universities.

After living here for 20 years, he was leaving the state for another university and fired a parting shot at the place and people he was leaving.

I am not going to mention the name of the professor or the magazine as neither are worthy of the respect that naming would give them.

The essence of his writing was that after arriving here from San Francisco 20 years ago, he did not care for either Iowa as a state or the people who are its residents.

He then laid out his laundry list of things wrong with Iowa.

There were two mistakes here. First, it was a mistake that a professor of journalism, no less, would and could create such a poorly prepared piece of writing.

It would not have passed a freshman composition class at any college without the instructor telling the student, “Take this back and try again.”

Secondly, it was a mistake for the magazine to publish this, thereby giving it some credibility by being in print.

The timing of this hit piece is suspect as it appears just weeks before the caucuses and is an attempt to pander to those who want to believe in Midwest stereotypes.

In his defense, the author said he was merely stating things that needed to be said about Iowa and its residents. Many of his points were accurate such as Iowa’s high average age and the lack of opportunities for young people, especially in the rural areas.

The problems he stated are not just Iowa problems, but problems in the Midwest in general, particularly those states that are largely rural. Singling out Iowa is unfair and weakens his argument.

After stating the facts of high average age and limited opportunities, he went on to say that the small Iowa towns are populated by people “just waiting to die.”

That was one of many instances where he went too far in making his case.

Early in his writing, he used the example that our two senators in Washington are opposites in their political philosophies which proved to him that Iowa was “schizophrenic” in its politics.

I believe that others could use this as an example of the wide range in our viewpoints and that Iowa should (to use a hackneyed phrase) “be celebrated for its diversity.”

The holes in the author’s numerous points would make Swiss cheese envious.

It must be sad for the author that someone like me who understands how a combine operates, has years of tractor driving experience, or can discuss the best rate of Roundup for weed control would take his journalistic accomplishment to task.

But that is just another example of diversity of opinion.

There is one item where the professor of journalism and I agree. Having left Iowa for another state, he is in a better place.

His not being in Iowa has made Iowa a better place. That is my parting shot.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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