Archive for September 28th, 2006

The Homelander Revolution

September 28, 2006

Since it is, in fact, one of my hobbies to try to understand this whole red state-blue state thing (for lack of a better term), I was wholly engaged by this book review of Brian Mann’s Welcome to the Homeland, which makes another attempt to explain it all to ya on this subject.

One choice excerpt:

Another way of putting it is that homelanders are the highly visible minority of Americans who are least comfortable with the totality of change in our national life over the past 40 or 60 or 100 years. They’re uncomfortable with the transformed role of women, the heightened sensitivity to race relations, the declining importance of marriage, the dethroning of Protestant Christianity as a quasi-state religion, the widespread acceptance of homosexuality, the renewed influx of non-English-speaking and nonwhite immigrants, and the constant negotiation required by the polyglot nature of metropolitan life.

Rural, conservative Americans see themselves, Mann writes, as outsiders in our metrocentric culture, but as outsiders who are “uniquely connected to the true vein of national character” and therefore “uniquely qualified to judge and correct the broader society when it goes astray.” This conviction is profound and genuine, Mann insists. He paraphrases the message of Focus on the Family’s influential radio broadcasts this way: “We’re normal. We’re healthy. We offer a better way forward.”

This makes good sense to me, admittedly a clueless blue-stater despite my red-state roots. (And by the way, could someone in the studio audience please explain what the Intimidator is?).

On the other hand, Mann’s book contains some deep flaws, which the reviewer details on the last page of the review. Personally, I loved Thomas Frank’s What’s The Matter With Kansas and found it incredibly insightful. This formulation, though, adds another piece to the puzzle. If Frank is describing how metros see homelanders, to utilize Mann’s terminology, Mann is describing how homelanders see themselves, which is equally if not more important in trying to understand what’s the matter not just with Kansas, but with all of us.