The Roots of Rural Rage

To the Editor:

Re “The Mystery of White Rural Rage,” by Paul Krugman (column, Feb. 27):

In 2006 I rode my bicycle across the country. From San Diego to Georgia I traveled over long stretches of empty road that connected small rural communities.

What I sensed in each of these small communities was the comfort of familiarity. The people know one another. Because of this intimacy, this community family if you will, they’re inclined to forgive within the family but, I think, are inclined to blame others on the “outside” for the ills that befall them.

Christian values, love of God and country, are supposed to be an inoculation against bad things. Yet almost every per capita statistic — teen pregnancy, gun deaths, infant mortality, spousal abuse, drug use, alcoholism, poverty — shows an inherent, not extrinsic, problem in rural America.

Rural residents, as Mr. Krugman points out, live on the “destruction side of the equation,” but technology alone is not to blame. A distorted fear of outside forces perpetuated by a conservative political agenda and the dream of returning to the halcyon days that are never coming back is holding them captive.

Reed Caster
Warren, R.I.

To the Editor:

Here in flyover country the resentment is palpable, symbolized by billboards along I-70 that announce, “One Kansas Farmer Feeds More than 155 People + You!” Translation: If we don’t do what we do (grow your food), it doesn’t matter what you do (type on your keyboards).

Small-town and rural people are simply tired of being unseen and therefore disrespected. I doubt there’s a single salve for that resentment, but here’s one suggestion for city-dwellers: Get humble and curious; get in your car and spend a day in a rural culture. And listen.

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