Monday, November 30, 2015

"How the widening urban-rural divide threatens America"

That's the title of a recent op-ed column in the Los Angeles Times by Victor Davis Hanson.  Here's an excerpt.

The urban-rural divide can be experienced within hours. I live half the week in a 140-year-old farmhouse in the rural Central Valley, the other half in a studio apartment in Palo Alto near the Stanford University campus.

At my house, I worry about whether the well will go dry. I lock the driveway gate at night, and if someone knocks after 10 p.m., I go to the door armed. Each night, I check the security lights in the barnyard and watch to ensure that coyotes aren't creeping too close from the vineyard. I wage a constant battle against the squirrels, woodpeckers and gophers that undermine the foundation, poke holes in the sheds and destroy irrigation ditches.

At my apartment, I have few concerns about maintenance and more time to read, brood and mix with others. Urbanites may work long hours at the office among thousands of people, but they often remain in a cocooned existence shielded from the physical world. Essential to the neurotic buzz of 24/7 cable news, Twitter and Facebook is the assumption that millions of Americans are not busy logging, hauling in a net on a fishing boat or picking peaches.

These differences wouldn't matter so much if it weren't for the fact that the nation's urbanites increasingly govern those living in the hinterlands, even as vanishing rural Americans still feed and fuel the nation.

The elite that runs the country in politics, finance, journalism and academia is urban to the core: degrees from brand-name universities, internships at well-connected agencies, residence in New York or Washington, power marriages. The power resume does not include mechanical apprenticeships, work on ships or oil rigs, knowledge of firearms or farm, logging or mining labor — jobs now regulated and overseen by those with little experience of them. Few in Silicon Valley know where in the High Sierra their Hetch Hetchy water comes from or where in the bay their sewage is dumped. Food, too, is an abstraction. I doubt that most of my Stanford colleagues know that a raisin is typically a dried Thomson seedless grape, or whether a peach or plum needs to be cross-pollinated.

There's more at the link.

I've found this same point troubling for many years, in both Europe and the USA.  One's much closer to nature if one lives outside the city, closer to the 'real world' instead of the 'concrete jungle.  One is much less insulated from reality outside the 'concrete jungle', no matter what continent one's on.  A suspicious African elephant losing its temper because some dumbass driver sounded his horn?  Check.  Hikers in Hawaii who didn't realize the danger of getting caught in flash floods?  Check.  A freak wave sinks a whale-watching boat, killing some of the tourists aboard?  Check.  All these hazards will be well-known to those who live among them on a daily basis . . . not so much those who don't.

Trouble is, most city dwellers are so insulated from these realities that they don't realize how cocooned their lives have become.  Take the young woman who, when informed that the beef she was buying in the supermarket came from slaughtered cows, said in disbelief, "You mean beef comes from moo cows?" and burst into inconsolable tears.  (No, I'm not making that up.)  If one lives closer to predators, one understands what they are and why they behave that way, and takes appropriate precautions;  but city-dwellers go for a run in the country without realizing that joggers can - and sometimes do - trigger a predator's chase instinct, with lethal consequences.  They also fail to recognize the predators in their midst;  criminals, who prey on other human beings and their property as ruthlessly as any predator in nature.  One's defenses against criminal predators are precisely the same as those against natural predators;  awareness, preparedness, and the tools and mindset to stop their attack in any way necessary.  However, far too many city dwellers walk around like sheep, content to be in the 'security' of the herd, relying on others to protect them (and forgetting that those 'others' in their police uniforms can't be everywhere at once).

That, to me, is the greatest danger of the urban-rural divide that Mr. Hanson highlights.  We've forgotten how to be safe in the midst of predators.  We've become sheep.  We feel rather than think.  That's why some of the 'Black Lives Matter' protestors can be so ludicrously wrong, yet believe with all their hearts that they're absolutely right, and fully justified in their wrongheadedness.  That's why some can argue to admit tens of thousands of (allegedly) Syrian refugees whose backgrounds and intentions can't possibly be checked, and who may - almost certainly do - harbor thousands of jihadists and potential terrorists among them.  Certainly, their demographics aren't those of 'traditional' refugees!  Common sense says that we shouldn't admit them to our own countries, but rather offer them support, shelter and aid where they are, keeping the potential danger as far away from our people as possible;  but misguided (and largely urban) compassion, based on emotion rather than reality, condemns those who want to ensure the safety of their own society.

So much that's wrong with our society is wrong precisely because those who espouse and expound it are isolated from reality.  They've grown up in their urban cocoons, knowing nothing else, and they're campaigning and legislating out of that 'cocoon mind' . . . even though it has little or nothing to do with reality.  They're blind.  That makes them incredibly dangerous in their ignorance.  (How many senior members of the present Administration come from anything other than urban backgrounds?)



Timbo said...

Well said, Peter.

Gorges Smythe said...

I've lamented for years of the same situation on our county level. The voters in the city elect the county commissioners who control life in the country.

Anonymous said...

Not to disagree with you about the majority of the sheep you are writing about (and Lenin called them "useful idiots"), but I believe that the people in the administration are fully aware of what they are doing, and are doing it because they are dedicated to the destruction of our country. They might press release about "compassion", etc, but that's simply for the consumption of the useful idiots. And when the "refugees" start destroying the neighborhoods where they have been placed, (and the Administration is using Section 8 authority for that), the Administration will have yet another "crisis" to "solve". The more paranoid might believe that they have been trying since inauguration for a "crisis" sufficient for martial law, and if you can't get it from your treatment of the natives, then you import "refugees" to provide it.

Anonymous said...


A careful study of the rhetorical and criminal differences between BLM/police and pro life/PP is illuminating.

Obama's pet organization has been pumping out activists, who have probably been directed towards BLM and the junk on campus.

bob the fool

Raptor said...

"Take the young woman who, when informed that the beef she was buying in the supermarket came from slaughtered cows, said in disbelief, "You mean beef comes from moo cows?" and burst into inconsolable tears. (No, I'm not making that up.)"

I had to laugh when I read that, because when I worked at The Supermarket, I had that happen to me multiple times, only with smoked salmon and/or smoked whitefish instead of beef. I swear, one seemingly-intelligent and seemingly-well educated woman accused me of, and I quote, "killing Nemo" when she found out that our product was caught off the coast of Nova Scotia rather than, I don't know, grown in vats in the back of the store or something. And yes, I know Nemo was a clownfish and not a salmon or whitefish. Yet the lady in question did not find that fact consoling in the least when I tried to explain that to her. (Side note, anyone else think that "Killing Nemo" sounds like the title of a Tarantino-directed Pixar movie?)

Uncle Lar said...

Point of clarification. Not only can't the police be everywhere, but technically it is not their duty to protect individuals. Their job is to enforce the law and catch criminals after the crime has been committed. Sure, most will try to look after the folks, but if they fail to do so you have no comeback available. This has been taken all the way to SCOTUS who affirmed that individual protection is not law enforcement's responsibility.
No matter what lies the lib/progs tell you, the responsibility to protect your life and property rests entirely on your own shoulders.

shugyosha said...


you mean this: ?

Nice town (not being ironic). Take care.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

I'll have you know that back in the 60s it was routinely taught in the classroom where our food comes from, how it is grown or acquired, and how as well.
"You mean beef comes from a 'moo cow'?" God, what happened to simple basic general collective generic education already?

Tal Hartsfeld said...

No comment on the slight grammatical error in my above comment.

Parents were also instrumental in supplementing their own children's knowledge. They would often tell and elaborate on their own "adventures" working in a butcher shop, or in a candy store, or simply on a relative's farm.
And some of those accounts could be quite graphic as well. Often making one "think twice" about what one routinely eats and drinks. (Like the candy factory supervisor who never trimmed or cleaned his fingernails, and, demonstrating how to do the job, dug his hands into the gooey vat of candy to slap on the conveyor belt which send the mix into the mold.)

m4 said...

I remember this one time, there was this middle eastern couple, seeking refuge. But nobody would let them in, guess they wanted to provide aid where they were, keep them as far away from their own people as possible. And that's the story of how Jesus Christ was born in a stable with a donkey for company.

Anonymous said...


You mean the Proconsul of Judea would not allow Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem to be counted and thus taxed? Nice try with the revisionist history but you should really try harder.

Peter said...

@m4: There's another side to that. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? He took the injured man to an inn, where he paid for his room and board, and for the services of a doctor; but he didn't take him back to Samaria with him. We can be as caring and giving as we need to be, without endangering our own societies by paying no attention to the obvious risks involved.

Bibliotheca Servare said...

Oh ewwwwwww! Ew! *shudders* Again: eww. Blech... Fingernail-crud contaminated candy... Aside from that horrible visual, excellent point.

Brain Bleach time!

Anonymous said...

Peter writes, "How many senior members of the present Administration come from anything other than urban backgrounds?"

I don't know but I am guessing perhaps more than you think. If you look at high-income families with small kids, they move out from the center of town, past the suburbs, to a rural setting (but still within commuting distance of hubby's place of work) so that the children can benefit from clean air, unspoilt nature, and join activities like 4H.

shugyosha said...

Regarding the stable birth (which is one of two options in the Gospels, the other being Natzareth... and man did that stir some people some years back when Rome used that version for their Nativity scene)...

Regarding that scene, the local (Catholic) Bible studies group was working with the idea that a mother about to deliver was better kept in isolation in a warm place. It does offend our "surgical" sensibilities some but it did allow Mary for some privacy, cheap warmth... Imagine the same birth in the highest tower of a castle.

Take care.

Inconsiderate Bastard said...

@ Shugyosha - RE: Town of Castle Rock vs. Gonzales.....research "Warren, et al, vs. the District of Columbia, 1976.

That's the early case in which it was ruled by a three judge federal appellate court that law enforcement agencies have no obligation to provide police services to individuals but only in a general manner to the community at large, and hence, cannot be held liable by individuals. SCOTUS denied cert in Warren so that appellate decision stands as Law of the Land. I haven't read Castle Rock but I'd bet the decision references Warren.

m4 said...

@Peter: While that's true, he did do everything in his power to ensure the man was safe. He put his own neck on the line; something you're clearly unwilling to do. What you're saying is that we should turn away people from our borders and send them back into a warzone, that we should send money to warlords and corrupt government officials, send money to only slightly less corrupt aid agencies to buy aid that then has to be distributed by aid workers who get kidnapped and murdered, that we should drop more bombs, possibly even get boots on the ground. Yet even if all of the above eventually does solve the problems over there, it won't be before thousands more are dead.

I can't solve any of the problems in Syria, but I could provide shelter for a man, woman or child in need.

Peter said...

@m4: You persist in misunderstanding me.

1. I am not saying we should send people back into a war zone. Instead, I believe we should create a safe area at the edge of that zone where refugees can find secure shelter, food, etc. We've done that many times, in many places. It would be nothing new to do the same in Syria.

2. I'm not saying we should send money to warlords, corrupt government officials, or whatever. There are good agencies out there. Let's use their services, fund them, and make sure the job is done properly. Again, we've done this many times in the past.

3. Thousands more are going to die in any event. Nothing we can do will change that. As a matter of fact, when we've had opportunities to prevent that (e.g. the slaughter of Yazidis in Iraq), we've deliberately turned our backs and allowed the slaughter to continue. It's a blot on our humanitarian record that will take a long, long time to fade.

4. I repeat: one can help (as the Good Samaritan did) without necessarily putting one's family or home at risk. I see every reason to do the former, but no reason to do the latter. If your mileage varies on that, good for you; but having seen "up close and personal" what such help can involve (see my numerous posts about South Africa), I'll keep my family and home as safe and secure as I can.

Rolf said...

Yes, the disconnect from the natural world can be startling when you meet it face to face. I had that one time with a HS student who didn't know pork came from pigs. (Don't remember how they said the conversation started, but I walked in on it "in progress," with the ignorant young lady on one side, and three incredulous classmates of hers on the other). They were trying to explain the rudiments of a food production system they themselves barely understood. The idea of animal muscle tissue = meat (it was a bio class) she just didn't *want* to understand. One the the boys starting to mock her ignorance when talking about veal wasn't exactly helping her comprehension skills any, either. When asked why farmers had cows and picks and chickens, her heart-felt answer was "pets!" Nice enough, but nearly special-ed IQ and ignorant as a pi kilogram-pound sack of left-handed nails.

Glad I'm not teaching in that district any more.

JohninMd.(Help?!??) said...

Never underestimate the power of human ignorance, esp. In large groups......