Iowans Respond to Stephen Bloom

By Garance Franke-Ruta

The University of Iowa professor's piece reflecting on 20 years in the Hawkeye state touched off a firestorm of criticism -- and praise.

Stephen G. Bloom's piece "Observations on 20 Years of Iowa Life" has elicited a huge array of online responses, from threats against the professor to letters of praise. Obviously, no one piece can encompass how life is lived by all the people of a state of more than three million, nor all the experiences one can have in such a state -- from West Liberty, Iowa's first majority-Latino town, to the lofts, shops and restaurants of the sophisticated neighborhoods of downtown Des Moines (and elsewhere, as detailed in this Atlantic crowd-sourced guide to the state), to the industrial decline of Keokuk (which I saw first-hand while traveling with John Edwards in 2007), to the beauty of driving I-80 on a summer night, when the twinkling of fireflies in the fields act as a striking counterpart to the stars that wheel above.

Atlantic social media editor Jared Keller has compiled excerpts from the conversation sparked by Bloom's piece, below:

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/12/iowans-respond-to-stephen-bloom/249991/