A reader writes:
I was born, raised, and educated in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, an exemplary Whitopia. I grew up listening to Rush Limbaugh, watching Fox News and had a "Proud Member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" bumper sticker on my debate tub. I was lucky though. I did well enough in school to be eligible to attend one of those evil elite East Cost universities on scholarship. I defended Bush, idiotically, all the way until my senior year, when I studied abroad in both China and England. I was forced, over and over, by classmates and those I met in other countries to confront the grotesque neo-con mindset I had thought was so obviously right.
It took crossing both oceans, a comprehensive study of the history of religion and government, and four years of college to change my perspective. As someone who moved from one extreme to the other, I can tell you the one thing that saved me was the conservative impulse to be self critical, to avoid hubris and arrogance. The other was my parents teaching me to love science. My first break with Whitopia doctrine was when I argued with my church's youth group leader over the reality of evolution. That someone could deny something so obvious baffled me. It has been a slow and painful process since then, testing and retesting my beliefs.
I am now everything I grew up thinking I should hate:
I live in New York, go to NYU, and I study feminist and queer theory. I am horrified by the insane ramblings of Palin and the small government ideas she mutilates on a daily basis. I have lots of friends back in CDA, and lots of friends from high school who "got out." Those of use who escaped treat our home town as a place we love filled with people we don't understand or relate too. Most of us who "got out" are liberal or libertarian (I'm the latter). Most of us are deeply ashamed of how we used to view the world and, in many cases, how our friends and families still do.
If you really want know fear, all I can tell you is that Coeur d'Alene was downright progressive compared to the surrounding towns.
Keep hammering Palin. Those of use who grew up in Whitopia know her kind and understand how seductive her anti-logic can be. Thank you thank you thank you for exposing her.
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