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Findlay Fights Back

By Jesse Taylor
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 15:50 EDT
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The Findlay Courier interviews the subjects of yesterday’s Washington Post article, and finds a lot of shock and surprise, and a lack of memory of what was in the story. It almost makes you feel sorry for the folks, until you read the paper’s editorial, which may as well be titled “Your Muslim Fears Our Wholesome Whitness”.

The Washington Post did a hit job on Findlay in its Monday edition. The story, “In Flag City USA, False Obama Rumors Are Flying,” holds up this city and in particular, a few older residents of College Street, as prototypes of the sort of ultra-conservative, racist ignorance that Sen. Barack Obama is sadly forced to battle in his quest for the White House.The Post article by Eli Saslow shows the local people he interviewed as white, working-class, flag-waving patriotic, xenophobic — and utterly opposed to change.

Saslow even catches a little (inadvertent, we suspect) support from Mayor Pete Sehnert, who said, “People in Findlay are kind of funny about change. They always want things the way they were, and any kind of development is always viewed as making things worse, a bad thing.”

Of course, Sehnert was likely talking about new business and residential developments like RiverPlace. But the Post just lets that quote dangle; “development” also means “advancement,” and while most Findlay people would understand what Sehnert meant, the rest of the country would just presume that the mayor was saying that his constituents are against progress — including and especially social progress.

Findlay: a place where we always understand what you’re obliquely referring to. Gotta figure out a way to shorten that for a placard.

Just in case you’re wondering, Saslow tells you “the truth” early on in his story: “Sen. Barack Obama, born in Hawaii, is a Christian family man with a track record of public service.” That’s certainly the line that the Democratic Party would like everyone to believe. But Obama’s record is more complex than that.

Let us again state unequivocally that while he has Muslim roots, Obama has declared himself a Christian and deserves to be believed. And until we read this story, we’d never even heard the “gay” rumor (give us a break, the guy has a bright, attractive wife and two children).

Let us state unequivocally that while we believe everything those e-mails say, Obama has said something different and we are more than willing to accept that he did that. Also, we shit flag pins and piss patriotism, and ask Barack Obama politely to clean our toilets.

However, we do seriously question the judgment and motives of a man who over a 20-year period listened on at least some occasions to the hate-filled and racist black liberation theology voiced by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger and others. Obama recently turned his back on Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, but surely it’s understandable that some Findlay residents may interpret that as an act of political expediency, leading them to question his sincerity in other matters.

Like, for instance, his love of buttsex with dudes.

As for the e-mails falsely purporting to show Obama’s lack of patriotism — they didn’t originate in this city and they’ve been flying all over the country. So why hold Findlay up to national ridicule?

Because you’re seriously considering them and proud of it? Because you’ve already shown that you’ve internalized significant portions of it? Because if your positions are ridiculous, they are, in fact, worthy of ridicule?

This approach to insidious and destructive beliefs is thankfully efficient, though. After all, once Lenin and Marx died, it was pretty pointless to worry about Communism after that.

We’re guessing it’s because this city is an easy mark. For some, the sobriquet “Flag City USA” is a red flag connoting the Midwestern conservatism that they fear could ultimately defeat Obama this November.

And, of course, we arrive at the paradox of the coastal elite media. On the one hand, there’s a constant reinforcement of the idea that heartland values are the values that drive this nation, the unimpeachable source of our nation’s pride and drive – simple, dichotomous right and wrong, clear values and a rocksteady view of the world. On the other hand, there’s the interaction with the firmest believers in said values, which is often embarrassing for all involved. This isn’t an indictment of a geographic region, or a race, or even a political persuasion; it’s about a mindset that leads to shameless, obstinate stupidity in the face of actual facts and common decency.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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