But it’s not just what football means to us that fuels the passion we have for it. It’s that football opens up doors for explaining ourselves to other Americans and, perhaps more important, being recognized by them as equals. We believe our way of life is beautiful and we want others to agree with us. Unfortunately, the rest of the nation seldom recognizes these traits in us, choosing rather to focus on the social conservatism that still marks my state as well as the perceived backwardness of our culture. Ask a Nebraskan who spends much time on either coast and they’ve likely heard some variation of the “do you guys have electricity?” joke. If we show up in popular culture at all, it’s more likely to be in a Saul Goodman joke on Breaking Bad or as the butt end of a crack about “fly over country.” Mother Jones had a great time mocking one small town that allowed students to have guns in their senior pictures, showing a disappointing but not at all surprising ignorance of midwestern life in the process. And when we show up in bigger periodicals like the New York Times, it’s invariably in something like Mary Pipher’s condescending op ed about how Nebraskans need progressives like her to save us from all those barbaric conservatives and their aforementioned guns. As Wendell Berry noted over twenty years ago, the operative rhetorical principle in social elite circles seems to be that if you are polite in your comments about preferred social minorities you have license to say anything you want about poor people, country people, farmers, uneducated people, and so on. It’s hard to separate that basic insight from the sneering coverage of my home in places like Mother Jones and the New York Times.
Read more by Jake Meador at Fare Forward