Feature

The myth of small-town superiority

The only snobbery Americans will tolerate is reverse snobbery, said Steve Chapman in <em>Chicago Tribune, </em>which is why Sarah Palin is getting away with trumpeting rural America over urban America.

Steve ChapmanChicago Tribune

“Americans disdain snobbery in all its forms except the most popular one: reverse snobbery,” said Steve Chapman. That’s why Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin repeatedly gets away with implying that small-town and rural Americans are more honest, more hard-working, and generally better than those lazy, lying scoundrels who live in big, bad cities. “The myth of rural virtue and urban vice is an old one in this country,” but the facts show that it is just that—a myth. Studies have found, for example, that eighth-graders who live in rural areas were 26 percent more likely to experiment with drugs than those in middle schools elsewhere, and that there’s far more alcohol use among teens in “the country,” too. Methamphetamine use among both adults and teens is 50 percent higher in small-town America. Many rural states have higher rates of out-of-wedlock births than such urbanized states as New Jersey and California. Four out of five Americans choose to live in cities and their suburbs, and there has to be some reason for that. Americans will tolerate and even applaud lectures about the moral superiority of small towns—“as long as they don’t have to live in one.”

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