This Is My Home
Why election coverage of Nebraska irked a Nebraska native.
If Nebraska makes national news, it usually means a tragedy has occurred. For being the center of the country, Nebraska is far from the center of attention. Yet, in the 2020 election, Nebraska became briefly notable. A blood-red stronghold in previous elections, though the state does allow split electoral votes. This election was a bit different. Four electoral votes went to President Trump; one went to President-Elect Joeseph Biden. This rocketed Nebraska from obscurity to brief novelty for the press.
I’ve lived in Nebraska for the past ten years. So, seeing my home discussed on a national stage was exciting. As a religious consumer of NPR and the New York Times, having them feature the limited Omaha skyline was a spark of home while I was at school. But then I read the articles.
You’re Talking About Me
Though I am not from rural Nebraska, it is a part of my life. Both my mother’s and my father’s family originates from the farmland of Western Nebraska before moving to the eastern cities. Their families maintain farms there that we visit yearly. My dad and brother still go in the spring to help with calving season. More importantly, these people are people I love.
I was not unaware of the liberal-leaning of the New York Times. As a conservative, I can largely ignore it, absorbing the facts and allowing the biased comments to trickle away into oblivion. But reading about my home, the people interviewed resembling my family. The bias bothered me. There was never anything outrightly insulting, but the tone consistently rubbed me wrong.
Dionne Searcy is a politics reporter for the New York Times. She is seemingly assigned to cover Nebraska during the election season. She’s from Nebraska and a graduate of the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Yet, it was her commentary that bothered me. Her jobs before the New York Times range from the Chicago Tribune to the Wall Street Journal. This leads me to believe that she did not continue to reside in Nebraska after college.
It would perhaps be less offensive for these articles to be written by an outsider, but they’re not. These uncharitable pieces tinged with condescension are written by someone who completed their education here and lived here.
What are you really saying here?
Searcy depicts resigned Trump voters in rural Nebraska, along with a few afraid of China encroaching on their freedom, as well as passionate triumphant Democrats in Omaha. The issue came for me the subtle differences in the language she uses to describe each group. The Republican congressman Don Bacon “attacks” opponent Kara Eastman calling her things such as a “radical socialist.” No information is given on the things Kara Eastman said about Don Bacon over the past two election cycles she has run against him.
There are details that are not fleshed out that lead an outsider reader to a different conclusion.
“In Omaha, protests turned violent when a white bar owner shot to death a Black man in June during one of the marches over racial injustice.”
This is all the information given. Yet this case was ruled ‘self-defense’ by County Attorney Don Kleine. Though the case is being re-reviewed, the white bar owner in question has already committed suicide over the matter.
Certain sentences, while still correct, give a distinct impression that the fears Searcy observed are silly.
“Both were worried that if they gave their names to a reporter, liberals would track them down and destroy their homes.”
This Is My Home
This is my home, and I have a natural inclination to defend it. To defend my uncles and aunts and second cousins who live in rural areas and voted for Trump. Not because they are racist, not because they don’t care about other people, but because they care about the people around them. The people who grow the soybeans and corn President Trump engaged in a trade war for. The people who live harvest season to harvest season and keep guns in the house. The nearest police station is perhaps 30 miles away.
From the outside looking in or even someone who was once on the inside, I can see how you see us as conspiracy theorists spreading misinformation on Facebook. But I raise you, have you ever sat down and talked to us to see if that is true, or did you poke at the surface hoping to confirm your suspicions?