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From East River grasslands to West River mountains, there is enough room in South Dakota for varying political perspectives — including  dissenting views. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.
From East River grasslands to West River mountains, there is enough room in South Dakota for varying political perspectives — including dissenting views. Photo by Bernie Hunhoff.

Love It or Leave It

Mar 21, 2012

I harbor no illusions that my interaction with the South Dakota blogosphere has been anything like a scientific investigation. I am no aloof observer shielded by the pretense of objectivity and passive voice. I participate. I advocate. I catch heck and often throw heck right back. 

Yet I have noticed a certain kind of heck that Lefties like me seem less inclined to throw than our Right-wing neighbors.  “Love it or leave it!” is one of the great red herrings of debate: you're losing on the merits of the argument, so you try to marginalize your opponent by marking him as a disloyal complainer. 

“Love it or leave it”: it's a cheap shot, available in any argument. It ignores that fact that love isn't a choice between ignoring problems or leaving the moment you bump into them. Love—of country, of brother, of life partner—is about saying to the people you love, “Hey, I see you've got something wrong there. What can we do to fix that?”

Yet on more than one occasion, when I have published criticism of economic development policies in my hometown of Madison, blog commenters have occasionally replied that I should move away from Madison. When I cite data on South Dakota's abysmal teaching salaries, commenters occasionally urge me to quit griping and move to Minnesota. On another issue, a reader called me “socialist scum” and warned, “We kicked you bastards out of this country once; it looks like we will have to do it again.” (I still can't figure out if this neighbor believed King George III was a Marxist or if he was just experiencing delirium from watching Red Dawn too many times.)

I get riled up in political arguments. Yet I don't think I've ever said to a conservative, “You don't belong in South Dakota.” I don't hear my fellow liberals in the South Dakota blogosphere making such excluding statements, either. Maybe we liberals simply express our exclusivity in some other way. But when I hear “love it or leave it,” I hear conservatives, not liberals, saying, “My home, my state, my country doesn't have room for dissent and difference.”

Telling someone to leave his homeland isn't just bad argumentation; it's downright unneighborly and un-South Dakotan. We have room in the public sphere for everyone. 


Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and is currently teaching French at Spearfish High School. A longtime country dweller, Cory is enjoying "urban" living with his family in Spearfish.

Comments

10:12 am - Wed, March 21 2012
Ed Goss said:
Cory, I was enjoying what you have written and think that's ok until I hit this, "I get riled up in political arguments. Yet I don't think I've ever said to a conservative, “You don't belong in South Dakota.” I don't hear my fellow liberals in the South Dakota blogosphere making such excluding statements, either."The part where you don't hear liberals making excluding statements. I tend to disagree with that part.
02:59 pm - Wed, March 21 2012
Ed, can you give me an example or two of the "exclusive" statements from liberals that you have in mind? I'd like to make sure we're talking about the same kind of exclusion.
06:38 am - Thu, March 22 2012
Bernie Hunhoff said:
Regardless of who says it - liberal or conservative or in between - it's just as wrong, not to say weak, as a point of argument.
09:38 am - Thu, March 22 2012
Ed Goss said:
Sure, Cory Just stop in for coffee when in western SD at 3 PM. I currently am in Az. and so is our the fellow I call the token liberal in our area. We have coffee together several times a week in SD and usually try to exchange a dinner invite when in Az.. Of coarse if you are talking blogoshere, I have know idea as I'm not into blogging. Don't even know where the sphere is. Hope this helps.
09:21 pm - Thu, March 22 2012
Heck, Ed, I'm in western SD right now! Get back up here, and bring that token liberal with you. Your token liberal and I should get together; maybe two of us could start a revolution! We promise to deport no one. :-)

I'll be happy to have coffee with you as well and hear your examples.
01:57 am - Wed, March 28 2012
Charlie Hoffman said:
30 years ago when a guy got in from checking heifers and could not get back to sleep a book or newsmagazine was all that was available to churn through the night. Now we have blogs and websites and email and online catalogs and more information than anyone can honestly use. What is truly neat about the information age is that though we have never met Cory I already feel I know you. That first cup of coffee somewhere West River is going to be the truth teller in my assumptions. Most of us get along just fine. The buttheads will always be here though and we need to figure out how to live with them. I'll leave the table thinking your nuts and you thinking I've lost my marbles. Flippin dizzy for sure but still with all marbles intact. :)

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