Op-Ed: The AP Doesn’t Think Much of Hoosiers
by Leo Morris
The Associated Press had an astonishing story this week about what awful, horrible people Hoosiers are.
Apparently, we resist change, which means we are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic monsters who should just crawl back into the primordial slime and let civilized people get on with the job of perfecting the world.
If Indiana is to compete successfully in a global economy, the article begins, quoting Gov. Eric Holcomb’s sensible observation, it can’t succumb to isolationism: “Digging a moat around yourself, filling it and saying, ‘We’re good,’ would be to retreat from not just competing, but having the opportunity to win.”
Fair enough. Capital will go where it can be the most productive, so we might as well get used to companies crossing the oceans, both ways. Economics will trump geography, and we will all be better off in the long run.
But having discovered the magic formula that all change is good and all resistance incomprehensible and indefensible, the writer embarks on a loopy, progressive tour of Indiana history designed to reveal the ignorant Hoosier bigot under every rock.
Hoosiers being upset at Subaru coming to Indiana — it got notorious nativist Evan Bayh elected governor, you know – is equated with:
- Hoosiers in the 1920s “anxious about” immigrants and loose Jazz Age morals “fanning a surge” in Ku Klux Klan membership. Really? Moral traditionalists and racial fanatics were the same group of people?
- Indiana just two years ago creating a legal defense fund for “business owners opposed to serving gay people,” Honestly? Wasn’t the issue more about people being forced to cater gay weddings over their religious objections? Isn’t there a difference, and isn’t it just a bit dishonest to blur the distinction?
- Gov. Holcomb this year signing laws targeting “immigrants and abortion rights.” Actually, the law “targeted” people who came to this country illegally, and the opposite of “abortion rights” is “rights of the unborn.” But a respect for borders and life are values that have defined us for generations, so obviously they must be changed.
Just in case we’ve missed the point, the author then throws in a couple of paragraphs about Hoosier workers being too unskilled for “the jobs of the future” and thus unprepared for a change as big as the move from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. We’ve been so busy foolishly resisting the changes coming at us that we have failed to educate ourselves to deal with the changes. For shame, for shame.
But perhaps it’s not completely our fault. Our ignorant nostalgia for the past and despicable hostility to foreign trade, after all, are magnified by the “powerful political currents that helped elect President Donald Trump.”
You remember those currents. They were created by millions of ordinary Americans — including ignorant, backward Hoosiers — who were sick and tired of being vilified and condescended to by a cadre of snotty elites who detest them and everything they stand for.
“Change,” it should not need to be pointed out, is a neutral value, so we are free to promote beneficial change and block harmful change, and we need to be wise enough to know the difference. Thoughtful conservatives do not resist change just because it is new. We merely seek to hold on to what has worked as a foundation for our untried innovations. Thoughtful progressives, it is hoped, do not seek change merely because it is new. Change that is not a careful addition to what we already have is not “progress” but a recipe for disaster.
Those who worship change for change’s sake are as misguided as those who resist change merely for tradition’s sake — and in the long run, they are far more dangerous.
Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is a veteran of 40 years in Indiana journalism. As opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Morris was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.