LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — For 20 years, off and on, I’ve lived in this small, blue-collar town about 30 minutes west of Cincinnati. My grandparents, immigrants from Germany, bought my old farmhouse, on 15 acres, during World War II. I’ve always felt that this town embodies much of what I love about the Midwest: friendliness, a lack of pretension and a prevailing sense of decency among neighbors.
A few weeks ago, I met up with a good friend, an 84-year-old retiree named Frank, who lives nearby. He told me that he’d put up a “Biden-Harris” lawn sign, and within 36 hours it had been stolen. In response, his girlfriend taped another sign to the inside of their ranch home’s front window. Frank immediately took it down. “The chair I like to sit in is right there,” he explained. “The next time they come, I’m afraid it might be a brick, or a bullet.” Just a few years ago, I would have said that Frank was overreacting. Now I’m not so sure.
Over the past four years, my hometown has become radicalized. This is a loaded word, but it’s the only way to describe it.
As recently as 2008, I saw Bill Clinton speak at our community center, where the crowd was so large that people had to listen to him from loudspeakers in a nearby firehouse. The mood was electric. “People are broke at the end of every month,” he said. “This has to change.” He promised that with Democratic leadership, it would. An aggressive new energy policy would bring jobs, with higher incomes.
And this promise was very welcome. At the time, the best job I could find was at a call center, selling home security systems. But I felt hopeful. I stuck an Obama sign in my yard and a campaign bumper sticker on my old Corolla. Like a lot of my neighbors, I believed that Democrats would, in fact, improve the town’s fortunes, and on election night, Barack Obama carried the state.
But things didn’t improve. Not really. The latest census reportsmedian household income in Lawrenceburg as $30,735, with a little over 32 percent of us in poverty. And in 2014, according to The New York Times, our small county (which is over 97 percent white) sent more people to prison than San Francisco. In January, our hospital cited a “higher number of uninsured patients” as a reason it needed to “right-size” its work force by laying off 31 employees and eliminating behavioral health services.
And there are darker omens. Last fall, my teenage nephew came running into the house, wide-eyed, saying he’d found a human skull in the woods. I followed him until, panting at the bottom of a ravine, I saw the skull trapped in a thicket of sticks and leaves, missing several of its front teeth. The police arrived, and for the rest of the night, I watched from my bedroom window as flashlights swept over the long grass, through the woods, until they were finally swallowed by darkness.
It was an overdose, an officer told me later, the victim most likely another casualty of the nation’s opioid epidemic. (In 2017, in this county, there were 80 opioid prescriptions for every 100 residents.) The young man seemed to have died higher up on the hill, where they found more of his remains. The rain must have washed his skull down the slope.
The skull felt like a portent, but also a turning point. Months later, I noticed a vendor at a roadside stand selling Trump flags. “Trump 2020: Keep America Great,” one read. Another read “Trump 2020: No More [Expletive].” It was more than half a year away from the election, and I remember thinking: Why flags? A flag was something people fought under, and for; something people carried to war. By the summer, another vendor popped up selling flags with even bolder slogans like “Trump 2020: [Expletive] Your Feelings,” “Liberty or Die,” “Make Liberals Cry Again.” The economy was in the dumps but the flag business was booming.
And not just Trump flags. In the past few months, I have seen three Confederate flags hoisted in neighbors’ yards, where previously I’d seen none. Just a few weeks ago, two masked men appeared outside our high school, holding a large KKK flag and fliers, apparently scouting for young recruits.
At times, all of this has felt like a horror movie, where it starts off happily enough — in a sun-drenched, idyllic farmhouse — and then the darkness slowly takes over. The change has occurred so slowly that at times, I hardly noticed it, until one day I barely recognized my hometown.
Last week, I drove down for a closer look at the nearest Trump stand, where alongside the flags hung Trump T-shirts. One read, “I’m a Deplorable.” And it reminded me of my grandparents, of how they felt while still in Germany: willing to work as hard as anyone but seeing no way to improve their circumstances. In my more charitable moments, I can see my neighbors’ xenophobia and racism and their Trump-loving thuggishness as symptoms of alienation from people who feel forsaken and disdained. This is, perhaps, the part of me that still feels deeply connected to where I live. But I’ve been appalled by the ugliness I’ve seen here this past year. And more often, in the dwindling autumn light, I find myself staring at my grandparents’ old farmhouse and wondering if it’s finally time to pack my bags.
He should move when they start looting and burning.. But so far, that just seems be coming from the radicalized left so he's probably safe.
was this written by some sobbing millennial on msnbc? Holy cow if this isn't fiction I will be surprised. And guess what? I really do live far away from most sobbing libs in a very happy Indiana.
Thanks much joj!
These are actually the kind of views that we appreciate the most here because we will usually not get them outside of you.
And this is what we want!
I noted the source of the story was missing. We need to have that, so I will provide it here for you:
The change has occurred so slowly that at times I hardly noticed it.
By Brian Groh
Regarding this particular location, turns out that there are several of us that live in rurual Indiana, including mcfarm who has lived his entire life there?, a few counties northwest of this location. He's has already commented and I would appreciate any more comments from him based on his 70 years? of real world observations on what its like for him living in small town Indiana today.
I will wait on cutworms comments before making any about my small Indiana town because cutworm lives in the county next to Lawrenceburg, where the author of this article lives. Can't get much closer than that.
mcfarm and cutworm,
Did you grow up in these Indiana rural locations?
I grew up in Detroit and visit Detroit half a dozen times a year and have a unique perspective that compares rurual America with urban America today but again, will wait on cutworm if he is available.
For reference, the author of this letter is from Dearborn County, in Southeast IN. cutworm is from Franklin county, just above it, mcfarm is from Shelby country a few counties northwest and I'm living in(but did not grow up in Vanderburgh County on outskirts of Evansville in Southwest IN.
Here is a list of cities in Indiana, ranked by size.
This guy lives in the 90th biggest city, Lawrenceburg, which is quite a bit smaller than our Evansville at #3, although I live outside the city proper limits and have numerous contacts with people and conditions from the rural settings.
mcfarm and cutworm surely live in a much more rural setting, that might be closer to Lawrenceburg, maybe even smaller?
When I moved here from Detroit, I thought of Evansville as a tiny, red neck city(I called it Evans-patch)..............and it was, compared to where I came from.
Funny how experiences can change your perspective on many things.
I sent cutworm an email and we'll see if he responds. If not in the next day, I'll chime in.
hows this for the radicalized right... i have a friend who absolutely hates donald trump.
i think maybe this week i will go get a trump sign and put it in his front yard ;-)
In response let me first say that at first glance that I thought that this was written by JOJ. Is that plagiarism, to not give credit?
Any way I diverge. I grew up just 3 miles into Ohio from Franklin county Indiana where I now live. Close to Dearborn county. And our foundation business does a lot of houses in Dearborn county.
Some of my closest friends here are democrats. This is a very conservative area. Even the Dems don’t like the “squad”.
We don’t like being called ‘Deplorable” but how do we deal with it? We buy a t-shirt mockingly saying, “I’m a Deplorable”. We don’t go loot and burn down a Wendy’s. After all we still need to eat.
The BLM had 3 or 6 , I can’t remember, (and most probably from out of town because no one knew who they were), protesters protest in front of the courthouse. It lasted 1 day. Not very popular here. Let me say here that while we are mostly Caucasians, there are 2 families that have black children at my church.
As for the Confederate flags. I do not believe that these people are raciest but that they are anti federal government. They want their rights i.e. guns the right to be heard, all rights not specifically given to the federal government are given to the states.
“Just a few weeks ago, two masked men appeared outside our high school, holding a large KKK flag and fliers, apparently scouting for young recruits.” Yes outsiders sometimes come to small towns ,just as well as the big cities, to work their evil. I remember a cross burning in the early 80's from a farmer being put out of business. I remember how appalled and upset the vast majority of people here were. That ( edit I meant that the cross burner) has long gone away. Thankfully. It was 1 bad apple that did not represent the rest of us.
There is a drug epidemic in the country as well as in the city’s. Law enforcement here thinks that the drugs come across the southern boarder. This is an evil.
As far as the economy we are doing well. Only a minority want to close things down. The majority want to keep it open. Elementary schools here are open and seem to be doing fine. This area was hit hard from the CCP virus last march. But with a flash flood that killed 6 people that same month, I realize that you can die from lots of things. Even poverty.
Most people here look at the policies of the candidate. Not hung up on personality traits. (I personally believe that if you are going to try trump like policies you have to have a leader like General George Patton. A man for the job but not well liked. But I digress.)
Since I’m on my soap box I believe it is not charitable to be an enabler or ‘socially correct’
As for the fear of a brick in his window this is what I say. My mother was chased by a dog when she was small and has an enormous fear of dogs to this day. 80 years later. Also not to condone the theft of the sign but most likely it was stolen to put up in some Trump supporter’s yard as teenage prank.
As for the 2008 election it is true that Obama narrowly won the state but this area supported a very week John Mcain.
Cut worm has inspired me to make a couple "soap box" statements of my own.
General Patton was kept under wraps during WW 2 more than he liked. He apparently had a flaw which allowed him to "see only forward".He disregarded the theory of commanders needing to protect their flanks and rears from assaults.
I guess a great offense is the best defense was more his mantra-surely dangerous and irresponsible most often,but there are times when exactly that is Most responsible and thats when they brought him on board-smart guys up top. Trump seems to be more of that school than not.
Next is something I gleaned having spent my college years and some in the South. The Confederate identification,I'm convinced, is more a "Regional Pride" thing than anything else-and I'd choose to take my chances in a foxhole next to a good ole boy than next to an ivy league grad.
And thats the way I see it.
Massive thanks for the wonderful comments and also start to this thread by joj. One of the best ever!
I need to do some things before going to a trash pickup day event organized by my son(who moved back from CO last year and lives in the city) at the Howell Wetlands here in Evansville IN and will make my comments on the big contrasts and some similarities that I see between rural IN and Detroit later today.
Additional comments from others would be great.
I'll pass on comments from my very liberal 30 year old son(Bernie Sanders supporter) that moved back here temporarily from CO, who views things quite differently on the political environment.........probably closer to the author of the letter in the first post.
John said, 'Next is something I gleaned having spent my college years and some in the South. The Confederate identification, I'm convinced, is more a "Regional Pride" thing than anything else"
I totally agree well said.
very enlightening comments. Thanks to all
When I moved here in 1982, I had spent 6 months working for a private weather service/tv station in Cincinnati(WLWT-cutworm knows it) and previous to that, went to the most liberal college in the US at the time, University of Michigan, after being raised in Detroit.
So it was culture shock. Especially since the tv station I worked for as chief meteorologist was located in Henderson KY, a very tiny town, where I got an apartment, got my groceries/did my laundry......etc.
One of my first observations was that when the red light turned green, if a car didn't move within a few seconds, cars behind them were not honking their horns right away, like back home. Traffic also moved much slower....so it took longer to get places.
As somebody with a very liberal, city dwelling mind, and aggressive personality, this was actually not a good thing.
At the same time, I was very surprised at how friendly people were. I was sort of an anomaly back home, constantly saying hi to strangers at places like the grocery store and sometimes not getting a great response back. It was rare for a stranger to say hi to me but in Henderson, at the laundry mat and grocery store, I initially thought that people must know me from tv already when they were so friendly from the get go but they were just friendly/nicer to everyone compared to Detroit.
I noted there were no local professional sports teams to follow here(and I missed greatly) and was blown away at how, instead, everybody follows high school football and basketball closer than we did the Lions or Tigers or Pistons in Detroit.
This was before the internet and I missed my Detroit area sports coverage as well as other city things.
It was sort of a culture shock and I didn't like it at the time. Signing a 3 year contract in Sept 1982, seemed like a tough commitment and I couldn't wait to move on to a bigger city in 1985.
I shared an office with Bill Weber, who eventually moved up to ESPN sports and other good things. He was from the NY area and had the same mentality as I did but he really hated it there and made it clear constantly. I could always enjoy myself, what ever the situation but Bill referred to all the locals as "hayseeds" and used other unkind words.
He wanted out ASAP. Many of the other people at the station were liberals from other cities, often big cities and their mentality was different than many of the people we broadcast the news to. But back then, they kept their personal belief system and political belief separate from their professional, mostly objective broadcasting.
Some of them, that had been working there awhile, knew that I was from Detroit and they were telling me about this local town, Jasper IN, that in 1982, was like going back in a time machine to the deep south during the days of lynching and cross burning.
They told me about how one of our local high school basketball teams, Bosse, that had mostly black players(and students) went to play in Jasper and the bus got pelted with big rocks that broke out many of the windows. There were other stories like that about Dubois county but it didn't happen while I was there.
I just thought they were exaggerating.
During my 11 years at the tv station, I went to over 100 schools to talk to kids that had been studying weather in their science class. I got to meet some great kids and faculty and have nothing but positive things to say about each visit.
But in 1983, I was invited to speak to a group of 5th graders at a Jasper Elementary school. I still had not witnessed any displays of racism personally but had only been there less than a year...............and I wasn't looking for it. I did my usual 30 minute talk to the kids about weather and being on tv and opened it up to questions.
Got a couple of typical questions, like "what is it like being on tv" and "what was the most embarrassing thing you ever did on tv" then the 3rd kid, a boy asked me the only question that I can still remember today, 37 years later:
He asked "Are there any n_____s that work at the tv station. I was shocked and more so from the fact that he didn't say it to be funny or get attention, because not one kid laughed and the teacher said nothing. He was using language that was perfectly acceptable.
Wow, what they told me about Jasper was right.
I responded back "We don't refer to them using that word, but we do have 3 African American men, otherwise known as black men..........Lameer Price, Alan Lee and Aaron Thomas that work there" Then I described their jobs and we went on for another 30 minutes answering appropriate questions.
In defense of Jasper today, though I'm sure there are still more racists there than most other places in IN, they have evolved and I never hear of incidents like this anymore..............4 decades later.
So in 1984, I met and fell in love with my wife. Her entire family lives here. We married before my 3 year contract was up but now I had roots in Evansville. During that time, I grew to like country people more and more and while still visiting Detroit at least twice a year, appreciate the benefits to country life vs city life.
People are MUCH more friendly and respectful. There is less crime. There isn't nearly as much to do on the town or socially but that's not something I care about.
We have a serious drug problem here for sure, though I don't know how it stacks up with Detroit or other big cities. I don't think drug addiction favors one party or the other.
There is no doubt that that this is Trump country vs Detroit that is Biden country.
My Dad's neighbors on both side are Muslims. One, Frank has a Biden sign in his yard. I had a nice discussion with him earlier this month about politics. His family is vehemently against Trump because they are from Palestine and can't understand why any Muslim, anywhere would ever vote for Trump, though he knows several of them. I told him my views and why I will be voting for Trump but completely respect and understand his.
He and his family and all the families in my Dad's neighborhood(where his house still is-he is in assisted living) are very nice people, with a high % of them being Muslim.
The neighbor on the other side has a huge American Flag on their house but no political signs.
Betcha this is one of those for Trump Muslims!
Speaking of signs.
Told this one several times already here.
My wife came home last month from her 30 minute drive from work and noted that she saw numerous Biden signs but no Trump signs. Then, she added that she saw at least as many American flags on properties that did NOT have the Biden signs. She said, "those are all the Trump supporters and they are probably afraid of what might happen it they put a Trump sign in front of their house"
So in this conservative county, people are putting up Biden signs with no concern of backlash but appear to be apprehensive of putting up Trump signs..............at least based on one anecdotal report from a Trump supporter that could be biased.
And I would venture to guess that the author of the letter to the NYT is a liberal living in a very conservative county that is expressing his views thru the eyes of somebody that interprets things quite subjectively.
Based on my experiences(other than Jasper in 1983) and our other 2 IN residents, it doesn't appear to match up with his views.
Forgot to mention.
15 years ago, my daughter met a black man in Indianapolis and got pregnant. She wanted to move back to Evansville so that her dad(me could take care of the baby vs childcare).
He was on his way to being very accomplished in hotel management and gave up his career to move down here for her. He converted to our faith, Catholic and is known as "the black man at our church". He is like a celebrity and everybody that ever meets him loves him.
His family on both side is wonderful and we love them to pieces.
He now has a terrific job in management in the electroplating business(my wife got him started). We have 3 grandkids and he told me he's not once heard about a racial incident involving them.
I've coached 3,500 kids at chess and have never witnessed an issue involving race. Lot's of issues, because these are kids but not once having to do with race.
I visit my Dad in Detroit numerous times each year. The time before this last visit, in August, I forgot the mouse for my laptop and had to buy a new one.
I figured that the Target in Inkster would probably have one and it was in between Dads house and the assisted living facility he's at.
Never thought for a moment about crime or safety or related issues. When you are from Detroit, you are not afraid of Detroit.
So I go into the Target and am the only white person in the store. Maybe a person raised in rural, white America would really notice this but its mostly the situation when I shop at the Walmart and some other stores.
Inkster is known to have a pretty high crime rate but again, so what. Maybe since I'm getting older, I should think more about stuff like that but this is Detroit and I need a mouse and the chances of something happening are still tiny, even though it's getting close to 10pm and near closing.
I search in the electronics for 10 minutes and can't find a mouse, so I ask a black girl with a Target badge in electronics and she says rudely, "I'm off the clock!" and walks right by me.
Since there is nobody else there, I went outside that department and found another (Muslim) Target girl, who says "Let me take care of this other customer first, then I'll help you" She walks off and I don't see her again, after waiting 10 minutes.
Then I go up front to where a black young man/greeter is at the front door and he says that he has no idea and I need to talk to somebody in electronics.
I go back to electronics again. There are no Target employees there, so I look myself again and find no mouse. I leave being very disappointed knowing that I have to spend another half day without a mouse and could have found one at some other place, like Walmart........that was closed.
I didn't think "dang Muslims" or "dang Blacks" but I really did think "glad I live in a small city in Indiana where customers and people are not disrespected like this"
Race had nothing to do with it but that's just the way it is for many people living in Detroit and its NOT that way for most people living in small town Indiana.
I found a mouse right away at a Walmart in Dearborn the next day.
When I'm in Detroit, I listen to NPR the entire time that I'm there on the car radio.
Have commented on this before. Why is that my only station, especially in light of the comments I'm about to make?
I grew up pretty liberal and especially enjoyed and was part of the intellectual liberal community of Ann Arbor, where I went to college.
NPR reminds me of those days and I have wonderful/fond memories.
NPR today is still loaded with extraordinarily gifted communicators as well as highly educated intellectuals. If they had one common theme in all of their programming, I would say its "save the planet" or "make the world a better place"
I appreciate this mentality a great deal which gives me(and the others listening) a good feeling when we listen to their programming because we feel like we are being educated by really smart people about key issues that need to be addressed in the world.
Just the effective manner in which they communicate(as somebody in the communications business for over a decade) increases the enjoyment for me as I appreciate the talent.
But I have been around enough now in my 65 years, and educated about many things, especially in science but also other realms, like politics and see objective truths in some situations that no matter how you try to spin the lie, its a big fat lie.
NPR are the masters at spinning lies to make them sound like the truth and always to save the world or make it a better place. Thats what makes them so effective. You let down your guard of being skeptical because their motives are always altruistic. Nobody like that would lie to us. And most of them are probably smarter than me and some of the best communicators on the planet.
The only thing that I have going for me...............is that I know the truth from experience and from studying subjects using objectivity/open mindedness and skepticism of everything that I think I know until I can't prove myself wrong.....then, I know that I must be right.
So the main topic I'm referring to is climate change. It's mind boggling how people so dang smart and with access to so much data can broadcast nothing but "we are destroying the planet" stuff 100% of the time and never have 1 good thing to say about climate change............as the planet massively greens up around them, 15 times more people are still killed by cold and 200 times more life is still killed by cold compared to heat and there are many more benefits than detriments by a wide margin to global warming in this current climate optimum.
This, more than anything makes me grateful that I'm no longer a liberal intellectual from Ann Arbor MI, living in an imagined world and that I've chosen to live outside of a small city in Indiana compared to Detroit..........where there is only enough space between all the houses for a driveway to park your car and many of the people are rude and disrespectful.
We have plenty of rednecks in this county but I would prefer a friendly, honest redneck that respects other people to an intellectual that thinks they know it all and judges people that are not as smart as they think they are.
An amazing fact in this regard has to do with President Trump.
Some of the people that hate him the most because of his character flaws.............he is a bully/is mean is a narcissist and lies and is intolerant of views that disagree with him..................display some of those same traits when it comes to their thinking and actions regarding Donald Trump.
Weird that some of the people who act the least like President Trump in their personal lives............support him the most!
A lot of it has to do with politics of course but many of these people are not just brainwashed Trump worshipers like one side wants you to believe.
Many are able to overlook character flaws and to see thru fast talking, charismatic guys with silver tongues, making promises and sounding convincing to get your support/votes.
Regardless of all the other stuff, Trump's actions have been more consistent with his platform and promises than most politicians. I like Rand Paul for the same reason.
Some of these people supporting Trump are in fact radicals and obsessed with cult like support for him. There is no doubt that a powerful figure fighting the swamp and establishment is going to attract radicals from the right that are extreme. Trump is extreme in many ways.
But sometimes, being extreme is a good thing when the other choices are really bad....even if 95% of the world thinks your choice is the wrong one.
Trump pulling out of the Climate Accord was extraordinarily extreme. Almost the entire world condemned him for doing this really extreme thing and he is blasted constantly for it still.
joj has stated that he did it to undo Obama's achievement(s).
It was the right thing to do based on truth and authentic science. That's all that matters to me.
White supremacists and other like-minded groups have committed a majority of the terrorist attacks in the United States this year, according to a report by a security think tank that echoed warnings made by the Department of Homeland Security this month.
The report, published Thursday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, found that white supremacist groups were responsible for 41 of 61 “terrorist plots and attacks” in the first eight months of this year, or 67 percent.
The finding comes about two weeks after an annual assessment by the Department of Homeland Security warned that violent white supremacy was the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland” and that white supremacists were the most deadly among domestic terrorists in recent years.
The think tank researchers found that the threats of violence were linked in part to this year’s mass protests and confrontations with protesters from a variety of factions. The report said that “far-left and far-right violence was deeply intertwined” and that far-left groups, including anarchists and antifascist organizations, were responsible for 12 attacks and plots so far this year, or 20 percent of the total number, up from 8 percent in 2019.
I actually think that the number of attacks overall is still somewhat small in number.
Wonderful points joj,
And this report does show exactly what you stated!
Homeland Threat Assessment U.S. Department of Homeland Security With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values Homeland Threat AssessmentOctober 2020
metmike: The bar graph in the center below, represents the WSE's, White Supremacist Extremists. The feature that probably stands out the most is the blue. Those are the deaths. It tells us that some WSE attacks are pretty effective at killing people.
Like joj stated, the number of attacks for a huge country like this is not that huge....but it's significant and these particular attacks are often not just meant to symbolize a belief system with property damage and other results. I would be interested in seeing an actual list of each event to see how most of these events play out(not just the top worst ones).
Regardless, whether its just a few attacks that kill most of the people or not, they are dead from WSE attacks.
On a related note:
Offenses by Crime Category
|Among the 8,496 hate crime offenses reported:||Of the 6,266 known offenders:|
metmike: Not sure how to take this last state on race. 24% of the offendors were black but this is disproportionately HIGHER, almost double the 13% of the US population that is black.
This is saying that a black person is almost twice as likely to commit a hate crime than the other races.
We are also seeing a huge increase in violent crimes in big cities:
And in cops shot: