* Yet another rural safari by urban reporters…
The idea of secession has long simmered in Illinois’ more rural and Republican counties, periodically flaring up around issues such as raising the minimum wage, the establishment of sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants and gun ownership. And though Illinois’ secession movement — or, movements — isn’t exactly united, many who believe in the principle share a general sense of feeling underrepresented in a state dominated by Chicago’s Democratic stronghold.
The coronavirus outbreak, which has yet to touch some areas of the state, has become the most recent flashpoint, inspiring both serious promises to reintroduce secession on the ballot and Facebook memes that call for building a wall around Chicago.
* And ProPublica Illinois justifies this coverage with these stats…
That spider web, which he’s crafted to function as a sort of social media ecosystem of secession sentiment, includes “Illinois Separation,” a page Cliburn runs that has garnered nearly 27,000 Facebook likes; “Illinoyed,” a page for more general venting about the state, which has about 11,700 likes; and also dozens of county-level pages for local organizers. Lately, Cliburn said, he’s been using coronavirus news to bring attention to the effort to kick Chicago out of the state. […]
Another post, shared on the “Illinois Separation” page on March 25, shows an image of the state of Illinois with the Chicago-area blocked off with a line. “Make Illinois Great Again … build a wall !!” the graphic reads. Comments included individuals blaming Chicago for positive COVID-19 cases in their own counties and criticizing the shelter-in-place order in areas with few if any positive cases.
The post has nearly 800 likes and 400 shares.
Nearly 800 likes? Oh my. It’s a movement!
217 Problems has 103,583 followers. Where’s its big writeup?
* One of the “leaders” of the “movement,” Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) let the cat out of the bag in February…
But realistically, the House and the Senate, the state would have to pass it by a two-thirds margin and then it has to go to the federal, I mean, so it’s not gonna happen.
You find out sometimes when… you’re being a legislator that sometimes you can introduce a bill, then you get some attention.
* Also, the person profiled at the top of the ProPublica piece lives in Vermilion County, which is 13 percent African-American. These sorts of safaris almost always ignore those voices…
“Often the monolithic portrayal of rural America amounts to a whitewashing along racial lines,” [reporter Sarah Smarsh] said. “In fact, rural areas are much more racially diverse than one would think from reading national headlines. …Those parts of the country have always been much more than white people, and as we speak they are diversifying, in some places quite rapidly, often due to an influx in immigrant populations taking jobs in industries like industrial agriculture and meatpacking plants.
* Not to mention that these stories often usually wind up bringing ridicule on rural people in general…
Trump is not the president of just rural America. He won office because his message took root in coastal cities and suburbs, too. But national reporters found few occasions to explore the ascendant conservatism of these places. Consider Collier County, Florida, and McDowell County, West Virginia, two counties that voted heavily for Trump. Despite the fact that Collier County’s voter turnout was more than twice that of McDowell County, only the latter drew national attention. The wealthier, more suburban residents of Collier County did not inspire the derision of liberals—nor did they command the attention of conservatives, who were eager to pin Trump’s success to the reactionary yearnings of the mythologized heartland worker.
This selective interest in a particular type of Trump voter—and the synonymization of white conservatives with rural geographies—reinforced perceptions many onlookers already possessed. Location alters a place’s material needs and shapes the struggles of its inhabitants, but rurality does not make a community simple. To many consumers of the mainstream press, however, rural communities seem to be benighted places where the light of liberalism could not reach.