This morning, Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post scribe Kathleen Parker published a column complaining about her new life in New York City, where she has moved in order to more conveniently tape her new CNN program Parker/Spitzer. The Awl’s Choire Sicha and Slate’s Tom Scocca have already ably taken down the meat of her argument (that New York City is unpalatably similar to “Communist China” with its level of laws and regulations). But it’s hard to resist comment on this line of hers:
These are completely different orientations toward life in general and the role of government specifically, and I’m not sure the two can be reconciled. City dwellers will never understand the folks who prefer the company of trees, and country folk will always resent the imperious presumptions of urbanites who think they know best.
Wait, what about the imperious presumptions of non-urbanites who think they know best? How often a week — a day! — are New Yorkers told they are not real Americans? That the values the country needs to get back to exist on some fictional “Main Street,” which has no real geographical location except for being Definitely Not In New York City? Parker’s entire column is an example of that “imperious presumption.”
And look at the oversimplified, false parallel she makes to “country folk” (of course they are “folk” and city people are “dwellers”). Scocca notes, “Follow that parallel? City people don’t like country folk because country folk are fond of trees. Country people don’t like city folk because city folk are know-it-all snobs.” It is not a valid comparison, it’s just an insult put next to a compliment.
(In her “few weeks” in New York, Parker has obviously not visited a public park, or she would know that people here love the company of trees — so much so that they travel great distances sometimes to be in their proximity. It’s much easier to spend more time around trees when there is one in your backyard. Those of us who don’t have backyards have to prove our love.)
So, yes, Kathleen, the two attitudes you list cannot be “reconciled” — because, as you point out, without knowing us, “country folk” think that we “city dwellers” are pompous jerks.
Frankly, that sounds like their attitude problem, not ours.