Red or blue, we can still be civil, tolerant

Football fans hold up red white and blue pom poms during the National Anthem in this 2013 photo at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)
Football fans hold up red white and blue pom poms during the National Anthem in this 2013 photo at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

In the July 2 Gazette, Leonard Pitts in his “The United States is anything but” expresses his displeasure with conservative Americans. He talks about secession in a general way.

He is not alone. On both sides, there is such talk. Fifteen states have filed for secession (Huffington Post, Nov. 26, 2012). Texas wants out (Inquisitor, Nov. 26, 2012), and California would like to strike out on its own (NBC, Nov. 10, 2016). It appears that we don’t like each other (The Gazette, May 2, 2013).

So? Internationally, diplomatically and perhaps in 20 other ways it would be a disaster.

By 2000, the networks finally decided to make red and blue states. The colors don’t make sense, since red is usually progressive and blue is conservative. However, our colors are reversed.

There is so much more about our country and the feelings we have for each other. However, let’s assume we live in roughly two countries. Thus, all of the following are by custom, not law.

I have dropped friends and relatives because any lengthy conversation means trouble. You don’t have to go to weddings, funerals and reunions, if you don’t want. You can be civil.

A neighbor across the street made off-putting remarks about the state of my birth and roots to another neighbor in our driveway. My wife and I stepped back and went into the house. How about that? That’s tolerant.

Assume the U.S. is a conservative, warrior country. If by color, we can divide the blue portions as less conservative from up by Bonners Ferry and Highway 395 in the northwest on the Washington-Idaho line. We then swerve down to San Diego and the Mexican border. We move east to Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and on to Maine and the Canadian border. We can’t contiguously get Colorado, and Iowa is now another red state. The rest of the country is red save the tip of Florida.


Of course it is all imaginary, but it does not mean you cannot identify with the country. You know where your people live and you can move about. There are over 310 million of us. You may be tolerant to your neighbor, but you can make friends electronically.

I sure miss purple.

• Joel Snell is professor emeritus of sociology from Kirkwood Community College



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