Iowa professor blasts state as 'politically schizophrenic,' 'culturally challenged'

Bloom points to 'unsettling truths,' but critics say article reinforces negative stereotypes

Stephen G. Bloom
Stephen G. Bloom

A University of Iowa professor blasted the state of Iowa in a recent article published on The Atlantic's Web site.

The article, Observations from 20 Years of Iowa Life, written by UI journalism professor Stephen Bloom, takes multiple cracks at Iowa life and culture.

He calls the state “politically schizophrenic, economically depressed, and culturally challenged."  Bloom, currently teaching as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, questions Iowa’s role as first in the nation in the presidential nominating process, noting the state’s lack of diversity and declining population.

But some say the article goes too far emphasizing what might be considered Iowa stereotypes.

One section describes people who stay in rural Iowa as most often,"the elderly waiting to die, those too timid to peer around the bend for better opportunities, an assortment of waste-toids and meth addicts with pale skin and rotted teeth."

In a written statement, Bloom defended his article, saying, "This lengthy story asks readers to think about the long-term future of the state of Iowa. It raises uncomfortable truths that are rarely discussed, but truths that absolutely need to be discussed."

Bloom is also well-known for his controversial book on the Postville Immigration raids in 2008.  He acknowledges that book also received criticism.“The issues I raised -- about undocumented workers, pollution, unsafe working conditions, sexual abuse, financial irregularities -- all have proven true,” Bloom wrote.  “Similarly, I ask Iowans to read this article and think about the unsettling truths it contains.”

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