The Lingering Problem of Local Exceptionalism

A common error in small rural communities is the persistent, false claim that local officials are examples of a local exceptionalism that makes them implicitly immune from the flaws and mistakes that beset the rest of humanity. Under this thinking, while there may be problems in the wider world, there are no local examples of these problems, so our officials, our city government, our school district, and our university have no or precious few of the natural failings of seven billion other people living outside the community.

This is charitably seen as a child-like naïveté, and more realistically as an expression of (sinful) local pride.

The champions of Old Whitewater (a state of mind rather than a single person) have mostly held to the idea of local exceptionalism. Simply replacing older adherents of a false view with younger adherents of the same ludicrous notion does not elevate the view — it debases the younger adherents.

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3 years ago

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