As a doctor, I’ve worked in many cultures, both in the USA and overseas.
One thing that drives me up the wall is when a novel or a news report gets theculture or customs wrong, whether it be giving the wrong medicine in CPR, havingthe Irish in Uris’ book Trinity act like they lived in modern Long Island, orthe Disney Channel Asia where Mulan acts like a valley girl.

This is why this NYTimes story about Idaho irritates me.

Now, I’m not up on Idaho politics. I presume the details of the Boise politicians part is true, and the irritation that the hard working voters feelat seeing their money spent on port sounds true to life. But his description ofIdaho is…well, I hate to say it, but it’s a fantasy.

The writer obviously never went anywhere but the airport, the hotel, and thestatehouse. (poor guy…guessed he missed the strip joints in Garden City).

So his description of Idaho is full ofcliches. Here’s the part that irritated me:


In a conservative state thathas long viewed government with suspicion, that still means conflict. But eventhe governor’s fellow Republicans concede that the momentum here shifted yearsago from bait-and-bullet to New West boutique. As with so many otherdecreasingly rugged places in the inland West, there is more of everybody inIdaho now: techies, Democrats, immigrants, environmentalists…

Excuse me. Farmers and ranchers have a long history of conservation, becausethey own the land and if you don’t take care of the land, you can’t leave it toyour children. Their care of the environment would put many jet setenvironmentalists to shame.

Immigrants? Duh. Who do you think picked the potatoes and worked the mines?Idaho is ten percent Hispanic. And a lot of people are second or thirdgeneration Irish and Italian–or don’t they count?
Did you know that Idaho has the largest Basque population in the USA, who cameto work as shepherds?

Democrats? Duh. Did you ever hear of Joe Hill?

Your story seems to be stuck in the myth that Idaho is full of rugged mountainmen who live alone off the land? (hate to tell you this, but even in the goodold days, most mountain men had Indian wives who cooked and cleaned for them).

And speaking of Indians, the book (and movie) Smoke Signals is about IdahoIndians. Yup. Bet you didn’t visit them.
Did you know that thefirstCatholic mass was said there in 1840 because local Christian Indiansrequested a priest, and they sent the famous explorerFather DeSmet?

The reality is that in Idaho the culture is one of families that care for theirown without a large government bureaucracy.

This is mainly due to the LDS heritage that built most of the Snake Valley– thesymbol of the LDS settlers is the communal beehive–but it is also true of thesolid midwestern farmers who moved there, the Catholic miners and Indians, andprobably even the techhies, who prefer the 20 below of a Boise winter to balmyL.A. because they can afford decent housing and schools for their children.

I am a doctor who has worked cross cultural medicine both in the USA andoverseas. I worked and raised my boys there. I’m sorry, but I see the snidecliches in this article as one more piece of evidence that the MSM too oftendespises middle America, “findamentalists” (a term that include LDS andCatholics) or indeed whatever group isn’t living in the upper East side.

You want your own private Idaho? Fine. Write a movie.
You want to write a story? Leave out the condenscending cliches.
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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. with herhusband. She lived in Idaho for five years and worked there as a doctor. Herwebpage isFinestKind Clinic and Fishmarketand temper tantrums get postedtoPodkayne’s blog. She was alerted to this article by WesternConfusian.

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