Magazine | July 08, 2019, Issue

Plowing the Web

Donald Trump appears at a campaign rally in Sioux City, Iowa. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Trump gives a speech in Iowa, says something, Fox drops the feed. Vox writer Aaron Rupar tweets: “Beyond parody — Fox Business cuts away from Trump’s speech right after he laments, bizarrely, that tractors can’t hook up to the internet.”

It’s as if he thought they hit the kill switch because Fox has a standing rule about cutting away from the president when he enters Spontaneous Rumination Mode. What? Tractors connecting to the Internet? Did that go out? Tell me that didn’t go out!

“That might have made it out,” the producer says with a tremulous voice, “but the part where he said the threshing machines were like Pac-Man, going down rows and eating things, and asked the farmers whether they were pursued by small colored ghosts, I think we shut off by then.”

“Sir!” the social-media intern says. “A Vox reporter heard him say the part about the tractors.”

Vox?” The Fox producer goes pale. “Of all the people to hear that, why did it have to be Vox? How are we ever going to come back from this?”

The Vox reporter was speaking for the rest of the chattering types who live in the urban bubble. And by “bubble,” we mean a steel bathysphere that can descend to the bottom of the Mariana Trench without admitting a molecule of the surrounding water into the pressurized interior.

Apparently the Vox idea of a farmer comes directly from Green Acres, where tractors belch smoke and go rapita-rapita-rapita, and the farmer dude sits bouncing on a metal butt-bucket, gripping a steering wheel the diameter of tympani, chewing on a stalk of wheat while he plows the earth with his, er, plow? Is that what it’s called? Man, those farmers have a real complex language, don’t they. I will plow with the plow and then I will get in my truck and truck to town.

Idiots, the Vox writer thinks. Trump voters, all of them. Good thing they’re getting screwed by tariffs, and ha ha they’re all welfare queens now getting subsidies from that dad-blang’d gummint they hate so much. Welp, better get started on that piece about how the Democrats can find a message to win over the rural areas.

The reporter was quickly corrected in Twitter replies by people who pointed out the necessity of Internet connections for modern agriculture. No, they do not say, “Alexa, how high is the corn?” and Alexa, using the Internet, does not reply, “The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye.”

Not that farmers need the Internet the way modern urbanites do. Your average Vox writer’s Internet search history probably has things like “Do I need the socket’s consent when screwing in a light bulb?” Self-reliance, for this cohort, is when you walk to the take-out place instead of having DoorDash deliver to your apartment. If you look at a farmer’s search history, it does not have things like “How to remove arm caught in auger,” because they know from the start that that is a thing to be avoided.

Of course, if the farmers were smart, they would be in big cities writing pieces for websites like BuzzFeed, home of such deathless journalism as “eat five of these sixteen Madagascar beetle species and we’ll tell you which Disney Prince you’ll marry.” (There are similar quizzes for women.) In fact, BuzzFeed recently cast an approving eye towards the mysterious interior of the country and celebrated a Good Ol’ Country Boy who decorated his pickup for Pride Month, the seemingly 52-week-long festival of rainbow branding.

“On June 6,” the story said, “he decorated his truck with rainbow duct tape and mailbox letters that spell out ‘Not all country boys are bigots. Happy Pride Month.’”

Since we’re about a year or two away from a truckmaker running Pride ads that say “We don’t care whether you like a stick or prefer an automatic or whether you’re more comfortable with a hybrid, if you know what we mean. Just be yourself. Ford. Celebrating whatever road you take” or something, Truck Guy isn’t exactly that brave, but you’d think he was like a Democrat in 1944 adding school desegregation to the national platform.

From their giving him an attaboy for saying, in essence, that most country boys are bigots, you might infer they think most of your Bubba demographic sits around listening to Hank Williams — Junior, that is, not his Commie papa — peeling off beer-bottle labels with their thumbnails, waitin’ for their pack leader to stand, adjust his belt buckle, and say, “Well, boys, I say we can sit here all night and drink, or we can subsume our latent homosexual urges by projecting our fears onto a vulnerable member of the community. Who’s up for lettin’ the air out of the tires of that fella what teaches thee-ater o’er at the schoolhouse?”

“I don’t know, Billy. What if he makes an advance? What if’n he comes out dressed like a girl? I seen them cartoons where Bugs Bunny dresses like a girl and they always made me feel kinda funny, and not in a bad way.”

“Don’t worry, buddy, I got your back.”

“Yeah, well, what if he says that, too?”

Recently AgSec Sonny Perdue spoke to a meeting of employees of two Agriculture Department research agencies, and they turned their back on him. Why? Because he’d proposed moving the offices from D.C. to (gasp) Kansas City, where they’ll be closer to, you know, agriculture. It’s like the czar sending you to Siberia. You know who’s probably hardest hit?

The people whose job it was to get broadband to rural areas. Job security, as long as it never got there.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners




A reader responds to a recent article by Avik Roy, ‘Socialized Medicine Is Bad for Your Health.’

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