Ann Kempa writes from Norman, Oklahoma, in defense of the reddest state in the nation:
Realistically, Oklahoma is, for the most part, a Bible Belt, evangelical mainstay. There are pockets of liberalism, primarily in university towns and larger cities. Through the end of time (or the end of days), we probably won’t approve gay marriage. So why, my associates from the coasts ask, do you stay there?
My dear friend from NYC was visiting recently. It was late. He was in a rental car on the turnpike at a toll booth. Scrambling for money and messing with the GPS. He apologized to the toll attendant who said, "Honey, you're doin' just fine. Just take it easy. You're just fine."
I was born here. A southern sense of politeness and pull-togetherness and help-people-you-don’t-even-know-itedness pervades our lives. Does the legislation to curtail women’s reproductive rights and reject Obamacare go against all the values my parents and Christian upbringing taught me? Absolutely. Is my family here? Yes. Did my 92-year-old father go to the courthouse in northeastern Oklahoma to vote for Obama the first go-round before Daddy died? Yes.
I have made political phone calls and put out fliers and had Obama signs ripped from my yard. But grouping all Oklahomans together into an intolerant, ignorant clump is another kind of prejudice.
Things won’t change if the rest of the country keeps dissin' us.
Just as an aside from this very blue, very big city where I live now, I would suggest that folks from Oklahoma would discover politeness and cooperation and a help for strangers up here. It's human here, too, and kinda wonderful, really.
Image: At the Christmas parade in Norman. How to send us stuff.