Iowa papers reported this morning that University of Iowa journalism professor Stephen G. Bloom has received “frightening” emails from critics of his Atlantic magazine piece, “Observations from 20 Years of Iowa Life.” One person said he would “kick your ass if front of your family if you keep it up.” Another message:
I couldn’t help but notice the glaring hypocrisy in your article.
You’re from New Jersey correct? I’ve been there. It’s a human
cesspool. Please return there. You are not welcome in this state. Go
back to New Jersey where you can surround yourself with the other
pretentious pseudo intellectuals and leave us “Pale skinned meth
addicts” in peace. Fuck you sir.
Atlantic photo that accompanied Bloom's essay
Some were worse, but so far he hasn’t felt the need to call police.
Bloom says he knew his essay would anger many Iowans, “but I didn’t anticipate this firestorm.”
“It’s the tenor and the ferocity and the hatefulness of these that indicate the piece struck a chord,” he tells me over the phone from the University of Michigan, where he’s a visiting professor. “This piece has gone viral. These people don’t read The Atlantic, and they may not have read the story,” but they probably saw what others said about it on Facebook.
“The thing that angers me is the characterization that I don’t know what I’m talking about, that I’m an elitist,” he tells me. “This is what I think good journalists ought to do. You start talking about uncomfortable truths and oftentimes people reject those.”
Stephen G. Bloom
Bloom adds: “As a journalist, I don’t sign up for boosterism, I don’t sign up for valentines.” That’s what the Des Moines Register and other Iowa papers go for, he says. The type of essay he wrote for the Atlantic “never would have appeared in an Iowa publication because no Iowa publications would have the guts to have run it.”
Will Bloom return to Iowa when his University of Michigan visiting professorship ends in May?
“Absolutely. That’s my home, that’s where I live. …I’ve been to all 99 counties.”
“I have to tell you that the university has been — as I would have expected it to be –very supportive despite a couple of my calls for my firing.”
While the Iowa newspapers have focused on Bloom’s hate mail, he tells me that “I also have some great emails saying, ‘You nailed it.'”
He shares some of the “fan emails,” which are posted after the jump. Read More