Every four years, articles appear explaining Iowa to people elsewhere in the United States trying to understand the state that plays such a crucial role in selecting the president of the United States. This year one such article, "Observations From 20 Years of Iowa Life," ran in The Atlantic, written by Stephen G. Bloom, a journalism professor at the University of Iowa. He describes how parts of the state are quite liberal, but how other parts are quite conservative, and he notes the role of religion, guns and other powerful forces among some Iowans. The response has been intense -- not only comments on the magazine's website but phone calls that Bloom told The Des Moines Register made him fear for the safety of his family. University of Iowa officials are speaking out to say that Bloom does not represent their views of the state.
In Iowa City, the university's home (and generally considered a liberal stronghold), a custom T-shirt store is thrilled with the controversy, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. A new T-shirt responds to Bloom by saying: "Iowa: If you’re reading this congratulations! You’ve survived meth, Jesus, hunting accidents, crime-filled river slums, and old people. Unfortunately, you are going to die sad and alone soon."