On the campaign trail, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (like Nancy Klobucher and other presidential candidates) has emphasized his ties to the “American Heartland.” The Midwest has long been viewed as an area known for moderate and common sense politics. However, a recent reference by Buttigieg to his roots in the “American Heartland” has led former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien to denounce his words as a racist “dog whistle.”
O’Brien tweeted “It is a dog whistle . . . And maybe Mayor Pete isn’t aware of that. There is nothing more virtuous about a vision honed in the Heartland. Again—he should sit with his staffers of color and have them explain this to him.”
He is not the only one who may need such an explanation. I am from the Midwest and we have many neighbors of color. Yet, we all take pride in Midwestern values and common sense. Some of us would be happy to sit down with staff to explain that point of regional meaning and pride.