As anyone who has talked to me already knows, I was born and raised in Miami and I have lived in Washington, D.C. for about a year now. It is also true, however, that when my mom first moved to the United States, she lived with family in New York City. With these facts, I find it appropriate to say that I certainly may defend the East Coast against a sarcastic Viewpoint written last Friday (“East Coast Ignorance Prevails on Campus,” THE HOYA, Sept. 5, 2003, p.3).

I only have four words about that: Someone is highly mistaken.

We individuals who were born (and raised) on the East Coast most definitely have a right to be proud and eastern-centric (it is a telling fact that since Miami is on the east coast of Florida, I have an avid dislike for the west coast of Florida), but as I remember, it was brave men and women on the East Coast who founded this nation. Easterners were the ones who built up New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. Let me be presumptuous and say in terms of contribution to the power of the United States, the East Coast has given an extraordinary amount with its blood, sweat and overall genius.

This is not to say that we just block out everything west of the Appalachian Mountains and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The way I see it, we very much acknowledge the important contributors outside of that boundary. The East Coast loves Los Angeles. We see Hollywood and movie stars and toned, tanned bodies and wistfully say to ourselves “we have to visit L.A. sometime.” We on the East Coast also think highly of Atlanta. Here we have a city that has risen to be a powerhouse in the country. The headquarters of CNN, Coca-Cola and numerous other businesses reside in that city and it also contributes culturally with the likes of Ludacris and Julia Roberts. Other places the East Coast is not “ignorant” about are as follows: Pittsburgh (builds our gigantic cities with its steel), Chicago (the east coast city of the Midwest), Las Vegas (gives us a better place to gamble than Atlantic City), Roswell (for the alternative East Coasters), Sheboygan, Wis. (that’s just the funniest name out there), the whole state of Texas (a bit haughty, but we deal with them) and San Francisco. Now, this list is not an end-all and be-all about the matter – other people may have other additions – but this can safely be said to be the core of respect we have. It is quite apparent that East Coasters do have a range of knowledge about their own country.

As for the supposed “obscure states,” well, it isn’t my fault that they had too many trees to cut down to make east coast-sized cities. The eastern seaboard did its job to become an important hub of America. We have the right to look down with contempt at other states that just never caught up. But by no means do we ask people from these areas about “living in log cabins.” No one can deny that our inhabitants certainly make jokes about it among ourselves and think about it in our heads, but ask? Not at all, we do have some class. In fact, we have a view of the South that is as much inspired by Gone with the Wind as it is by Jeff Foxworthy. I know in my own experience, whenever I hear Kentucky or Tennessee, I think of classy “southern belles” ripe for marrying. In terms of states such as Oregon, Alaska, Minnesota and the like, we appreciate them for their natural beauty. Yes, it may be true that there’s nothing of technology and little of contribution by each state individually, but the East Coast lumps them together as the beautiful, natural lands of the West. There are no trees or canyons or coyotes to be seen in New York City, so we take our summers off and pump money into the “obscure states” and their national parks. If we really believed that everyone in Alabama and Missouri had a shotgun, we would have let them form a confederacy instead of fighting back during the Civil War. If we really believed people in Alaska lived in igloos, we would have let Canada take it over by now because only Canadians live in igloos, not Americans.

The bottom line of all this is as follows: there is no problem of ignorance. It is simply a question of arrogance. We know the country stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and we respect that fact. We are not ignorant about the fact that other states exist. We don’t believe we are the only part of the country. We just know that we’re the best part.

Chenel Josaphat is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service.

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