Culture Wars/Current Controversies

In one small prairie town, two warring visions of America

It may be in the deep purple zones that the crackup is the messiest.

BENSON, Minn. (AP) — The newspaper hit the front porches of the wind-scarred prairie town on a Thursday afternoon: Coronavirus numbers were spiking in the farming communities of western Minnesota.

“Covid-19 cases straining rural clinics, hospitals, staff,” read the front-page headline. Vaccinate to protect yourselves, health officials urged.

But ask around Benson, stroll its three-block business district, and some would tell a different story: The Swift County Monitor-News, the tiny newspaper that’s reported the news here since 1886, is not telling the truth. The vaccine is untested, they say, dangerous. And some will go further: People, they’ll tell you, are being killed by COVID-19 vaccinations.

One little town. Three thousand people. Two starkly different realities.

It’s another measure of how, in an America increasingly split by warring visions of itself, division doesn’t just play out on cable television, or in mayhem at the U.S. Capitol.

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