Garrison Keillor Mocks Patriotism
By: Warner Todd Huston
I guess out on Lake Blowbegone, patriotism isn’t kosher? Keillor just seems, nose in the air, to find all that lowborn patriotism so woefully gauche. At least, one might get that impression by reading the attack penned by Garrison Keillor against the patriotism evinced by the folks who don their red, white and blue, along with their leather jackets and hop on their Hogs to join the long line of motorcycle riders at “Rolling Thunder” on Memorial Day in Washington D.C. This year, Keillor was so put off by the patriotic bikers that he was driven to his keyboard to regale us all with his bad metaphors and surly disposition.
With “The roar of hollow patriotism,” Keillor found that he just couldn’t stomach the loud patriotism expressed by the Harley riders in D.C. He also seemed to say that if you are a “fat man with a ponytail” you shouldn’t be allowed to express that patriotism in a manner you so wish to express it.
Three-hundred thousand bikers spent Memorial Day weekend roaring around Washington in tribute to our war dead, and I stood on Constitution Avenue Sunday afternoon watching a river of them go by, waiting for a gap in the procession so I could cross over to the Mall and look at pictures.
A “river” of motorcycles? Seems a rather inapt metaphor, doesn’t it? Maybe “stampede” or “herd,” might make more sense, but when I think “river” I think a serene scene of nature as opposed to the cacophony of motorbikes.
But, bad metaphors abound. They get more vicious, too.
A patriotic bike rally is sort of like a patriotic toilet-papering or patriotic graffiti; the patriotism somehow gets lost in the sheer irritation of the thing. Somehow a person associates Memorial Day with long moments of silence when you summon up mental images of men huddled together on LSTs and pilots revving up B-24s and infantrymen crouched behind piles of rubble steeling themselves for the next push.
I find myself mouth agape at the hate expressed by Keillor against these patriotic folks. Is this vitriol warranted?
I also paused after that paragraph searching my mind for a mean way to describe a liberal’s patriotic rally of some sort. But, after wracking my little head for 10 minutes, I realized that it is impossible to describe something that has never happened. At least Keillor had seen a biker’s rally so that he could lampoon them! Iâ€™d have to make up what a liberalâ€™s rally might look like from pure imagination. And I just cannot justify the waste of time.
Now part of Keillor’s screed was filled with a loving description of Renoir’s ballerina, Monet’s children in the garden of sunflowers, and Mary Cassatt’s The Boating Party that he wanted to see upon his visit to the Smithsonian. Beyond a doubt these are some of the finest and most important paintings of their kind. But, I found it interesting that Keillor felt that a great way to celebrate Memorial Day was to go see some paintings by Europeans — and one ex-pat, wannabe European — instead of something, anything actually American.
Then Keillor revealed his complete lack of knowledge of anyone outside his circle of tea-drinking, pinky finger lifted, emasculated, lefties with whom he is so used to associating.
You don’t quite see the connection between that and these fat men with ponytails on Harleys. After hearing a few thousand bikes go by, you think maybe we could airlift these gentlemen to Baghdad to show their support of the troops in a more tangible way.
Keillor is obviously so out of touch with America that he is utterly unaware that at the Rolling Thunder rally, a large portion of those bikers he hates so much ARE veterans of our armed forces. They’ve served in Vietnam, the first Gulf War and the current conflicts already!
This is why I ” don’t quite see the connection” between Keillor and anyone who really is patriotic.
He repeated his attack against the people on bikes that he has no knowledge of a few paragraphs later saying that if they read some books on WWII…
…they would get a vision of what it was like to face death for your country, but the bikers riding in formation are more interested in being seen than in learning anything. They are grown men playing soldier, making a great hullaballoo without exposing themselves to danger, other than getting drunk and falling off a bike.
Naturally this pseudo-intellectual warmed up his Bush Derangement Syndrome for another cheap shot at both the bikers and our president.
No wonder the Current Occupant welcomed them with open arms at the White House, put on a black leather vest, and gave a manly speech about how he’d just “choppered in” and saw the horde “cranking up their machines” and he thanked them for being so patriotic. They are his kind of guys, full of bluster, giving off noxious fumes, and when they leave town, nobody misses them.
Yes, these bikers are President Bush’s sort of folks. They are many of them veterans of the armed services as is their president. And, as Keillor is mocking the bikers for not serving (as he imagines and wrongly so) I cannot seem to find any mention of Keillor’s military service. Born on 1942, he graduated college in 1966 and doesn’t seem to have served in the military, oddly enough. Makes one wonder where his criticism of other people’s service, or lack thereof, comes from? Or, more correctly, it makes one wonder at Keillor’s hypocrisy.
I’d say that out at lake Blowbegone, there are fumes noxious enough to rival the cloud raised above D.C. this Memorial Day. Only, I’d prefer that Keillor’s fumes stay out in the isolated wilderness of Minnesota where the rest of us won’t become engulfed in them as they waft uninvitingly from the nationâ€™s newspapers.
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as newsbusters.org, townhall.com, New Media Journal, Menâ€™s News Daily and the New Media Alliance among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of publiusforum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston