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Garrison Keillor is a Tool 

Another one! Garrison Keillor, or what is left of him, was ousted for surprise, sexual harassment. In typical Midwest passive/aggressive fashion Keillor’s actions have been explained as “Inappropriate Behavior.” One would think he was running with scissors. The harassment listeners experienced on our airwaves for four decades was mercifully nonsexual, in fact it was far from. In theory, Keillor’s show could have been funny. I recall the Cohen brothers’ masterpiece “Fargo” which depicted Minnesota Nice with a dark undertone. Keillor though was not a parody of Minnesota Nice, he assumed it’s ascension.

Politically speaking we should understand some things about Keillor’s home state Minnesota. To our credit, we have accepted a lot of immigrants. The Hmong community and the Somali community are large and vital. Even the racist Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips came here for Somali recruits. Trump tried to blame Somalians for our failings as a state in his visit on the campaign trail.

On the other hand, our racial wealth gap is a disgrace. The Pioneer Press reports that white families have a median annual income of 81,500 while black families have a median income of 33,900. Do we really think whites lives matter three times as much as black lives? Unless the answer is yes, reparations are clearly in order. Some of this has to do with the obliteration of the black Rondo neighborhood. We built the I-94 Highway straight through this community shortly before Keillor’s blabber began, in 1968.

Keillor has painted an awfully innocent and peachy picture of his homeland. He of course hasn’t been that innocent and peachy. His homophobia is well documented. As is his lawsuit against his neighbor. He literally sued his neighbor for building an addition to her own house. Does this remind you of anyone? He also called Congressman Keith Ellison a “lackluster Black Muslim.” For such a happy-go-lucky guy he has always been a pain in the rear.

His defense of funny buddy Al Franken now has comic timing. He wrote a really obnoxious piece in the Washington Post defending Franken. It dragged on and on, hoping to distract the reader with its mundaneness, a classic Keillor formula. It seemed to complain about the name change of a Minnesota lake that was formally named after John Calhoun. The lake is being renamed for the Dakota people whose land was stolen and whose people were murdered, the new name being Bde Maka Ska. Keillor’s complaint was that the new name would be too messy and confusing. This was the same argument he had against gay marriage. Anything outside of the Lake Wobegon world is just too much for poor Gary to handle.

A typical Prairie Home Companion show is just dreadful. The whole premise is that Keillor and his clan had a great life so they really could just focus on the trivial. And did they ever! Now this was far from Seinfeld’s show about nothing. This show was about something. This was a show about a perfect white world with Keillor at the center. He could grab some fine musical guests (no pun intended, only assumed!). But he would always sing over them. And he was such a bad singer. He had no sense of it either. His fuck-ups were seen as humorous though because he was a thoughtful white guy and what would we do without him?

This was a show that seriously messed up your day. He would give you the news from Lake Wobegon. This was a series of nonsense quips about innocent yet harmless white people. In this lovely place everyone was such a peach there would be no crime to report! What America was he living in? The painful thing was that he did all this with so little self-awareness. The fact that he was constantly selling the life of being a useless tool with no faults and no responsibilities was one thing. But to do this with such entitlement was another.

But brewing underneath this cutout image was an angry and spiteful man, prone to demeaning anyone who didn’t think like he did. His politics are hardly left but he is quick to shame anyone who is too simple minded about these things, echoing Hillary’s demeaning of the deplorables. He created a world where all the women were troublesome, all the children were naive and all the men were Garrison. And anyone outside of this world was simply not enlightened.

To be honest maybe few people really care about this jerk. There are, after all, more important things than the news out of Lake Wobegon.

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Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com 

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