Curiously, Mr. Keillor has always found it difficult spending so much time with the strong, good-looking, above average people of Lake Wobegon, which he based on his relatives, past and present.
In “The Keillor Reader” (2014), he complained bitterly about “their industriousness, their infernal humility, their schoolmarmish sincerity, their earnest interest in you, their clichés falling like clockwork — it can be tiring to be around.”
Speaking on his porch, Mr. Keillor said of Lake Wobegonians, i.e., his relatives, “I am frustrated by them in real life.” They were too controlled by good manners, he said, and “have a very hard time breaking through.”
So why devote so much of his professional life ruminating about them? “It’s the people I think I know,” he replied.
Will he miss them, and the weekly jolt of the show?
“No,” he replied. “No.”
Ed continues: “As with many on the left, in the wake of 9/11, Keillor emerged as a vicious partisan, describing President Bush’s supporters thusly in 2004:”
The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk.
Then this quote from Christopher Caldwell:
At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns…For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.
Ed has outlined the problem: the opinion leaders in the Blue Tribe gleefully engage in the extreme stereotyping, bigotry, and prejudice they rightfully decry when applied to everyone but their cultural cousins in the heartland. It is all about feeling superior to their countrymen not so privileged as to live in elite coastal communities where wealth, education, and stable academic or government jobs give them a platform to look down on, and prescribe correct thought to, the great unwashed they have separated themselves from.
The current attempt to paint evangelical Christians and gun control opponents as responsible for a supposed climate of hate leading to the Orlando massacre is a good example. After winning enormous improvements in both law and opinion on gay rights, Democrats and activists want to continue to crusade against old enemies rather than facing the reality — that there is almost no one in their demonized classes who would want them killed, while there are a millions of fundamentalist Islamists, egged on by Salafist training financed for decades by Saudi Arabia, who *do* want them killed. By displacing the blame, the Blue Tribe leaders can avoid considering the enormity of the evil of gays and women being stoned, shot, thrown from buildings, and otherwise sacrificed in a broad swath of the Middle East and Africa where these fundamentalists are in power, and how that evil is coming home to us now.Yesterday’s post about the infighting between American cultures over the response to Orlando murders gets at some of this — American Red Tribe members, many of whom have some traditionalist beliefs about sex roles and gay marriage, bear no murderous urges toward anyone, and would help defend their fellow citizens should it ever come to that using their stores of guns and ammo and military training. Like the townspeople’s reaction to prepper Burt Gummer in Tremors, “sophisticates” roll their eyes when the ex-military guy seems to be paranoid and overprepared for unlikely threats, but everyone is grateful when the threat appears and he’s the only one who has a useful response. A civilization which has so protected its people that they lose the ability to even imagine the need to defend themselves is ripe for external attack. And the threat from Islamist ideology is real — it’s not a country, it’s not a state (no matter what ISIS’s pretensions are), it’s a thought-virus.
It is not helpful that so many filter the news for the most outrageous behaviors to confirm their fear of the other tribe — steady consumption of clickbait outrage stories would have you believe most Christian leaders want gays killed and approve of the Orlando murders, while the truth is only a minute number of attention-seeking sect leaders (like the Westboro “Baptist” Church) are anything but properly horrified. By choosing to read these outrage porn sites, people nurture old grievances and retain a profoundly wrong idea of the feelings of their Red Tribe countrymen, so much so that it is becoming a danger to our polity.
I grew up in the era when everyone who appeared weak or different could expect to be bullied. We’ve made a lot of progress as a people to remedy that kind of abuse, but the defensive reflexes remain. The generation now in their 50s and 60s are the primary opinion leaders, and edit most of the media we read. They still believe in the ill-will of their flyover countrymen that many of them worked hard to get away from, and identities and egos are built on their feelings of moral superiority. They are easily persuaded that external threats are unimportant compared to the need to continue to suppress their old enemies in the culture wars — and that is a great danger, since by not acting to counteract Islamist ideology and its promoters, and by portraying legitimate criticism of the current government’s management of security and screening of millions of immigrants as racist, sexist, and xenophobic, they block any reform that might reduce the number of Jihadi converts in sensitive positions.
So here’s my suggestion for my Blue Tribe friends — get to know your Red Tribe cousins. Go shooting with them, barbecue some ribs with them, visit the country in the middle you’ve never seen and absorb the culture there without your blinders on. Instead of vacationing in New York or San Francisco or the villa in Tuscany or the south of France, try Salina, Kansas, or New Braunfels, Texas. Get to know some young men who sport cultural signifiers you fear — like pickup trucks, gun racks, and military backgrounds. You’ll find them to be as friendly and civilized as the average coastal resident, just different. And you may come to respect them as much as I do — even though I worked as hard as I could to get away from them when I was young. Your past experience has prejudiced you against a people who in the current reality are your closest and warmest cousins. Bigotry and discrimination have no place in the new America — the President is quite right about that. But his blindness and bigotry toward half the population of his own country is obvious.
Don’t be a bigot. Talk to those people you think you loathe and fear. Come out as an American.
Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations
[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations, available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]
Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”
Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.