Thursday, May 29, 2008

When Pompous Becomes Idiotic

Garrison Keillor, once known fondly for his Lake Woebegone broadcasts on PBS, now writes a pompous editorial column for the Baltimore Sun. His Memorial Day column is not only pompous, but ignorant. He writes like a smarmy elitist who did not bother to gather any facts and was annoyed only by his own inconvenience. If this editorial does not enrage you, I do question your patriotism. My comments are at the end.

The disturbing roar of hollow patriotism
By Garrison Keillor
May 28, 2008

Three hundred thousand bikers spent Memorial Day weekend roaring around Washington in tribute to our war dead, and I stood on Constitution Avenue on 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. The street had been closed off for them and they motored on by, some flying the Stars and Stripes and the black MIA-POW flag, honking, revving their engines, an endless celebration of internal combustion.

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 pilots revving up B-24s and infantrymen crouched behind piles of rubble steeling themselves for the next push.

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. It took 20 minutes until a gap appeared and then a mob of us pedestrians flooded across the street and the parade of bikes had to stop for us, and on we went to show our patriotism by, in my case, hiking around the National Gallery, which, after you've watched a few thousand Harleys pass, seems like an outpost of civilization.

There stood Renoir's ballerina in pale blue chiffon and Monet's children in the garden of sunflowers. And Mary Cassatt's "The Boating Party," which I stood and stared at for a long time. A lady in a white bonnet sits in a green sailboat, holding a contented baby in pink, as a man rows  the boat toward a distant shore. (Perhaps the boat is becalmed.) The man wears a navy blue shirt,  he is preoccupied with his rowing, and the lady looks wan and mildly anxious, as well a mother should be. The baby is looking dreamily over the gunwales. Is the man a hired hand or is he the husband and father?

A work of art can lift you up from the mishmash of life, the weight of the unintelligible world, and vulgarity squats on you like an enormous toad and won't get off. You stroll down past the World War II Memorial, which looks like something ordered out of a catalog, a bland insult to the memory of all who served, and thousands of motorcycles roar by disturbing the Sabbath, and it depresses you for hours.

If anyone cared about the war dead, they could go read David Halberstam's The Coldest Winter or Stephen Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers or any of a hundred other books, and 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 hullabaloo without exposing themselves to danger, other than getting drunk and falling off a bike.

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.

Meanwhile, the man pulls at the oars, the lady wonders if this trip was a good idea or if some disaster is at hand, and the child lolls on her lap, dazed by the sun. They started this trip in 1894 and haven't advanced an inch; meanwhile, half the people who ever stood and watched them have reached that distant shore and the rest of us are getting closer every day.

I am the boatman and maybe you are, too - it is quiet on the water, we lean on the oars, and we are suspended in time, united with every other man, woman and child who ever voyaged afar.

Garrison Keillor's column appears regularly in The Sun.

First - Memorial Day was on Monday - Rolling Thunder rides on Sunday. It seems Keillor does not know when Memorial Day is. I'm not quite sure how looking at French Impressionist art is an expression of patriotism, but in Keillor's very small frame of reference it is. Does he know that without the sacrifices of men better than he is, he would not get to go to the museums in DC.

Second - Rolling Thunder is made up of Veterans - started by Vietnam Veterans and now joined by more recent Veterans. Keillor chooses to denigrate them and deny them the honor deserved. He calls them drunkards who fall off of bikes, and denies them the honor of their service. Little does he know that these men ride for their POW-MIA brothers and for their fallen comrades. They ride for Veteran's benefits and hold the VA to account at all times. They have played a much wider role in American history than Keillor, or for that matter Halberstam and Ambrose who recorded others actions from the safety of their offices.

And, finally, he insults the World War II Memorial - and while we can agree to disagree, he does not express any respect who served, in fact he calls it a bland insult.

Oh, and don't forget the obligatory liberal insult to the President.

Keillor, you are a small minded, arrogant elitist who knows less about his country than most. You have so much secured for you by these 'fat men' that you will never comprehend. You sicken me and I am sorry you live in my country.


Sarge Charlie said...

Mostly I ignore bastards like this but since you game me his email, he will hear from me.

Flag Gazer said...

My letter to Keilior -

Mr. Keilior:
It always astonishes me when elitists, such as yourself, get so annoyed that in the process of 'blowing off steam' they show themselves to be uniformed, ignorant and foolish. and, in no stretch of the imagination can I see how looking at French Impressionist art is an expression of patriotism.

First - Memorial Day is on Monday - Rolling Thunder rides on Sunday. They did NOT interrupt your Memorial Day - it had not arrived yet. Second - Rolling Thunder is made up of Veterans - started by Vietnam Veterans - people who actually risked their lives for this country - and is mostly made up of Veterans today. They ride to keep POW-MIA issues and other Veteran Affairs issues in the forefront. They are better men than you are capable of being and if we had to choose between them and you, we would pick them. This was the 23rd year of their ride. If you were aware or concerned about Veteran's issues you would have known and you would not have been inconvenienced by them.

You denigrate people you don't even know in your piece. it is obvious that you do not know vey many real Americans - and definitely do not know any Veterans.

It is your patriotism that is disturbing, sir.

Buck said...

I'm beginning to think we're twins separated at birth, Cynthia. Excellent comment and an excellent letter to Keilior.

"Prairie Home Companion" was a staple of my life when I returned from England back in '83 (and re-discovered NPR). I never missed an episode, ever, for at least ten years...maybe more. It saddens me to see what Keilior has become... a semi-senile old man who rants incoherently about things he doesn't BEGIN to understand.

John personal trainers Austin said...

Pompous? Self-righteous, sanctamonious too.

I used to love Prairie Home Companion, but my views have changed.

Snooper said...

Linked and blogged. It has been bothering me since you told me about this a few days ago.

Adam said...

I really enjoy when these guys show us their true feelings.

Wade Huntsinger said...

I too use to enjoy that show when many weekends I would still be out there on the road trucking across this great nation. Thanks for pointing this out to me as I don't think I could ever listen again. Great post! and I enjoyed your response!!!

Ron Simpson said...

I never thought his radio show was anything but pure crap. Sorry, but it is true. His voice irritates me. What he says angers me. He is unimportant to me.

Flag Gazer said...

Anonymous - I realise that you can't read - I do NOT publish Anonymous comments - as stated in the policy - and it is too bad you are illiterate. Also, you fail to see that the lies the scum told are a problem - you need to adjust your moral compass.

Snooper said...

Flag Gazer kicks moonbat to the curb.