I don’t know if Garrison Keillor is anti-semitic and I don’t really care, but the question was raised by his Christmas editorial at Salon.com. After reading it last month I decided I had nothing to say about it. Who really cares what Garrison Keillor says, right?
This morning I was on my way to work and yesterday’s Prairie Home Companion came on. I found my hand reaching for the dial to change the channel. Then I realized why I haven’t been able to get this out of my head.
I’ve been listening to PHC for about 20 years. I always enjoyed the quirky humor and most of all the music. When I was younger and searching for my identity, I felt a real connection to the music, as an American and as a Midwesterner. We have a real streak of Appalachia in my part of the country despite being pretty far from the mountains and I love bluegrass and mountain music, even though much of it has a gospel theme. What Garrison reminded my last month is that the music isn’t really mine. My connection to it is in my imagination. I may want it, but it doesn’t want me.
I love the winter holidays, the light they bring to a dark time of year. My favorite is Channukah, given it’s the one I celebrate, but I love my neighbors’ Christmas lights, my wife and daughter love to listen to Christmas music on the radio. What I didn’t realize, perhaps because of my own willful blindness, is that as much as I feel I am a part of all of this, I am not. Keillor took away my Christmas, took away my identity as an American, a Midwesterner, and a lover of bluegrass music.
Of course I’m not about to change, really. I still love music, I’m still a Midwesterner and an American. But now when I turn on the radio on Saturday evening, I’m not going to be tuning in to Keillor—he shattered my illusion of belonging, and I wish to guard that illusion a little bit longer.