In his recent opinion piece, “With Ineptitude on Full Display, the Party's Over for Republicans” (Baltimore Sun, June 8, 2006), Garrison Keillor not only lampoons the Republican Party’s latest attack on “g-a-y-s”, but also offers some timely reflections on the link between creativity and tolerance.
He notes, for instance, that “creative people thrive in a climate of openness and tolerance.” Conversely, “authoritarianism is stifling” – a reality that has consequences for all aspects of our society, including, says Keillor, society’s economic well-being.
Following are excerpts:
I see by the papers that the Republicans want to make an issue of Nancy Pelosi in the congressional races this fall: Would you want a San Francisco woman to be speaker of the House?
Will the podium be repainted in lavender stripes with a disco ball overhead? Will she be borne into the chamber by male dancers with glistening torsos and wearing pink tutus? After all, in the unique worldview of old elephants, "San Francisco" is a code word for "g-a-y," and after assembling a record of government lies, incompetence and disaster, the party in power hopes that the fear of g-a-y-s will pull it through in November.
Running against Ms. Pelosi, a woman who comes from a district where there are known gay persons, is a nice trick, but it does draw attention to the large shambling galoot who is speaker now, Tom DeLay's enabler for years . . . Dennis Hastert.
[Hastert] has been two heartbeats from the presidency. He is a man who seems content just to have a car and driver and three square meals a day. He has no apparent vision beyond the urge to hang onto power. He has succeeded in turning Congress into a branch of the executive branch. If Mr. Hastert becomes the poster boy for the Republican Party, this does not speak well for them as the Party of Ideas.
People who want to take a swing at San Francisco should think twice. Yes, the Irish coffee at Fisherman's Wharf is overpriced, and the bus tour of Haight-Ashbury is disappointing (where are the hippies?), but the Bay Area is the cradle of the computer and software industry, which continues to create jobs for our children.
The iPod was not developed by Baptists in Waco. There may be a reason for this. Creative people thrive in a climate of openness and tolerance, since some great ideas start out sounding ridiculous.
Creativity is a key to economic progress. Authoritarianism is stifling. I don't believe that Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard were gay, but what's important is: In San Francisco, it doesn't matter so much. When the cultural Sturmbannfuhrers try to marshal everyone into straight lines, it has consequences for the economic future of this country.
. . . So here we are at an uneasy point in our history, mired in a costly war and getting nowhere, a supine Congress granting absolute power to a president who seems to get smaller and dimmer, and the best the GOP can offer is San Franciscophobia? This is beyond pitiful. This is violently stupid.
To read in full Garrison Keillor's piece, “With Ineptitude on Full Display, the Party's Over for Republicans,” click here.
Thanks to James O’Leary for alerting me to this article.