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Jackson Williams

Jackson Williams

Posted: December 21, 2009 10:10 AM

Some in the rightwing blogosphere, who can't stand Garrison Keillor for his liberal politics, are taking shots at him for his recent pro-Christmas piece at Salon.com, syndicated in various newspapers around the country.

What seems to offend is a brief and benign swipe at Jewish songwriters who appropriated Christmas for commercial purposes with shallow, meaningless songs about Rudolph, etc. Needless to say, some Jewish blogs are overly self-righteous, too: "Garrison Keillor Doesn't Like Jews Writing Christmas Songs."

I'm no theologian, but I don't know what red-nosed reindeer have to do with celebrating the birth of Christ, either.

In truth, the "Prairie Home Companion" host's essay seems simply a defense of Christmas as a religious holiday, starting with his title, "Don't mess with Christmas."

One would hope that would be a clue for people who share the Christian faith, but apparently the religious right can't even take a compliment.

See what you think: Here's Keillor's commentary.


POSTSCRIPT: Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief of New Jersey Jewish News, posted a Dec. 21 blog entry on his website, writing in part:

I suspect he was joking, and after listening to Keillor's Prairie Home Companion every Saturday night for like 20 years, I'm pretty sure he thinks he was joking. That being said, he did a piss-poor job of it, and if you're not attuned to his sensibility it sounded not amusingly curmudgeonly, but churlish and nasty.

(Keillor, who often books the Klezmatics during his December shows, tends to incorporate gentle religious stereotypes in his humor, ribbing Lutherans, Catholics and Unitarians. I once heard him joke, more successfully: "To my Jewish friends who volunteer to cover our shifts on Christmas and Easter? Butt out -- some of us don't want to be with our families in the first place.")

Unless the guy is a closet bigot or off his meds, I think his offense here is not anti-Semitism, but awful execution of a joke.

(For an antidote to Keillor, read Michael Feinstein's sweet oped on ecumenism and the Jews who penned Christmas carols.)