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A Letter to Garrison Keillor in Response to His Trump Comments

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A great literary hero of mine, Garrison Keillor, just wrote in the Washington Post: “So he won. The nation takes a deep breath. Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out, and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president.”

I’m with you politically here, Garrison. But as a person with a brain injury, I find that utterly uncalled for, even with the little amount of sleep we are all operating on this week.

Sir, I’m sorry, but listing a learning disability as a character flaw and a reason not to be president is nearly as bad as Trump himself mocking the disabled. Maybe a little neurodiversity is what we need to get out of this mess. At the very least, didn’t we just get over the right howling about how Hillary Clinton was “too sick” to be president?

Having a learning disability is not a character flaw. It is not a reason to exclude anyone from the White House. There are many reasons to be skeptical of Trump’s abilities. But your comment points to the ablism on the left side, as well as the right. And that is part of the problem we are waking up to in the days after.

I, for one, can’t wait until we have someone with a severe learning disability in the White House. After all, wasn’t JFK dyslexic?

I’m not mad (although as someone who grew up listening to you in the car with my dad, I am disappointed). I’m a writer. We all write stupid stuff. And then we edit! Ron CarlsonRichard Bausch and David Means have all taught me so much about editing and the value of making sure you say exactly what you mean. That way, you don’t put your foot in it.

Hey, next time, use better words. Edit again. Get more sleep.

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Image on left by Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg News / Landov / Prairie Home Companion. Image on right by by Michael Vadon.

Originally published: November 10, 2016
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