In Garrison Keillor’s recent Op-Ed column in The Washington Post, he responds to U.S. citizens who say they’ll flee the country if Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump wins the election. Keillor recommends that prospective ex-patriots stay home instead. According to Keillor, if you truly want to escape Trump, you shouldn’t travel abroad, where suddenly you’ll be “hauling a knapsack of nationality.” As evidence to support his claim, Keillor recounts the years he spent in Europe during the George W. Bush era when, as Keillor describes it, “foreigners hear[d] your voice and it’s like you’re wearing a big fat A around your neck.” In contrast, he notes that no one broached the subject of W with him when he stayed in Houston in 2006 and 2007.
In the first line of his column, Keillor calls Trump “the Great White Snapper,” a moniker he repeats four times with slight variations–“the Great Turtle” (paragraph two), “the Big Snapper” (paragraph four), “the Snapper” (paragraph four), and “the Great White Turtle” (paragraph six), making that combative creature the column’s prevailing image.
Keillor’s depiction of Trump as a snapping turtle was one of our points of discussion when my students and I read his column in class last Wednesday. Though I had planned to have my students study a piece of Keillor’s writing as a prelude to his appearance on Thursday–as one of the featured authors in Lenoir-Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series–I had no idea when I was constructing the syllabus that Trump would descend onto campus–or that his rally would be followed by an Op-Ed column by Keillor before his own scheduled appearance at L-R. The Op-Ed offered a valuable opportunity that I couldn’t have planned: one that let us look at one high-profile campus visitor’s remarks about another, one who had stood on the same stage only two weeks earlier.
Though our study of Keillor’s column was an exercise in rhetorical analysis, not in politics, it proved difficult–and appropriately so–to separate the two as we considered Trump as “the Great White Snapper.”
Keillor, Garrison. “Think Moving Abroad will Save You from Trump? Think Again.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 30 March 2016.