The Lord of the Rings

August 05, 2004

Alan Keyes and The Lord of the Rings

The Illinois Republican party has finally made up its mind on a replacement for Jack Ryan: GOP leaders have asked former presidential candidate Alan Keyes to be the party's Senate nominee. Keyes, I'd argue, was the perfect choice. Never mind that he's certifiably insane. Never mind that he's never lived in Illinois and that he's denounced Hillary Clinton for seeking office in New York despite lacking roots in the state. ("I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton's willingness to go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there," Keyes told Fox News in 2000. "So I certainly wouldn't imitate it.") Given everything that's happened so far this year, no Republican could beat Barack Obama for the Senate in November--and the Republicans have finally found a candidate so egotistical and so desperate for attention that he doesn't care if his cause is hopeless!

Keyes will be in for a lot of criticism if he accepts the state GOP's offer, both because of his extreme views and because of his carpet-bagging. I have a much more serious criticism to make, however: Keyes gives Tolkien fans a bad name.

Two years ago, Keyes mentioned in an interview that he loved The Lord of the Rings, which led to the question, "So if you had to be a hobbit, elf, or dwarf, would you be a hobbit, then?" Here's how Keyes responded:

That’s a tough choice. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be a dwarf, because I think the dwarfs represent the industrial side of things. The hobbits represent the hidden virtue that resides on a façade of comfortable consumerism. And the elves represent the kind of wistful aspiration, that unwillingness to surrender the ideal even as it fades into the past. I guess there’s something about that that corresponds with my own life. So in the end I would be an elf.

Keyes also discussed the morality of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings in an unenlightening 2002 installment of his MSNBC talk show, Alan Keyes is Making Sense. (The name of that show never ceases to amuse me.) At the start of the program, Keyes announced that he'd watched Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Rings four times in the theater--more often than I had at the time.

It's bad enough when people assume that only geeks, weirdos, and elementary school boys like reading Tolkien. Adding Alan Keyes to the mix almost makes me ashamed to be a Tolkien fan!

Posted by Ed at August 5, 2004 11:00 AM

Sorry Ed, your comments on Keyes' LOTR geekiness just convinced me to overlook Keyes' anti-abortion stance and vote for him.

Posted by: David at August 5, 2004 06:39 PM

Why would Keyes' mistaken views of LoTR convince you to vote for him? Dwarves don't represent the industrial side of things? If anything in LoTR symbolically represents industrialism (both in the book and in the movies), it's Saruman.

Posted by: Mathew Wilder at August 6, 2004 11:24 AM

Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but I took his Dwarf comment to mean that they love making things, being productive and industrious, which is certainly true. I believe the dwarves were created by Alue, the Hephaestus of Tolkien's mythology. However, there are places in the books where the dwarves are criticized for their avarice and obsession with things unnatural, so the more literal interpretation of Keyes' comments still holds.

Of course, his LOTR obsession is not the only reason I would vote for him. He seemed to a very consistent advocate of free enterprise and a detractor of environmentalism, which are good things in my book. His Christianity is annoying, but beggars can't be chooser, I guess.

I am not so concerned about that, because I have noticed that the Christian Right has pretty much failed to get many of their policies enacted during the last administration, the partial-birth abortion ban being the notable exception. But, one of the centerpieces of their platform, the Family Marriage Amendment, as well as faith-based initiatives, prayer in schools, etc have fallen by the wayside.

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