An Eccentric time machine special

This year, we thought it would be fun to celebrate Thanksgiving by looking back at what LEO was thankful for in years past. This led us back to what was effectively LEO’s first Thanksgiving issue in 1991.

The unsettling thing about going back in the Eccentric time machine is, while the world changes, you realize so many things stay the same. The following was written 26 years ago by LEO’s long-haired forefather (now clean-cut, buttoned-up congressman) John Yarmuth.

What is remarkable are the similarities between the issues of then and today. In 1991, Klan Grand Wizard David Duke was a Louisiana candidate for the U.S. Senate. Duke lost his election — a repudiation of his divisive, bigoted ideology. Today, the same could be said, about a Senate candidate in Alabama.

There are also echoes of that which is good in our community — that Dare to Care and Kentucky Harvest continue to feed the hungry, for instance.

So, I suppose it’s best to say that we are thankful for those who never stop fighting. Whether you are fighting against hatred and bigotry, or fighting for the hungry… And we’re thankful for you to allow LEO to play a role.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Cruel
Nov. 21, 1991

When all the columns arrived for this issue (mine, per usual, being last), I was somewhat surprised that none carried the Thanksgiving theme. So while I was planning to take the issue off — having worked so laboriously on my State of LEO message — the rush of blessings that kept coming at me, like enemy starships in a video game, compelled this musing.

Of course our first blessing is a Duke-less Louisiana. Maybe eventually we’ll be sorry he lost; better to have let him fail miserably and be totally discredited. But at this juncture in America’s evolution — a word strikingly uncomfortable in a sentence about David Duke — his election would have been acid in the widening gash that divides this society.

It was sadly amusing to listen to a debate over whether Duke had truly changed his hate-mongering attitude. Any person who has done what he has done and felt what he has felt and preached what he has preached, may have the right to change his mind and rejoin society, but he has irretrievably lost the right to lead decent society. A democracy can never risk handing the reins (or reigns) to a person who has stood for such undemocratic ideas.

Unfortunately, while we should be grateful for his defeat, we should be concerned that some politicos are using his effort as a rallying point for divisive policies. Thirty-nine percent of the vote in an election does not constitute a mandate for anything. Duke’s message was soundly repudiated in a state which has a deplorable heritage of racial hatred. The argument can be made, and probably sustained, that Duke got only the votes of racists. I’m not willing to give him one ounce of credit. I hope the rest of the media doesn’t either.

All of us in Kentucky should be thankful that the following campaigns are over: (1) the gubernatorial election; and (2) the Cardinal and Wildcat football seasons.

We should all rejoice with Jerry and Madeline Abramson over their newly-adopted child. And we should marvel at the fact that nobody in the media got wind — nary a zephyr — of the event until Hizzoner announced it.

I personally am thankful that recent medical research has indicated that consumption of red wine reduces chances of heart attacks. I think I’m safe well into the next century.

There’s not too much to add to the saga of Magic Johnson, except to give thanks for his strength of character, and for the many lives that his personal tragedy will save.

Finally, let’s be thankful for, and supportive of, the two organizations that do so much to help hungry people in our community — Dare to Care and Kentucky Harvest — Thanksgiving is a holiday based on food, after all; so don’t be turkeys, make some contribution to them or to hungry people you know.

Happy Thanksgiving.

—John Yarmuth