costa's hummer

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Censorship and the blame game

Douglas Preserve Sunset © Robert Sommers 2014
I haven't felt real sociable of late, engaging in a bit of self pity, wound licking and mostly enjoying my own sorry company. The last two shows weren't real terrific. Palm Springs was a lot better than Santa Barbara, a very expensive place to stay with surprisingly lousy food. I have killed there many times before but we all have our day. Even the millionaires are complaining that they are broke. Rocky times.

I fell asleep four or five times on the way home the night before last, arriving just after midnight. It was pretty brutal. At one time I actually turned my lights off on the freeway for a second, don't ask me why, a major synaptic fail and what the fuck moment. My sudden brain melt probably gave me enough energy to make it home in one piece.

Still fighting the cold too.

If you aren't really feeling into people, sometimes books are the next best thing. I read a good one yesterday, Obscene in the Extreme, The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. The book was written by Rick Wartzman, who wrote another book that I want to read, The King of California.

This book starts its mission by acquainting the reader with the nuts and bolts of the Bakersfield banning of the Grapes of Wrath. But it does so much more.

It fills in a lot of the history of the titanic battle between big agribusiness and a migratory labor force that they bought on the cheap. The huge growing concern, Associated Farmers, the goliath in this play, had law enforcement and the cities in their hip pocket and they ruled with an iron fist, even enlisting the KKK on occasion. Anyone that championed the rights of the poor or the worker or who tried to unionize was immediately branded a communist and dealt with harshly and in some cases terminally.

There were a mess of shootings and tear gassings by the growers and their proxies that people have now basically forgotten. Oklahoma dust bowl refugees were treated like blacks in the south.

I drive the Highway 99 a lot. This book brings the little company worker towns like Arvin, Shafter and Weedpatch into a different light. Highly recommended.

Klinghoffer- photographer unknown
I have been a bit transfixed with the controversy surrounding the staging of the John Adams' Opera The Death of Klinghoffer at the Met.

I wrote several letters to the New York Times in reaction to this article but they unfortunately didn't make it past the censor.

If you are not aware, Leon Klinghoffer was the elderly gentleman, an american jew, who was shot in the head and chest, then pushed off the Achille Lauro into the sea by the Palestinian Liberation Front in 1985, in his wheelchair.

I have not seen the now 23 year old opera but it has inflamed passions with its apparent mission to rehumanize the terrorists so that we can better understand their grievances and actions.

The woman who wrote the libretto, Alice Goodman, feels a bit persecuted by the reaction to her work and claims she hasn't been able to get a job in decades since, ostensibly because of the power of that big jewish lobby that we hear so much about.

By the way, Alice was raised jewish but is now an anglican deacon or vicar. She shares the zeal of the newly converted with Bob Novak, Bobby Fischer and Mendelssohn, the hebrews evidently making her life totally miserable.

Just to be on record, I do not favor censorship of any kind. People have a right to view the piece and to peacefully protest the piece as well. What bothers me is the question of moral equivalence and the tendency of blaming the victim.

Many of the comments to this article showed a deep bigotry in regards to a certain population. Two of the comments in the Times caused me to raise an eyebrow.

Shaun says murder of Klinghoffer was terrible but the murder of thousands of Palestinians was correspondingly worse. Tough luck, Leon. You're not going to escape responsibility for this one.

Rubout thinks that the old man probably had it coming for opening his mouth and his purported abrasive personality. You just don't do that around terrorists. You know how they act out. Blame the 69 year old man.

I find Alice Goodman's opinions and musings most disturbing. This is a two year old interview with the Guardian. Interesting read.
"...But her libretto gave voice to his murderers' motives. "Yes. It was suggested that I was making excuses for murder." Which she wasn't? "No, I don't think there's any excuse. All the hostages had been moved on to the top of a covered swimming pool. Mr Klinghoffer's wheelchair would not go up there. He was shot below decks and his body thrown into the sea. I think in many ways he was killed as a wheelchair user more than anything else."
So Klinghoffer didn't die because he was a loudmouth jew or worse, zionist, he was merely an invalid and therefore inconvenient. Interesting. You exhibit an astounding sense of empathy there, vicar.

There was another telling interview with Goodman in 2005 in the Los Angeles Times.
"The important thing for me," she has said, "was to make everyone human. That doesn't mean abdicating moral responsibility or even abdicating judgment, but it did mean not putting a finger on the scales."
I have two immediate reactions. One is that this is an all too common liberal indulgence these days, everybody is human, everyone has good reasons for their perfidy, no matter how heinous their crime.

But it would be interesting to substitute Osama Bin Laden, Charles Manson, the killers of Matthew Shephard for the killers of Klinghoffer in this passion play and imagine the hue and outcry that would arise. Tell me, why did Klinghoffer have to die for our sins again?

It is fashionable, especially in enlightened liberal circles, to excoriate you know who, those genocidal jews. Everybody is responsible for the barbarity of the victimizer, there is no act so heinous that it can not be justified. It is like a visit to Strasberg or Stanislavsky, what exactly is their motivation? Because all humans are, of course, equally guilty.

But Goodman does in fact tip the scales. Here is a recent tweet of hers:

She is obviously free to despise Israel, jews, her parents or herself, or frankly anybody else she wants to. But she should not pretend that she is a neutral party. I am also free to find her and her ilk despicable and detestable.

I think that I should also note that I do not know of a single jew that thinks he or she is perfect, infallible or incapable of being just as big an s.o.b. as anyone else in this world. You don't need to spend so much time pointing it out. We get it.

unaltered version
The Danes have a new way of dealing with returning terrorists, they are making them feel comfortable.
"... in Denmark, a country that has spawned more foreign fighters per capita than almost anywhere else, the port city of Aarhus is taking a novel approach by rolling out a welcome mat. In Denmark, not one returned fighter has been locked up. Instead, taking the view that discrimination at home is as criminal as Islamic State recruiting, officials here are providing free psychological counseling while finding returnees jobs and spots in schools and universities. Officials credit a new effort to reach out to a radical mosque with stanching the flow of recruits."


Anonymous said...

An entire country with Stockholm syndrome - Denmark. Why not build a comsulate for the Caliphate while you're at it. You can decorate it with that awful fifties Danish furniture. That'll teach em.

Anonymous said...

And one of my favorite totally tasteless anti semitec jokes ever:

How do you make a Klinghoffer cocktail?

Two shots and a splash.


Remember you could be sitting in a cubicle in a short sleeve shirt and a clip on tie. At least we get to do this. You're really good at it, you will prevail.


Anonymous said...

For my previous intemperate remarks about Israel I was captured by Archangels and put on the rack. They haven't dislocated my right arm yet as I am compelled to write "Silence is golden" 75,589,666 times.

Blue Heron said...

Jon, I always appreciate your viewpoint, especially when it is contrary to my own.

grumpy said...

how anyone can justify or excuse Mr. Klinghoffer's murder is beyond me..as an Episcopalian (and therefore an Anglican) i am appalled...

Anonymous said...

Who's the guy wearing pj's with the heads on display behind him? Is that the world IS would give us? Feel free to use my tax dollars to smoke those cocksuckers...

Anonymous said...

Beyond Klinghoffer - http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2014/10/21/beyond-klinghoffer-operas-composer-and-librettist-have-a-broader-jewish-problem#.VEfQl-d0ym8=