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Monday, September 22, 2014

David Brooks, "Snap Out of It": What About "The Murder of Klinghoffer"?

Over the course of recent weeks, we have witnessed an effusion of pseudo-philosophical trash by David Brooks on the op-ed page of the New York Times. The titles of some of these opinion pieces: "Startling Adult Friendships," "The Mental Virtues" and "Introspective or Narcissistic?." Today, however, Brooks's Times op-ed entitled "Snap Out of It," describing the wonders of New York City, takes the cake. Brooks writes:

"I’ve been living in and visiting New York for almost a half-century now. One thought occurs as I walk around these days: The city has never been better.

There has never been a time when there were so many interesting places to visit, shop and eat, when the rivers and the parks were so beautiful, when there were so many vibrant neighborhoods across all boroughs, with immigrants and hipsters and new businesses and experimental schools."

Regarding American cities and suburbs in general, Brooks continues:

"Of course there are the problems of inequality and poverty that we all know about, but there hasn’t been a time in American history when so many global cultures percolated in the mainstream, when there was so much tolerance for diverse ethnicities, lifestyles and the complex directions of the heart, when there was so little tolerance for disorder, domestic violence and prejudice."

And according to Brooks, the world has never been a better place:

"Widening the lens, we’re living in an era with the greatest reduction in global poverty ever — across Asia and Africa. We’re seeing a decline in civil wars and warfare generally."

Given this rosy outlook, it is no wonder that Brooks doesn't deign touch on yesterday's protest against the staging of "The Murder of Klinghoffer" by New York City's Metropolitan Opera. The opera depicts the 1985 murder of Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old American Jew, confined to a wheelchair by a stroke, who was shot by Palestinian terrorists while celebrating his 36th wedding anniversary aboard the Italian cruise ship "The Achille Lauro." Mr. Klinghoffer's body and his wheelchair were thrown into the Mediterranean by the terrorists.

In an editorial on Friday entitled "The Met Opera Stands Firm," subtitled "‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ Must Go On," The New York Times went on record as saying:

"Music critics and opera lovers have found the opera, by John Adams, moving and nuanced in imagining a tragedy that gives voice to all sides, from the ruthless and aggrieved terrorists to Mr. Klinghoffer, an innocent Jewish-American who makes some of the opera’s most powerful points in denouncing violence as a political tool."

Ah yes, a "nuanced" opera giving "voice to all sides" regarding a grizzly murder. I understand that next season the Metropolitan Opera will be staging "The Deaths of Foley and Sotloff," so as to provide operagoers with a "nuanced" view of the decapitation of these journalists by ISIS, so as "to give voice to all sides."

Judea Pearl, the father of the American journalist Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and decapitated in Pakistan in 2002, has responded to the Times editorial in admirably restrained words:

"In joining protesters of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of “The Death of Klinghoffer,” I echo the silenced voice of our son, Daniel Pearl, and the silenced voices of other victims of terror who were murdered, maimed or left heartbroken by the new menace of our generation, a savagery that the Met has decided to elevate to a normative, two-sided status worthy of artistic expression.

We are told that the composer tried to understand the hijackers, their motivations and their grievances.

I submit that there has never been a crime in human history lacking grievance and motivation. The 9/11 lunatics had profound motivations, and the murderers of our son, Daniel Pearl, had very compelling 'grievances.'

. . . .

What we are seeing in New York is not an artistic expression that challenges the limits of morality but a moral deformity that challenges the limits of the art.

This opera is not about the mentality of deranged terrorists, but about the judgment of our arts directors. The Metropolitan Opera has squandered humanity’s greatest treasure: our moral compass, our sense of right and wrong, and, most sadly, our reverence for music as a noble expression of the human spirit.

We might someday be able to forgive the Met for decriminalizing brutality, but we will never forgive it for poisoning our music, for turning our best violins and our iconic concert halls into megaphones for excusing evil."

Thank you, Mr. Pearl.

Of course, The New York Times is not finished demeaning those who are protesting this grotesquerie. In an article in today's Times entitled "At Met’s Opening Night, Protesting a Production," Michael Cooper informs us:

"On Monday morning, Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, in the Bronx, led a small group in prayers for Mr. Klinghoffer on Monday morning in a small park across from Lincoln Center. He said that he 'absolutely' hoped that the Met would cancel the production. Like many opponents, he said he had not heard 'Klinghoffer': 'I’ve not seen it, but I’ve heard enough about it and I don’t want to see it, frankly.'"

Or in other words, if you haven't seen it, you can't judge it. Fascinating. I suppose those of us who have not read "Mein Kampf" from cover to cover cannot judge its "merits."

Yes indeed, as David Brooks would have us know, it's just a wonderful, wonderful world.

1 comment:

  1. typo alert: "Mein Kampf"

    As to the MetOpera's decision to stage this opera:
    1) the author of the libretto, Ms. Goodman, should be examined;
    2) Perhaps the Oct. 24th performance is celebrating the beginning of the Islamic New Year?

    Thanks for posting Mr. Pearl's eloquent statement.

    Also, thanks to Rabbi Weiss for his protest the night the opera on stage is Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro".

    I wonder if Lincoln Center secretly seethes over the new synagogue for the Lincoln Square congregation next door?

    Somehow, Harry Reid will blame the Koch Brothers for this MetOpera controversy...

    Thanks, JG