Emotionalist Rousseauvian gibberish once again tries to lay claim to art.
In 1985, New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer, 69, and his wife Marilyn took a cruise to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary. Leon never came back: Four members of the Palestine Liberation Front hijacked the Achille Lauro, shot him in the head and threw him overboard in his wheelchair.
Starting in October, The Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln Center plans to show a mockery of this brutal murder — the long-dormant “The Death of Klinghoffer.” The title gives away the show’s agenda: Klinghoffer didn’t “die”: This World War II vet was murdered by terrorists.
The show has widely been denounced as anti-Semitic and sympathetic to the hijackers. Performances planned in Boston and elsewhere were cancelled shortly after 9/11. If it wasn’t then, what makes it acceptable now for Lincoln Center to glorify the murderers of a disabled New Yorker?
Do the so-called “humanists” at The Metropolitan Opera care that the permance will hurt Klinghoffer’s surviving children? After an initial screening of the show in 1991, his two daughters said, “We are outraged at the exploitation of our parents and the cold-blooded murder of our father as the centerpiece of a production that appears to us to be anti-Semitic.
“Moreover, the juxtaposition of the fight of the Palestinian people with the murder of an innocent, disabled American Jew is both historically naive and appalling.”
In this work of “art,” the hijacker Molqi sings: “We are / soldiers fighting a war / We are not criminals / and we are not vandals / but men of ideals.”
These lyrics fit with a recent letter from Peter Gelb, the Metropolitan Opera’s general manager. Gelb said, “John Adams has said that in composing ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ he tried to understand the hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists .?.?.”
What humanity can — or should — be found in the murderers of innocents? When do we get an opera painting the 9/11 bombers as “men of ideals?”
On stage, hijacker Rambo says “Wherever poor men / are gathered they can / find Jews getting fat / You know how to cheat / the simple, exploit / the virgin, pollute / Where you have exploited / Defame those you cheated / and break your own law / with idolatry.” This is plain and simple anti-Semitic language.
Now, there’s plenty to be said, theoretically, for creating characters whose romantic notions of their own ideals turn them into tragically self-blinded figures and, in the end, villains. These types are in fact a literary staple. But this is something else entirely, particularly if we believe the stated intent of the piece’s author / composer that he was trying to understand the “hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity” in what is quite obviously and quite ruthlessly disgusting and inhumane. There, we’re aren’t dealing with complex literary characters, regardless of the form of the piece and regardless of its potential “beauty.” We are instead channeling the ghost of Leni Riefenstahl.
The question then becomes this: why do so many among us feel that by looking for motivations behind blind ideological hatred they are somehow more erudite, nuanced, and worldly than those who see evil and immediately recognize it for what it is? Because that’s precisely the metadynamic here: This is nothing more than a feel-good piece for delusional bein pensant posers looking to fuel their phony cosmopolitanism and rank narcissism. This production is about its intended audience and its composer.
That it’s acceptable to romanticize the murder of a disabled American Jew by heartless terrorists — to “understand their motivations,” not in actuality, but filtered through the mind of some radical chic headscarf humper — at a time when savages are raping and beheading their way through the middle east, even as their ideological mouthpieces wear fancy suits and enjoy White House accommodations, is yet another sign of an American cultural ethos in decline — and more proof that the re-emergence of anti-Semitism isn’t something to take lightly.
When the patina of sophistication is applied to ennobling savages whose actions in every way reject any sane rationale for ennobling, what you have is not nuanced thinkers negotiating complex geographical, political, and emotional issues. Instead, you have propaganda dressed up as “art,” and a bunch of useful idiots being propped up as its monetary and radicalized benefactors.
(h/t Joy McCann via Facebook)