Tomorrow night the Metropolitan Opera will begin the New York premier of the new production of John Adams’s 1991 opera, The Death of Klinghoffer. I have written about this previously. The opera is based on the true story of the 1985 hijacking of cruise ship Achille Lauro by Palestinian terrorists and the murder of an elderly American passenger Leon Klinghoffer. Some people have ignorantly labeled the opera “anti-Semitic” and “racist,” which it is not. Sadly, there has been a push not only to protest the performances but to have them shut down completely. The anti-free speech crowd, however, did succeed in getting the HD simulcasts canceled so that those people who can’t travel to New York or afford to attend such performances could nevertheless view it on HD. Now they can’t, because of the selfishness and intolerance of political activists who apparently don’ t have the time to think things through. Only an ignoramus could possibly claim that this opera “glorifies terrorism,” as some people have suggested.
“Insiders” have informed Norman Lebrecht of Slippeddisc.com that “trouble is expected Monday night. Police will be on standby. Big demonstration expected on Amsterdam Ave. . . . If there is an interruption in the audience the cause will be found and removed. If necessary the music will be stopped and resumed after disturbance removed. High security in house.”
The “trouble” is not going to be caused by Islamists or Palestinian activists, but by intolerant people who allegedly “support” Israel. Among the protesters who probably won’t cause any trouble will be former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Now there’s someone who has been well–liked here at LRC, that’s for sure. We will see protesters with signs saying what a “racist” and “anti-Semitic” opera Klinghoffer is.
The critics cite speech within the opera in which some of the characters make anti-Jewish remarks, so they conclude that the entire opera is “anti-Semitic” and “racist,” and this is the main reason why they want the entire production shut down. Should we then ban To Kill a Mockingbird and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from libraries because those books use the word “n**ger,” a.k.a the “n-word”? Should we take Blazing Saddles DVDs out of stores and off Amazon.com? And by the way, do these protesters ever want to ban the operas by viciously anti-Semitic composer Richard Wagner? Hmmm?
Of course they don’t want to censor those things, because this isn’t about “racism” or “anti-Semitism.” It’s about Israel. “How dare you criticize or question Israel, or challenge the official narrative regarding Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict!” God forbid these people so offended might ever protest Israel’s slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians in Gaza, or the settlers taking Palestinian lands and homes, or would ever discuss how institutionalized racism is in Israel. Oh, but for some reason, the topic of Israel is so sensitive and delicate, we dare not discuss it, or present a musical drama associated with it that’s not in line with the politically correct mainstream mythology of the Land of Israel.
The offended ones who not only protest but want to censor and shut down a performance of a musical work remind me of the Islamic crazies who go after artists for drawing “Allah” in unflattering ways. C’mon, folks, it’s only an opera. These people really confirm for me that our culture’s decline can be seen not in some work of music depicting a terrorist hijacking but in the fact that political correctness and intolerance is definitely on the rise.1:47 pm on October 19, 2014