Friday, September 18, 2020
New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Getty Images
Jonathan S. Tobin
Think some things are so beloved and essential to Western civilization they can’t be canceled? Think again.
If there’s anything we should have learned from months of “mostly peaceful” Black Lives Matter street protests, statue toppling and online mobs seeking to silence anyone who dissents against leftist narratives about “racism,” it’s that no one, living or dead, is safe from the attentions of woke fascists. Even Ludwig van Beethoven.
Beethoven’s work is not only at the core of the standard repertory of classical music; some of his most popular works have also become part of popular culture, their melodies recognizable even to those who’ve never heard an orchestral concert.
For the last 200 years, Beethoven’s compositions have also been symbols of the struggle for freedom against tyranny. The “Ode to Joy” from the conclusion to his Ninth Symphony remains the definitive anthem of universal brotherhood. It is no coincidence that the opening notes of his Fifth Symphony — whose rhythmic pattern duplicates the Morse Code notation for the letter “V” as in “V for Victory” — were used by the BBC for broadcasts to occupied Europe during the Second World War.
But to woke critics, Beethoven’s music has taken on a new, darker meaning. To musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding, stars of the “Switched on Pop” podcast produced in association with the New York Philharmonic, the Fifth Symphony is a stand-in for everything they don’t like about classical music and Western culture. As far as they’re concerned, it’s time to cancel Ludwig.
On Vox.com, the pair blame Beethoven’s music for what they consider to be a stuffy elitist classical culture that bolsters the rule of white males and suppresses the voices of women, blacks and the LGBTQ community.
Beethoven’s music was so profound and different that it did begin the trend of adopting rules of behavior at concerts, like being quiet during performances and holding applause until the conclusion. But the idea that such music is the “soundtrack” for “white privilege” and oppression is imposing a contemporary woke narrative on Beethoven that has nothing to do with his music or the way it’s performed.
This isn’t the first such attack on Beethoven. In the 1980s, a musicologist named Susan McClary caused a stir with a bizarre claim that analogized the Ninth Symphony to the “rage” of an impotent rapist. But while serious thinkers dismissed McClary, that kind of delusional leftist thinking has gone mainstream in 2020.
The BLM protests have inspired other assaults on the music world, such as New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini’s demand for racial quotas in orchestral hiring that would increase the number of black performers but also limit opportunities for Asians, who are disproportionately overrepresented among modern musicians. Elsewhere, the late opera star Richard Tucker’s son David was pushed out of a family foundation that aided young singers, simply because he criticized BLM rioters and praised President Trump.
There’s something to be said for loosening up some of the informal rules of attending a classical concert. But Sloan and Harding write as if they haven’t been to a concert in 40 years: Modern concertgoers come in all sorts of attire and, if anything, many need to be instructed to turn off their phones and show more respect for fellow audience members and performers alike by shutting up.
They also haven’t noticed that orchestras and opera companies have spent the last generation falling over themselves trying to promote music written by black, Hispanic and female composers.
Some of this new music is good; a lot isn’t. But if audiences still prefer Beethoven it’s not because they’re embracing a symbol of white supremacy. They want more Beethoven and the other great white European composers, like Brahms and Mahler, who followed in his footsteps because they love it.
Indeed, without these white male immortals, orchestras like the NY Philharmonic, which were already struggling before the COVID shutdowns, would have even more trouble filling seats.
The attempt to cancel Beethoven ought to be a wake-up call for the music world and even those who aren’t classical fans: The war on Western civilization will leave nothing sacred untouched. If Beethoven can be canceled, nothing is safe.
The mental health hotline that’s a cornerstone of the $1.25 billion mental health plan run by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife saw a 17 percent surge in calls during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — but still missed its annual target to actually connect people to services.
In fact, the number of “supportive connections” to suicide prevention, counseling and other services at first lady Chirlane McCray’s ThriveNYC declined by over 12,000 from 2019, when the city wasn’t experiencing a public health crisis.
NYC Well, a free and confidential hotline available around the clock, answered 17 percent more calls in May 2020 compared to the previous year. The hotline’s website also saw a 400 percent spike in visits in April 2020 compared to April 2020.
But the hotline made just 262,200 “supportive connections” for callers from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, down from 274,400 the previous year and short of its 268,600 target.
The data is buried in the annual Mayor’s Management Report that analyzes the performance of city agencies and holds government officials accountable.
ThriveNYC was included for the first time this year.
The report also reveals findings by an outside organization of international experts called the Science Advisory Group that said the Big Apple could see major changes to mental health treatment for New Yorkers “in the next five years” or at least five years after the start of the $1.25 billion plan in 2016.
The major milestones include “more New Yorkers with an identified mental health need receive treatment” and “fewer mental health emergencies, as measured by 911 dispatches and emergency department visits.”
Critics have called for an overhaul of ThriveNYC due to the costly program’s lack of metrics, transparency and inability to help the seriously mentally ill.
Thursday, September 17, 2020
MOB RULE! Attorney General Barr RIPS Democrats as He Warns U.S. Approaching MOB RULE Ahead of 2020 Election
'BIDEN OR NO PEACE'
'There undoubtedly are many people in the government who surreptitiously work to thwart the administration'
Alan Dershowitz. Getty Images
Lawyer Alan Dershowitz has hit CNN with a $300 million defamation lawsuit, accusing the cable network of distorting his words to portray him as an “intellectual who had lost his mind” during President Trump’s impeachment trial, according to media reports.
During the January trial, the Harvard professor raised eyebrows when he argued, “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”
He is accusing CNN of airing misleading footage in a “barrage of defamatory programming” that led to him being “openly mocked by most of the top national talk show hosts and by CNN viewers,” the Daily Mail reported.
He wants the left-leaning network to cough up $250 million in punitive damages and $50 million in compensation, the paper reported of the Florida suit.
Dershowitz’s statements came during the Senate trial in which Trump was accused of abusing his power and obstructing Congress for asking Ukraine officials to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Democrats accused Trump of illegally withholding $391 million in military aid to pressure Ukraine’s president into launching the probe.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had asked Trump’s attorneys whether quid pro quos were simply part of conducting foreign policy. Dershowitz, 82, responded that if Trump had self-serving motives, it would still be legal — a position that Democrats seized on.
But Dershowitz alleges in the lawsuit that CNN only aired a short segment of his answer to “fool its viewers” into believing he had argued that presidents could act illegally if they believed their re-election was in the public interest, the Mail reported.
“The very notion of that was preposterous and foolish on its face, and that was the point: to falsely paint Professor Dershowitz as a constitutional scholar and intellectual who had lost his mind,” the lawsuit states, according to the British newspaper.
In fact, Dershowitz had “unequivocally and unambiguously stated” that a president could not act illegally, the filing argues.
CNN didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
Dershowitz is embroiled in another high-profile defamation lawsuit. Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre sued the lawyer after he called her a liar for saying she was forced to have sex with him at the behest of the late financier. Dershowitz has denied her claim and counter-sued.