Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Don't mess with their Opera!

The furor in Germany over the Deutsche Oper cancelling of a staging of Mozart's Idomeneo because it includes the beheading of several religious icons (Buddha, JC, and Mohammad) has been widely reported. The reason for the cancellation: the Muslims are going to be offended and don't come crying to the German polizei when they bomb the ass off your theater.
The Germans are throwing a fit. How dare anybody touch their kultur and their hard-earned freedom of expression? Remember, these people are traumatized by having been Nazis in the past, so this kind of self-censorship must be a huger deal to them than it would be to others equally burdened with modernistic, farshtunkene interpretations of the classics.
Now, they have every right to be outraged. If you don't like somebody else's depiction of your religion you can protest within the realm of the law. You cannot burn, bomb or kill people because you have been offended. If we all behaved with such volatile touchiness, we wouldn't last another week.

The other day I had a very unfortunate argument that went like this:
There are Muslims in Spain who have destroyed statues of Saint Santiago de Compostela, in the city that bears his name, because 600 years ago he persecuted Muslims. Be it far from me to defend a Catholic saint, who was probably not nice to the Jews either, but I think this is outrageous. If they don't like Spain and its historical heroes, they can live in a place where they like the heroes. I see no justification for destroying statuary. So my beloved friend tells me: it's as if there was a statue of Hitler somewhere. Meaning, how would you react?
This is such an grossly stupid argument I feel it is below me to even repeat it here and I wish she had thought before uttering it so as to save herself the shame of it.
First of all, pretty much everybody is in agreement that Hitler does not deserve statues. There are no public Hitler statues that I know of anywhere. Coming soon to Tehran, perhaps, but not yet. Still, even if there was a statue of Hitler somewhere, I doubt that Jews living in a country that had one, would destroy it. They would kvetch about it, send a community letter signed by all the rabbis and the big cheeses and they would kvetch about it some more and send obnoxious chain letters in the internet until someone got tired and took it away. Or they would emigrate. Period.
If Jews were to go about destroying every monument to the people who killed them and burned them and hurt them, there would not be a Catholic church standing, let alone many other public buildings in many different countries. Instead, we kvetch. Or we move away.
I am sick and tired of spurious comparisons and this tolerance of the intolerant.
Probably that stupid opera is soporific and pretentious and insufferable, but if someone does not like it, they they don't have to see it. They can see it and hate it or they can civilly complain about it. Its intent is obviously not to offend Muslims expressly, but to criticize all religions (which by the way is why Jews are so smart, we don't believe in idols that can be beheaded).
What we cannot allow is for the social contract of tolerance in which our peaceful, civilized, day to day existence is predicated on to be eroded by irrational maniacs who are bent on turning our society into a barbaric place, and the Pope into a wimp. And we have to stop being all nice about it and all politically correct about it.
The point is either they accept to live among a plurality of opinions, or they can live where there is only one opinion and it is strictly enforced. There is Afghanistan and there is Iran and Saudi Arabia and many places with this qualification. Nazi Germany used to be such a place, and look what happened.
There are a lot of things that offend me and I don't go threatening to destroy them. Don't get me started.

1 comment:

  1. It comes down to who is willing to be the most insane bully. Those of us with a kind disposition would never go to the trouble of firebombing an opera house, no matter what they decided to show. These lunatics will declare a holy war against you for merely speaking of their foolish religious symbols in a way they don't approve of. We can't let these voices of fanaticism and stupidity shout us down.