Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 855 (since 2009-11-22 01:46:18)

composer, educator, political, environmental and arts blogger from Wasilla, Alaska


Showing comments 855 - 801

  • Coming Soon: A new Mondoweiss
    • I've been following Mondoweiss since the beginning. To celebrate your newest upcoming iteration, I plan on making a donation. You cannot be thanked enough, though.

  • Democratic Party leader echoes Netanyahu's new theme: Hamas equals ISIS
    • In Gaza 2014:


      In Gaza 2014, Hamas fighters managed to inflict about 90% of their casualties on military personnel who had invaded, or were preparing to do so. That is not like ISIS. OTOH, the IDF inflicted mass casualties upon civilians, including hundreds of children, in operations showing an ISIS-like cold disregard for the lives of people who are viewed dimly by their leadership, or deemed unworthy of consideration as fully human.

  • 'Common Dreams' website traps Hasbara troll spewing anti-Semitism
    • Well, we already know that Lance Tapley has motored or has somebody monitoring this thread.

      I challenge you, Lance, to be brave and do the right thing: Check with legal counsel at CD and determine whether you have obligations to go further than you appear to have gone to protect the identity of these young Black athletes from further illegal incursions. I respect journalists protecting their sources, but that is not the case in what you have discovered.

      Is it more important to protect this "Beck" who only means harm, or to ensure some measure of protection to the people he has defamed?

    • There are several DeShawn Williamses. One is currently playing football at Clemson. Another played basketball for the Air Force Academy. DeShaun Wliliams played basketball for Syracuse. There are others, none non-Black, to my knowledge.

      The fact that "Beck" intentionally defamed a young Black athlete through use of a college computer system begs the question: Should we contact Lance Tapley and Common Dreams ED Craig Brown, urging them to report this to the NCAA, the NAACP, the ADL, the administrations of the various DeShawn Williamses schools and athletic programs, and the administration of the college at which 'Beck' defamed the student or students, urging an investigation and action?

      Additionally, can we mobilize any of the people who were so outraged at Prof. Salaita's non-defamatory tweets to come to our assistance in unmasking this creep?

  • Israeli ship heads out of Oakland - again - after five days of extraordinary protest
    • The ILWU has been and remains the most progressive of major labor unions in the western USA and British Columbia. In Anchorage they are by far not only the most progressive of our labor unions, but the most active in asserting the rights of workers outside of their own affiliation. Individual members are active, outside of the union's own involvement, in Palestinian, Native Alaskan and immigrant rights causes. Their ability to show up to protest or picket anti-union or anti-civil rights moves by employers on very short notice here is almost legendary. Unlike some of the Alaska labor unions, they are well enough indoctrinated by their leadership and shop stewards to not vote against their own interests in local, statewide and national elections.

  • Salaita’s stellar teaching record exposes political motivation behind his firing
    • Six years ago, I had a student in my music history class who was an excellent student, but was a fundamentalist Christian of the young creationist variety. She came to my office in tears one morning. Paraphrasing:

      Her: Prof. Munger, could you possibly help me?"

      Me: Any time I can [she was a close friend of my daughter]

      Her: My anthropology professor is LYING to us!

      Me: Oh dear. What kind of lie?

      Her: He is saying the earth is BILLIONS OF YEARS OLD!!!

      Me: It most likely is.

      Her: Oooohh!

      Me: It isn't to early to drop. Maybe you can take geology instead.

    • Nine years ago, I had a young woman in my music history class who was an excellent student, but was a fundamentalist Christian of the young earth creationist variety. She came to my office in tears one morning. Paraphrasing:

      Her: Prof. Munger, could you possibly help me?"

      Me: Any time I can [she was a close friend of my daughter]

      Her: My anthropology professor is LYING to us!

      Me: Oh dear. What kind of lie?

      Her: He is saying the earth is BILLIONS OF YEARS OLD!!!

      Me: It most likely is.

      Her: Oooohh!

      Me: It isn't to early to drop. Maybe you can take geology instead.

  • 'Lesson: The Jews will defend themselves even if it means killing children'
    • Replying to Elliot:

      I’m curious why your wife chose JVP and not any other organization working on the issue?

      We both donate widely, thought not as much as the NYC Philip Munger (Charlie Munger's very wealthy, somewhat progressive philanthropist son, who donors sometimes have me confused with when seeking funding). I never asked why she chose them, but she probably reacted to a powerful appeal from them. We also donate to Code Pink and Alaskans for Palestine, and have donated to several orgs devoted to justice for Palestinians in the past, like JfJfP in London and the ISM.

    • I'd hesitate to make that statement, Mooser, unless I had a PhD in "Nazi Studies." /s

      As absurd as parts of this comment thread are, Yaacov Lozowick's email response to Phil Weiss is truly troubling. The Allied bombings and shellings of highly populated areas in France in general, and Normandy in particular in the summer of 1944 were morally indefensible, and in almost every case, militarily stupid.

    • Elliot,

      My wife is a member of JVP, but she is not Jewish. 50,000 in one month is a lot. Is anyone estimating what percentage of new members of JVP are not Jewish?

  • Gruesome tales surface of Israeli massacres against families in Gaza's Shujaiya neighborhood
  • Hillary Clinton's 11th-hour diplomacy
    • Unless there is some unforeseeable event, Hillary Clinton will be the first woman serving as president, from 2016 to 2020 or 2024. I have no idea how she might govern, but she has made me very uncomfortable for quite a few years.

  • 'Bombing the Dead' -- Max Blumenthal in Gaza
  • 15 airplanes to fly over NY and NJ beaches with Israeli flags and We Love Israel banner
    • “Those who suffer from it are prone to violence, and then pretend to be the victim of that violence. “

      --- and their motto is "He (or she) hit me back first!!!"

  • Reading Salaita in Illinois—by Way of Cary Nelson (part 1)
    • "Go missing" is vague. Unfortunate wording, perhaps, but it can merely mean to be lost or having disappeared. "My iPhone has gone missing."

      When I was in the Army, soldiers who wished to "go missing" usually hoped to slip out to an off-base bar while on duty. I've chastised students for having "gone missing or fishing."

      I wish 95% of the illegal settlers would "go missing" to a bar in Tel Aviv or in the Long Island suburbs - and stay there. I would welcome them here in Alaska as my next-door neighbor.

      Maybe the last 5% would want to stay and become Jewish citizens in a new, non-hostile environment. Probably not much higher percentage than that would want to stay in a polity where they did not have the upper hand at all time over people they view as different from and subsidiary to themselves.

    • Ironies abound as this esteemed professor of poetry and poetics gets more than a dose of poetic justice for what is increasingly looking like his egregious, intentional tort against Prof. Salaita. I hope Prof. Michael Dorf reads Phan Nguyen's article here. Dorf's defense of Salaita is the best I've yet read, and Phan's dissection of Prof. Nelson's perfidy is something that must be making Prof. Cary Nelson's colleagues squirm at the thought of having to look this creep in the eyes at the next faculty luncheon.

      If there is a Benny Morris award for American scholars, surely Nelson warrants getting it. And if there is a Marcy Wheeler award for cogent deconstruction of a liar's defenses, Phan deserves it for this piece. Can't wait for part 2.

      If I were Nelson, I'd be lawyering up about now.

      Michael Dorf's article with interview:

      link to

  • The Walzer Problem
    • Gershon Baskin's NYT op-ed, "Israel’s Shortsighted Assassination," was posted on November 16, 2012, not Nov. 14, 2014, as written in Prof. Slater's end-notes.

      A very well-written article. I do hope Michael Walzer responds. Walzer's simplification of what Hamas represents now and over time is a serious lapse in his credibility as a preeminent scholar of Just War Theory.

  • US branch of the Jewish 'family' owes the homeland 'unconditional love' -- Rosner
  • Is the firing of Steven Salaita the beginning of a new Blacklist?
    • Social media policies differ in private, religious-affiliated or state-funded colleges and universities. They are also evolving. If there are universal standards for state-affiliated campuses like the University of Illinois, I am not aware of them.

      In two weeks, I'm starting my 43rd term teaching at a state-affiliated school.

      1. At my first big gig, an outdoor performance in 1995, I flipped off a bunch of bikers from my conducting podium, when they started their engines while we were performing The Star-Spangled Banner. Someone complained to the college director. He told them he would have done the same.

      2. In 1996, I insulted a powerful state legislator by dedicating a piece of music to him that predicted he would end up in jail for corruption. Massive complaints from Rep. Vic Kohring's avid RWNJ constituents. Once again, the college director stood up for me. The legislator reported to jail in 2007.

      3. In 2004, I insulted the Anchorage Chabad community with my music dedicated to Rachel Corrie. There were numerous calls to have me removed (I am merely a full-time adjunct). The deans stood up for me.

      4. In 2010, I conducted a poll at my blog, asking whether the term "Saint" or "Slut" was more applicable to Sarah Palin. Slut got 85%. My car was vandalized, but the college once again stood by me. The poll was ill-considered, but I was only asked to provide input to a social media working group considering policy revisions or changes, rather than admonished.

      5. My many essays and posts at my own blog, Firedoglake and on Facebook or twitter have sometimes been about as over-the-top as Prof. Salaita's have been. I have never been called upon to tone them down by my employer.

      That being said, I have been excruciatingly careful in my classrooms to not expose the classes to my ardent views on Palestinian rights. It is impossible to teach cultural history without it being obvious that I am very liberal, but I encourage all viewpoints and urge students to express whatever they can defend.

      I'm ignorant of the stature of the campus in question's Native American Studies program, but Salaita IS highly regarded. It can be a contentious field, especially at schools with large Native American student bodies, like where I teach. But that hasn't even entered into this rescission, which is part of what concerns me the most.

      Until we know something about what exposure to the University of Illinois' social media policy Prof. Salaita has already had to deal with, it is hard to pin this down, but I think he probably has a case. Prof. Nelson should STFU and stop calling Salaita an "anti-Semite" in print at Electronic Intifada. From what I am learning of Salaita's work, Nelson's claim should be tried in civil court as a malicious tort against the former.

    • And in the comments, Prof. Nelson can't seem to be able to back away from that keyboard.

    • The most important political lesson of the Salaita case is this:

      that criticizing the crimes of the Israeli state is the new McCarthyism.

      I am hoping that the most important political lesson of this case will be that if one hires a competent legal team, the school that breaks the contract gets taken to the cleaners. I am heartened that Prof. Salaita is keeping pretty mum. Good luck, Steve!

  • The Greenhouse propaganda—How Gazan history is being rewritten to dehumanize Palestinians
    • I've yet to see a definitive article about who profits in Israel (or elsewhere) from the elimination of local industries in south Lebanon, the West Bank or Gaza, after what seem to merely be egregiously cruel bombings or shellings of agriculture, milk production, poultry production, bakeries, transportation distribution infrastructure, fuel storage and building supplies. Maybe somebody has already written it, but I haven't come across it.


    • Good to see the record set straight.

      As an ardent greenhouse grower myself, I have been following the Gaza greenhouse issue since before 2003, when the Jewish settlements were still prospering in the Gaza Strip, albeit, at greatly prohibitive financial burden to the Israeli government.

      At that time, the IDF was routinely destroying Palestinian greenhouses in certain areas. As Rachel Corrie noted, just days before her murder in March, 2003, by the IDF (in a lyric I created from her emails to her family):

      Feel sick to my stomach a lot
      from being doted on all the time,
      very sweetly,
      by people who are facing doom.

      You can always hear the tanks and bulldozers
      passing by.

      I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers
      outside our house
      and you and me inside.
      Tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses
      the livelihoods for 300 people.
      Then the bulldozers come and take out
      people’s vegetable farms and gardens.

      This happens every day.

      I think that I should at least mention that
      I am also discovering a degree of strength
      and of basic ability for humans to remain human
      in the direst of circumstances.

      I think the word is dignity.

      I wish you could meet these people.

      Maybe, hopefully, someday
      you will.

      [emphasis added]

      Packaged neatly in the false meme about Palestinians destroying all those greenhouses the nice settlers left behind in full running condition, is the other false notion that before Hamas took over political machinery in the Strip, the Israelis and PA got along famously in helping Gazans find commercial outlets for their products. Hasbara goat shit.

  • Hollywood's latest blacklist shadows Bardem, Cruz, Almodovar
    • Number of calls I got to sub with jazz, blues, Dixieland or "Ooh-Pah" (traditional German bar music) before writing and attempting to perform "The Skies Are Weeping" in 2004 - 25 or more per year. Number of calls since - one in 10-plus years.

      It wasn't Alaskan Jews who stopped calling for me to sub, though one -
      Randall Craig Fleischer - cancelled all plans to continue to perform my Piano Concerto. It was people who didn't want their bands' gigs messed with in terms of bookings, etc. Or they believed the newspaper op-eds that claimed my music was anti-Semitic, not even having heard it.

      Initially, I was dismayed. But I appreciate knowing who is scared by this.

      It IS mortal combat if you let it keep you down. Some of us develop workarounds.

  • 'One nation, one state, one leader' -- frightening slogan at Tel Aviv protest
  • On being accused of anti-semitism by well meaning liberals
    • Pamela: Thanks. Have at 'em!

      I have made a copy that includes multiple embedded HTML links to articles that underpin what is stated in the list. Phil W. has my email address, if you would like me to find a way to send the complete list to you.

    • 1. We don't send hundreds of billions of American tax dollars to the North Koreans so that they can drop or shoot white phosphorus and artillery shells onto or into schools and hospitals.

      2. We don't write tax policies that enable the Han Chinese to invest in housing projects that eject Tibetans from their homes in Lhasa.

      3. We don't have a State Department chief spokesperson whose husband developed an expansionist policy paper for the Iranian government.

      4. We don't cater to lobbyists from Sudan who constantly encourage us to go to all-out war against a neighboring country that hasn't attacked one of their neighbors in generations.

      5. We don't have a Pentagon whose offices are stuffed with people with dual Somali-American citizenship, who manufacture false premises to march us into a series of wars in the heart of Africa.

      6. We aren't experiencing a time when a small group of ruthless Burmese generals and politicians have hijacked Buddhism, turning it into a militant version of what had once been a great religion, and branding anyone who doesn't believe in a Myanmar expansion version of Buddhism as anti-Burmese or anti-Buddhist.

      7. Additionally, no North Korean, Chinese, Sudanese, Burmese or Somali general, politician, general or warlord is openly bragging that the United States is fighting two wars and threatening to start a third one, on their behalf.

      8. The Prime Ministers of Egypt, Syria, Tunisia or Libya have not appeared in American political ads in the most recently run national election, advocating openly against the incumbent president.

      9. When a Saudi head of state visits our congress, we don't have a joint session for him, resulting in more standing ovations than our own President received in his State of the Union address.

      10. If the Ukraine government wants money for arms, our congress isn't there within minutes, voting in a resolution pre-written by the America-Ukraine Public Affairs Committee.

      11. Also, and importantly, there is no large body of American people
      who openly believe that we need to foster violence in North Korea, Tibet, China, Somalia, Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Burma, so that we may enable the second coming of Jesus Christ, and implement a new age. And there is no cynical tie-in between Columbian politicians who hope to bring money to their country because of some apocalyptic religious myth, and American fundamentalist sects who total in the tens of millions of misguided believers.

  • Israel, your brand is tanking
    • if there are really any “true blooded” American Indians anymore I will eat my hat

      1). Please define what "true blood" is.

      2). I live in Alaska. My wife works in rural, village Alaska. We both travel there frequently, and have many Native friends. Some clans, houses and other affiliations claim to be wholly indigenous. Should I let you test them for blood purity, or do you take them at their word?

      3). What flavor is your hat?

  • Evanston Public Library censors Ali Abunimah, saying issue is 'complex' and he'd need to be balanced (Updated)
    • If it has been "postponed," to what date has it been moved, Palikari? And - if you were to "postpone" an author's appearance at your library, would you inform her or him directly before posting the "postponement" on twitter?

    • My letter to the Evanston Library's Director:

      Director Karen Danczak Lyons,

      I was informed this morning that you have decided to cancel the upcoming book event featuring Ali Abunimah, who was to talk about his recent work, The Battle for Justice in Palestine. In a Saturday tweet from Evanston Public Library’s Twitter account, it was announced that "We will reschedule Ali Abunimah's talk. With this complex issue, we now plan to schedule more speakers on other dates too.” Apparently, the author found out about this cancellation through social media, rather than by a courtesy call from you or your staff.

      On May 28th, I hosted Mr. Abunimah at Firedoglake’s weekly Book Salon. The book salon’s editor understood that the book raises “complicated” questions, yet saw no need to cancel the author’s appearance or to “schedule more speakers” for some reason or another, to balance or offset what Mr. Abunimah has written about, or might have written in his salon comments.

      Mr. Abunimah is a compelling writer, journalist and commentator. I hope you are aware that in his many appearances over the past few months to speak or write about his book, no credible person has raised a single issue claiming Mr. Abunimah’s book is questionable in terms of accuracy, veracity or content.

      To have cancelled this important voice on such a timely issue appears to me - and to a host of others - as blatant, perhaps even craven censorship. The method of letting the word out on this cancellation through social media before ensuring the author had been informed should be held up as a sterling example of unprofessional behavior on your part, or on that of your staff.


      Philip Munger

  • Who broke the ceasefire? Obama blames Hamas against the evidence
    • "American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer during the 2004 attack on Rafah"

      --- Rachel Corrie was murdered on March 16th, 2003.

      Otherwise, an excellent article. However, somebody should develop a detailed, chronological timeline of as many operations by both sides as are traceable through statements or social media entries, running up to the so-called "ceasefire" start time. This article should cast significant doubts on claims that Hamas alone broke the "ceasefire."

  • Liberal Zionists' denial of Israeli racism heightens danger to 'everyone living in this land' -- Blumenthal
  • Photo Essay: Israeli soliders destroy Qawasmeh and Aisha family homes in retribution attack
    • The term Storm Trooper was first used in 1915, and was only later continued in use by the 3rd Reich's military units.

      The concept of "Stormtroopers" first appeared in March 1915, when the Ministry of War directed the Eighth Army to form Sturmabteilung Calsow ("Calsow's Assault Detachment" or SA Calsow). SA Calsow consisted of a headquarters, two pioneer companies and a 37mm gun (Sturmkanone) battery. The unit was to use heavy shields and body armor as protection in attacks.

      link to

  • 'I was a Zionist till I was 64. I want to hit myself'
    • Just after 30 seconds into the video, a couple shows up behind Tzvia. The guy (with the lime green shoelaces) sits down in the previously empty lime green chair. The woman who accompanied him slowly walks by Tzvia and Phil. He stays there the entire time Phil interviews her. They appear to have had this group under surveillance. Watch his studied detachment. As Phil states he is breaking off the interview, he watches Phil more closely and gets a bit more animated in his phone conversation. Does anyone recognize this couple?

  • Jeffrey Goldberg leads the charge on latest BDS smear: Presbyterian Church divestment is anti-Semitic because David Duke supports it
    • The dogged anti-Communist, Winston Churchill, shortly after the 1941 German invasion of the USSR: "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."

  • 'Forward' editor says Presbyterian vote was anti-Semitic
    • That didn't come across very well on my part. Sorry. I was just informing you and other readers that I am viewing this as an outsider. I don't regard the "Holy Land" as any more holy than Oslo Fjord or Fukushima Prefecture.

    • Look, RoHa, MahaneYehude1, DaBakr and hophmi:

      1. Sorry I got the author's name spelled incorrectly.

      2. Anyone who doesn't object to the settlements and supports Israel supports militant expansionist Zionism. She has been wan at best.

      3. Few of my scores of Palestinian friends deny a Jewish link to the so-called "Holy Land." All accept a Jewish presence there. hophmi has created a straw dog equivalence.

      4. Whatever the feelings of some Israelis regarding the centrality of this geographical area to most Christian sects, very few commentaries about the growing BDS movement's relationship to organizational Christianity, when they cry about these sects' wanting to wash their hands of this mess, address this important issue in any perspective. I may have missed an article or two, but haven't found any. You are welcome to supply some links.

      5. "I can not see any sense in the argument that Israel has been bad for Christians. It hasn’t." Bullshit.

      1947: 1,200,000 Muslims, 630,000 Jews, 143,000 Christians. Almost 2 million. 14% Christian, 52% Muslim, 31% Jewish.

      2011: 2% Christian, 17% Muslim, 75% Jewish. So, this was good - a reduction of percentile of population by a factor of 7X? Instead of being 47% as large as the Jewish population, they are now 1/35th the size. This is your definition of good? What is your definition of bad?

      6. Some of these (alleged) acts occurred in so-called Judea. Some occurred in so-called Samaria. Some happened on the Israeli side of the so-called Green Line. A few happened in southern Lebanon, or western Syria or Western Jordan. All but the nuttiest of Christians view the flight to Egypt of the baby Jesus as myth.

      7. For RoHa - I'm not a Christian. I'm sort of UU.

    • There is a major problem with militant expansionist Zionism's defenders such as Judith Eisner. On the one hand, they chastise organizations like the Presbyterians for breaking off so-called "dialogue" when they refuse to support or at least stay out of the way of ethnic cleansing in Israel-Palestine. Yet, on the other hand, the Zionists refuse themselves to acknowledge the basic centrality of this physical area to the Presbyterians, and to all Christian faiths:

      Places where Jesus probably went:

      Bethlehem: birth
      Ænon on the Jordan River: possible baptism
      Betharaba on the Jordan River: possible baptism
      Bethsaida: healed a blind man
      Cana: Jesus’ first miracle
      Capernaum: the beginning of Jesus’ ministry
      Chorazin: rejection of Jesus by Nazarenes
      Gennesaret: multiple healings
      Mount Tabor: transfiguration
      Nain: Jesus raises the dead
      Nazareth: Jesus upbringing, finding in the temple
      Sea of Galilee: prominent in Jesus’ narrative
      Decapolis: healing the deaf-mute
      Gerasa: cast out demons
      Sychar (Shechem:) the Samaritan woman at the well
      Bethany: raising of Lazarus
      dinner with Simon the leper
      beginning of palm progression to Jerusalem
      Bethesda: Jesus heals a paralytic
      Bethpage: where Jesus sent disciples to get the mule he rode into Jerusalem
      Calvary: Jesus’ crucifixion
      Emmaus: resurrected Jesus appears
      Jericho: Jesus heals the blind
      Caesearea Phillippi: Jesus predicts his impending death

      None of these events, supremely important to practicing Christians, happened in the Sudan. Jesus didn't heal Lazarus in Darfur. Her didn't speak to the multitudes in Fallujah. He wasn't baptized in the Congo River. He wasn't transfigured in Tibet. He didn't walk on water in northern Nigeria. He wasn't tried in Cairo. He wasn't crucified in Pyongyang.

  • Why I pull against the U.S. in the World Cup
    • I coached youth soccer for most of a decade. Had the 2nd best win-loss record for a coach in league history. I still attend local high school matches - my kids' alma mater's (Colony High School in Palmer, Alaska) boys' team was once again state champs late last month. Whenever I travel to Europe, I make a point of going to at least one match, if in season. I follow the Seattle Sounders, and my daughter attends Seattle Reign (their new women's team) games regularly.

      Although I will be cheering on the US team, I don't expect them to get to the top four. We have only done that once. A long time ago.

      I agree with Phil W's sentiments, though. I'm not going to lose interest in the Cup after our inevitable demise. I've watched all the matches in the Group of Death (G) so far, and really enjoyed the frustrating tie yesterday between Germany and Ghana.

      I love what soccer does to participants' bodies, as opposed to football (American-Canadian) or even baseball. The kind of cardiovascular system kids develop when they pursue the game vigorously in early youth is a benefit they carry with them for their life.

      I do wish our culture found ways to get more kids to play sports like this all through their youth and into adulthood. But around 6th to 8th grade, in schools and in community teams, we begin to separate the talented and strong from the rest, and raise them up above, into jockhood. We don't really have an infrastructure that gives opportunities to slower, more unfit kids. Schools and colleges fund intramural activities far, far less now than they did 50 or 25 years ago. Consequently, young people lose interest in physical fitness, and remain uninterested in active engagement for the rest of their lives.

      We focused intensely on supporting our two kids in their sports and fitness, with both becoming Alaska regional champions and with our daughter becoming an NCAA gold medalist (women's rowing WWU 2008). Now they are coaching young people and keeping fit, because they developed bodies that crave and love the feeling of intense activity. We never cared so much whether they won or lost, as we cared that they loved competition and achievement, and didn't get hurt.

  • Observations on the Met’s cancelation of the 'Klinghoffer' simulcast
    • John Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for musical composition in 2003 for his September 11th elegy, On the Transmigration of Souls. I wrote yesterday to each recipient of that same prize in subsequent years: Paul Moravec, Steven Stucky, Yehudi Wyner, Ornette Coleman, David Lang, Stev Reich, Jennifer Higdon, Zhou Long, Kevin Puts, Carolyn Shaw and (my longtime friend) John Luther Adams.

      Dear Pulitzer Prize in Music recipient,

      I am writing an open letter to each composer who has won the Pulitzer Prize in Music Composition since John Adams won it in 2003. I am asking you to support Mr. Adams.

      The Metropolitan Opera will present his second opera, The Death of Klinghoffer this fall. On Tuesday, the opera’s general manager, Peter Gelb, announced that the Met will not broadcast the opera, as had been planned. He bowed to pressure from censors.

      This doesn’t normally happen these days. Mozart had to put up with censors in the 18th century. Verdi had to put up with censors in the 19th. Shostakovich had to deal with them throughout most of his career in the 20th, and Aaron Copland was blacklisted from the movies for ten years for not snitching on his colleagues.

      Mr. Adams stated Wednesday, responding to queries about this censorship and its impact on how people understand this work, “‘I’m just afraid that most people will have a sort of Wikipedia opinion about this opera,’ he said. ‘They’ll say, “Oh, that’s the opera that’s been accused of anti-Semitism,” and leave it at that. And that’s really very sad — it’s very hard when something’s been stained with an accusation like that, it’s almost impossible to wash it out.”

      Thank you for considering my request.

      Philip Munger

      I haven't received any replies yet.

  • After ADL says opera is 'biased' toward Palestinians, Met cancels broadcast, citing rising anti-Semitism
    • The content of the open letter I sent today to each of the Pulitzer Prize winners in musical composition since John Adams won in in 2003:

      Dear Pulitzer Prize in Music recipient,

      I am writing an open letter to each composer who has won the Pulitzer Prize in Music Composition since John Adams won it in 2003.

      I am asking you to support Mr. Adams.

      The Metropolitan Opera will present his 2nd opera, The Death of Klinghoffer this fall. On Tuesday, the opera’s general manager, Peter Gelb, announced that the Met will not broadcast the opera, as had been planned. He bowed to pressure from censors. This doesn’t normally happen these days.

      Mozart had to put up with censors in the 18th century. Verdi had to put up with censors in the 19th. Shostakovich had to deal with them throughout most of his career in the 20th, and Aaron Copland was blacklisted from the movies for ten years for not snitching on his colleagues.

      Mr. Adams stated Wednesday, responding to queries about this censorship and its impact on how people understand this work, “‘I’m just afraid that most people will have a sort of Wikipedia opinion about this opera,’ he said. ‘They’ll say, “Oh, that’s the opera that’s been accused of anti-Semitism,” and leave it at that. And that’s really very sad — it’s very hard when something’s been stained with an accusation like that, it’s almost impossible to wash it out.”

      Thank you for considering my request.

      Philip Munger

    • Today's NYT has an extended interview with John Adams about this. In it, he states that the radio transmission will also be cancelled, which wasn't clear yesterday, as WQXR radio seemed to indicate the radio transmission would not be censored:

      Mr. Adams, one of America’s foremost composers, said that he did not understand why the cinema transmission and radio broadcast were still being canceled if Mr. Gelb and the Anti-Defamation League agreed that the work is not anti-Semitic, though some critics have said otherwise. And he said he had been concerned by what he called “the really completely unjust charges” about his opera, especially by people who have not heard it.

      “The really ironic and sad fact is that the content of this opera is more relevant in 2014 than it was even in 1991, when it was premiered,” Mr. Adams said. “I think the people that are inflamed and upset about its production are people who are intent about trying to control their message. By canceling it, the Met has yielded to that intimidation.”

      Mr. Adams, who praised Mr. Gelb’s support of his work and his “grit and determination” to stage “Klinghoffer,” said that he feared that without the global transmission, which is often followed by television broadcasts, many thousands of people would be deprived of the chance to see the work and make up their own minds about it.

      “I’m just afraid that most people will have a sort of Wikipedia opinion about this opera,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s the opera that’s been accused of anti-Semitism,’ and leave it at that. And that’s really very sad — it’s very hard when something’s been stained with an accusation like that, it’s almost impossible to wash it out.” [emphasis added]

      link to

    • The Chorus of Exiled Palestinians from The Death of Klinghoffer by John Adams. From Penny Woolcock's film of the opera:

    • I don't believe it applies to the Met radio network, just to the in-theater HD performances, which are almost uniformly superb, and a great, inexpensive way to introduce kids and opera skeptics to the genre. John Adams is one of America's most distinguished artists, a Pulitzer Prize winner with five Grammies and a number of honorary doctorates from prestigious universities such as Harvard sand Yale, etc. To do this to someone so highly esteemed means that some very explicit, perhaps nasty funding threats were made from past and current donors to the Met.

      I prefer the other John Adams, John Luther Adams, who just won the Pulitzer Prize for Become Ocean, recently performed in NYC by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. I call John Luther Adams "the real John Adams," but I'm biased - he's a longtime, dear friend.

    • Jeff Pezzati was a nom-de-blog of a white supremacist punk rocker in the LA area. He sent me the blacklisting letter as a hoax. I had my college's police and Arts and Sciences Dean investigate the letter. Neither John Adams nor any other composer has complained about The Skies Are Weeping.

    • Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, Leon's daughters, have objected to the opera's portrayal of their father from its first production through the present. The composer has addressed their concerns since they became known.

    • I love this comment at the WQXR article Phil Weiss links to above:

      In response to concerns expressed by the Roma, Mr. Gelb has agreed to no longer produce Carmen, as it portrays Gypsies as thieving smugglers with loose morals. The Met will also cancel all productions of La Boheme and La Traviata, due to concerns expressed by the Tuberculosis Foundation and various anti-vaccination groups. And last I heard, both the Japanese-American Citizens League and the US Navy are in discussions with Mr. Gelb concerning depictions of Japanese people and US Navy officers in Madama Butterfly...

    • just,

      I have tried to follow the performance history of Death of Klinghoffer since its premiere in 1991. At the time, I was seriously considering writing an opera about Edward Teller's role in Project Chariot, a late 1950s plan to use four hydrogen bombs to create a new harbor in northwestern Alaska. I wanted to model it somewhat after John Adams's first opera, Nixon in China, so was interested in how Adams's voice was developing in his second opera.

      All through its history, some individuals and Zionist organizations, and members of the Klinghoffer family have objected to one aspect of the opera or another. The first objection to which Adams responded was his depiction of some of the Klinghoffer's friends, and his creation of fictional characters to portray them. They were perceived to be caricatures of some sort of Jewish stereotype. Adams deleted the scene. At least two scholarly papers have been written about how this deletion marred the opera's form and balance.

      The most authoritative person to claim the opera is anti-Semitic and romanticizes terrorism is the curmudgeonly Richard Taruskin, now a professor of musicology at Cal Berkeley.

      As recently as last winter, the LA Opera pulled out of a co-production of the opera, leaving Long Beach Opera to produce it alone, which was a heavy financial burden for the company.

      The most often-performed extract from the opera is a set of choruses, depicting displaced Jews and displaced Palestinians, in turns. They are choral masterpieces. Before September 11th, 2001, the Boston Symphony and chorus has programmed the work to be performed that fall. They cancelled after numerous complaints that the choruses "romanticize terrorists."

      The composer's responses to criticisms and cancellations over the work's 23-year history are studies in restraint. The opera is more like an oratorio or passion than what we generally consider to be an opera. More opera-like than most of those by fellow minimalist Philip Glass, Adams really does succeed in having a neutral point of view. Apparently that isn't enough for some who are upset whenever Palestinians are treated even-handedly in comparison to Israelis or to Jews.

      On the other hand, my cantata, The Skies Are Weeping, which you refer to above, does not take a neutral point of view. When some local Zionist friends suggested I change it to give it a neutral point of view, I replied that to do so would not honor Rachel Corrie's memory. My work, like Adams's, has been criticized for "romanticizing terrorism," by which the complainants are referring to Rachel Corrie. I find that characterization of her to be deeply offensive.

      I was looking forward to seeing this opera in the HD format. Adams's Dr. Atomic was presented that way by the Met two seasons ago, in a vibrant production. This sucks.

  • Enter Ken Pollack and Tom Friedman-- the Iraq experts!
    • Good find. Has anyone done a compilation video with many of the most important false or hyperbolic statements made during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and the period up to the beginning of the insurgency?

    • It is about time for some courageous film director to produce a Dr. Strangelovian black comedy about these people who were so fucking wrong about Iraq, yet somehow are still employed mansplaining all this to us. This alone should disqualify Pollack from being given public platforms on anything having to do with Iraq, Syria or Iran:

      Consequently, in purely economic terms, it is unimaginable that the United States would have to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars and highly unlikely that we would have to contribute even tens of billions of dollars [to rebuild the country]. The United States probably would have to provide $5 to $10 billion over the first three years to help get Iraq’s oil industry back on its feet, initiate the reconstrution of Iraq’s economy, and support the Iraqi people in the meantime… redeveloping infrastructure and other basic costs. However, the need for direct U.S. aid should decline steeply thereafter.

  • 'Numb, speechless, sad', Israel supporters grieve Cantor's loss
    • Well, scratch the "Big Murkowski" move - at least for now:

      Cantor huddled early in the day with key aides and trusted former staffers behind closed doors and told them he would not try his luck with a write-in campaign.

      "I am not going to do a write-in. I am a Republican and proud of that," a source quoted him as saying.

      The source, who requested anonymity to describe the private get-together, said Cantor was “the most upbeat guy in the room.”

      link to

    • He can't run as an Independent, but he can, as PJM is quipping today, "Pull a Big Murkowski":

      The possibility remained, though, that Cantor could attempt the same move that let Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to keep her seat.

      In 2010, conservative Tea Party favorite Joe Miller, backed by Sarah Palin, knocked Murkowski out in the primary. After failing to find any other route to ballot access, Murkowski launched a write-in campaign and defeated Miller — becoming the first senator in more than five decades to win her seat via write-ins.

      link to

      Two other articles along the same lines:

      link to

      link to

      I'm not sure the political environment in Cantor's House district is ripe for him to outperform the wan Democratic Party candidate or the brand new Prof. Brat. Brat is going to get a lot of media attention, much of it positive, particularly in his district. However, his writings, which seem to be extensive, are already being closely scrutinized.

      I don't see Cantor going meekly into the night. He's proven to be a big fundraiser for the GOP outside of his district. And he's likely to be able to call in some major favors from donors has has helped.

  • 'Will FIFA free our sons?': International football associations discuss the Israeli occupation ahead of the World Cup
    • Ironically, the Israeli government used this same article in March this year to request Russia’s expulsion from FIFA for its “military occupation of sovereign Ukraine.” The request may not have been entirely genuine: if Russia was expelled from the 2014 World Cup in Brasil the replacement team would have been Israel.

      Why am I not surprised?

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