NOW IT’S BACH, MOZART, AND AUNT JEMIMAJune 24, 2020
I admit, when I woke up this morning and found the following article by Paul Craig Roberts in my email inbox from M.W., I became angry. In fact, I'm still angry, so I apologize for writing this in the heat of a purple passion.
Consider that a "rant alert", level three.
But it was bound to happen sooner or later as the cultural swamp that is modern America continues to decline under the assaults of political correctness, cultural Marxism, the "Frankfurt school", multi-culturalism, call it what you will, because sooner or later (and I suspect sooner rather than later) those statues and pictures of J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Joseph Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin... you know, all those composers that form the core of our musical culture, will come tumbling down for some silly reason being advanced by people who are, essentially, witless barbarians and musical morons and self-annointed "perfect people". It will become a "hate crime" or a symbol of "white supremacy" to listen to it at all in a public venue. Better to take a knee, and listen to rap or hip hop to demonstrate your "wokeness" (sic). And we have to get rid of Aunt Jemima, in spite of what the family of one of her portrayers says, because ...well... we're really not told, but it has something to do with stereotyping or pancake inclusivity, or something that I can't figure out, but that's ok, because apparently Aunt Jemima's family can't understand it either:
Think I'm exaggerating? Well, ponder what Mr. Roberts has to say on the music matter:
Here's the core:
Classical music is inherently racist
– New Music USA
Faced with this observation, classical music is encouraged to renew itself. However, according to professionals in the sector, one of the major challenges is to change the image of a field perceived as “too white”. According to a report published in 2016 by the League of American Orchestras, blacks represent only 1.8% of orchestra members, and Latin Americans only 2.5%. Moreover, the vast majority of the works performed in the concerts were by composers of European origin, which is considered insufficiently “inclusive” in the United States. For example, the San Francisco Chronicle recently expressed regret that the city’s Symphony Orchestra will present almost exclusively compositions created by white men in the 2017-2018 season.
Too white, too old, the classical music sector is accused of being out of step with the country’s changing demographics. Indeed, projections by the US Census Bureau predict that the share of ethnic minorities in the population will increase to become the majority around the middle of the century, and would already represent 45% of the 18-23 age group. As a result, a number of American newspapers have recently denounced the fact that the classical music scene is considered too ethnically homogenous. The New York Times accuses it of being the “least diverse institution in the country” and of masking “a racist problem”, while the Seattle Magazine proclaims that it is necessary to “attack its whiteness”. The specialized press is not to be outdone: the National Public Radioconstate’s website says that the scene is “extremely white and increasingly marginalized,” echoing New Music USA, which for its part believes that “classical music is inherently racist.
These accusations are based on the following logic: if an institution has too small a proportion of people of non-European descent, it is suspected of masking a discriminatory recruitment process, or even a form of “structural racism”. Recently, this beam of criticism has hit a wide variety of fields, such as cinema (with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite), ice hockey (#HockeySoWhite), or the Silicon Valley business community (#SiliconValleySoWhite). In the name of economic performance or the principle of non-discrimination, each institution is thus scrutinized and judged on the basis of its degree of openness to “diversity”.
And all this in spite of a surge of its popularity in Asian cultures:
While classical music was banned during the Cultural Revolution, it is estimated today that about 50 million young Chinese are learning the piano.
In the field of classical music, this leads to prioritizing the recruitment of musicians from diverse ethnic backgrounds, modifying the canon of composers deemed essential to include artists of colour, or transforming the current concert format to offer collaborations with singers appreciated by young audiences, as proposed in the League of American Orchestras’ report entitled “How Diversity Can Help Save Classical Music”.
It is to be hoped that this project of ethnic recalibration will succeed in breathing new life into classical music across the Atlantic. Sceptics, however, will prefer to bank on the extraordinary enthusiasm of the younger generation of Asian Americans for this art form. The latter constitute a growing fringe of amateurs and professionals, contradicting the above-mentioned critics who see classical music as an area that is not easily accessible to ethnic minorities. Indeed, the children of immigrants from China, South Korea, Singapore or Taiwan are over-represented in conservatories, and pushed by their parents, who see this apprenticeship as a school of rigour and excellence. It remains to be seen, however, whether their demographic weight in the population will be sufficient to reverse the current declining trend.
But I rather suspect that the real rub - with all its subtle implications that were not spelled out in his remark because it might be career suicide to do so - were expressed by Lorin Maazel:
All these factors led Lorin Maazel, former music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, to say: “We need defenders of our classical music tradition, if classical music is to survive …
That pretty much sums it up in a nutshell: We need defenders, not just of our musical culture, but of our culture, period.
Why? Very simply, because we're watching whole swaths of our history and culture being obliterated in the name of a wacky moral perfectionism and secular Pelagianism that would burn books, paintings, statues, music scores, opera librettos and pancake mix by anyone who did not live up to that perfectionism, as defined by the Marxist mob the left in this country has become. And while Dr. Roberts doesn't say it in his article, I suspect that the project of "ethnic recalibration" of orchestras and so on to be "more inclusive" will not be satisfactory, because the real aim I suspect it to change the listening habits of people, and to destroy the cultural tradition of western civilization altogether. As far as music goes this can very easily be fixed by "social quotas" and can be tracked on your iphone. Over a certain percentage of listening hours per musical genre per week, and you might be guilty of "musical ethnic supremacy," but only, of course, if you're not a minority. The problem, of course, is that if the Chinese are learning Bach and Beethoven and Chopin, then there's something about that European culture that is transcendent of race. But they don't like to mention that, because that would start people asking some uncomfortable questions that, for the cultural Pelagianist, are best left unasked, because they lead to things like "grace" and the impossibility of utopias, and things like that.
OK. Rant over. I'm going to go have some pancakes and listen to some classical music...see you on the flip side: