26 February 2008

Art and politics

Today's episode of Soundcheck on WNYC discussed the NY Philharmonic's recent trip to North Korea (sanctioned by the Bush administration, so enough with the knee-jerk liberal-bashing...). Norman Lebrecht feels great consternation towards the decision, calling it somewhere ... between morally inappropriate and aesthetically offensive. The short argument is that the Philharmonic plays into the propaganda of the Kim Jong-il regime. Lebrecht then mockingly rebuts a quote from music director Lorin Maazel:

[Maazel:] People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw bricks, should they? Is our standing as a country -- the United States -- is our reputation all that clean when it comes to prisoners and the way they are treated? Have we set an example that should be emulated all over the world? If we can answer that question honestly, I think we can then stop being judgmental about the errors made by others.
The unreality of these arguments is almost beyond disputation. North Korea is a rogue state that flouts international law, threatens nuclear war and starves its own people. The U.S. is a democracy which, despite lapses in its treatment of prisoners after 9/11, is committed to the rule of law and the rights of the individual. Any comparison is illusory.

I was immediately reminded of a comment on Reddit this morning regarding the kangaroo court that is Guantanamo: Imagine for a second if sick garbage like this was reported out from China - the right wingers would fall all over themselves to point out how corrupt the system is there. Odd that when we act morally degenerate and those responsible insist on the nobility of those actions, the actions are merely lapses and we are still committed to the rule of law and the rights of the individual, yet others' moral corruption and flouting-of-international-law are unconscionable. The discussion on the show brought up South African apartheid (in defense of isolation) and the more recent Cuban embargo (in defense of diplomacy). And, not to forget a recent example from North Korea, it took the Bush administration to open diplomatic relations with North Korea to get them to shut down their nuclear tests.

[ posted by sstrader on 26 February 2008 at 3:17:22 PM in Music ]