Two days after the New York Times declared that the Metropolitan Opera was right to go ahead with The Death of Klinghoffer, the father of another Jewish American held hostage and murdered by Islamic militants has added his voice to the chorus of protests at a rally today.
Professor Judea Pearl’s letter reads:
In joining you today to protest the New York Metropolitan Opera production of this opera, I echo the silenced voice of my son, Daniel Pearl, and the silenced voices of other victims of terror, including James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and including thousands of men, women and children who were murdered, maimed or left heartbroken by the new menace of our generation, a menace that the Met has decided to accept and orchestrate as just another activity of normative civilized society, just another phenomenon worthy of artistic expression. They tell us that the composer tried to “understand the hijackers, their motivations, and their grievances.
I submit to you that there has never been a crime in human history lacking grievance and motivation. The 9/11 lunatics had profound motivations, and the murderers of my son, Daniel Pearl, had very compelling “grievances.” In the past few weeks we have seen with our own eyes that Hamas and ISIS have grievances, too and, they, too, are lining up for operatic productions with the Met.
Yet civilized society, from the time of our caveman ancestors, has learned to protect itself by codifying right from wrong, separating the holy from the profane, distinguishing that which deserves the sound of orchestras from that which deserves our unconditional revulsion. The Met has smeared this distinction and thus betrayed their contract with society. I submit to you that choreographing an operatic drama around criminal pathology is not an artistic prerogative, but a blatant betrayal of public trust.
We do not stage operas for rapists and child molesters, and we do not compose symphonies for penetrating the minds of ISIS executioners. What we are seeing here in New York today is not an artistic expression that challenges the limits of morality, but a moral deformity that challenges the limits of the art. This opera is not about the mentality of deranged terrorists, but about the judgment of our arts directors. The New York Met has squandered humanity’s greatest treasure — our moral compass, our sense of right and wrong, and, most sadly, our reverence for music as a noble expression of the human spirit. We might be able some day to forgive the Met for de-criminalizing brutal minds, but we will never forgive them for poisoning our music — for turning our best violins and our iconic concert halls into mega-phones for excusing evil.
Slipped Disc supports the Met’s right to stage this production. The opera exists and has been staged in other countries. To perform it will provoke public debate on important issues. To suppress it would amount to a suppression of free speech.