On election day, a New York star reminds us: Words do matter

Some 11th-hour thoughts from Anthony McGill, principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic:



As I sat in the audience two years ago and listened to Elie Wiesel’s acceptance speech at the John Jay Justice awards, I took some notes so that I wouldn’t forget what he said. His words are particularly important today. Here is my version of what he said.

‘What does it all mean? What does it all mean? Words matter. Words move men. In the face of evil let us speak let us not remain silent. Silence equalled death for so many. Let us show gratitude. Gratitude everyday for being here. Let us smile. We are responsible to one another and for one another. What does it all mean. It’s ok not to know but it is best to be grateful for what we do know and not be blasé about this existence. Be moved. Live. Ask the tough questions. And speak up for justice.’

Donald Trump’s words do matter and they can change people and move people. In fact, they have. The words of another man took away Wiesel’s entire family and the families of so many others. It did happen, it could happen again. Let us not let ignore the words right in front of us in 2016 and let anyone take away or send away our many beautiful diverse families. Let us not deem political correctness or decency or politeness or kindness to be extinct. Let’s not let them con us into becoming that which we are not. I won’t stay silent. I’m with her.

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  • This makes my day. I already admired Mr McGill’s superb clarinet playing, in Paris and Cologne, during the New York Philharmonic’s last European tour. Now I admire the man even more. Thanks, Mr McGill, for this eloquent message.

  • Ho hum. Every Republican candidate is evil, the reincarnation of Hitler, etc. No joke: every one. In four years, Democrats will be comparing the opposition candidate unfavorably to Trump.

    As for “decency or politeness or kindness,” look at any university campus in the US. Oases of totalitarianism in a desert of freedom.

    • “…Every Republican candidate is evil, the reincarnation of Hitler, etc…”

      It doesn’t help that they keep running candidates who seem to aspire to that description.

      • So which Republican uprooted an entire ethnic group and packed them all off to camps? And which one described the opposition as “irredeemable”?

        • The only Presidents who did that in American history were both Democrats. Andrew Jackson made Native Americans make the long march to oblivion; and you need only ask Japanese Americans what Franklin Roosevelt did to them and the internment camps.
          But once you compare anyone to Hitler or Stalin, you’ve lost whatever argument you were trying to make.

    • Antiisemitism is particularly popular on American campuses, and to a lesser extent in the UK.. But that doesn’t fit the “progressive” narrative, does it? Easier to make ludicrously overblown comments about Republicans.

    • Nobody that I am aware of has actually said that. But it would behoove Republicans to start putting forward some better candidates than they have in recent years. Bush was a moron who let himself be talked into a totally wrongheaded invasion in Iraq, and he in turn talked his oldest ally into joining in the deplorable venture. McCain was respectable and experienced, and let himself be talked into taking aboard his ticket someone who made Bush look like a genius. Romney was insipid. And that shower that ran against Trump were trying to outdo each other in right-wingery.

      If I were American I would probably vote Democrat, and as such I am not much more impressed by their recent tickets, though Obama, whom I have tended to think of as a very minor President, may look better in retrospect than he does minute to minute. Opening relations with Cuba alone is valuable.

      If I were a US Democrat today, I would hold my nose and vote Clinton, as the lesser of two evils. Trump is far too loose a cannon to hold the office he seeks, and shows little tendency to take advice — good advisors have made modest men able Presidents. (Bush was very unlucky, though perhaps temperamentally disposed. to surround himself with rabid ideologues). At least Clinton has brains and experience of an appropriate sort — reality TV is hardly that.

      And, quite frankly, the rhetoric against Mrs. Clinton is just as vitriolic as any brought against the man who would expel undocumented Hispanics, have Mexico build a wall between the two countries and pay for it, forbid Muslims entry to the “home of the free,” and who shrills that unless eh wins the vote will have been rigged (how JUVENILE is that?). He is ignorant and volatile and inexperienced and unadvisable — do you really want the fingers of his tiny hands on the nuclear button?

      • If only there were more people with your mindset living in this country…

        The only solace I have left after this election is in the theory that, like addiction, our ‘political situation’ needs to hit rock bottom before it can improve. Trump will be this country’s rock bottom.

    • ““When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.”

      “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

      “Lyin’ Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!”

      “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

      “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

      “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her… wherever.”

      “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

      Um, what was that you were saying?

      And that barely scratches the surface. And I didn’t include any of the quotes that would be censored for foul language.

  • Yes, words matter. I’m one of those “deplorable” people CLINTON spoke about. She called me racist, homophobic, fear-mongering. She insulted my friends who aren’t college educated. She’s an elitist snob and has insulted at least half of the country. She’s a cheat, liar, and phony. Yes, words matter and we won’t forget.

    • She called YOU all those things? How did you come to know her?

      Or perhaps she meant that Trump’s campaign has attracted some people who represent some pretty seamy corners of the right, hate groups that include the Ku Klux Klan. In my book those folks are truly deplorable.

      Carry around a chip on your shoulder if you want, and don’t forget. And it would be truly deplorable if you did.

      Ben Franklin, who memorably once said “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately” would be really disheartened if he knew you.

      • Why would anyone care what a musician, a clarinetist, has to say about anything?
        AND why would anyone try and “reason” with a PROG defending said clarinetist?
        Waste of breath!
        And it’s so easy to be snide and condescending, n’est-ce pas?

    • “Yes, words matter. I’m one of those “deplorable” people CLINTON spoke about. She called me racist, homophobic, fear-mongering. She insulted my friends who aren’t college educated. She’s an elitist snob and has insulted at least half of the country. She’s a cheat, liar, and phony. Yes, words matter and we won’t forget.”

      By your vote you confirmed everything she said, and more.

      We will remember.

  • PLEASE keep the damn politics out of Slipped Disc. It’s not a forum for political views. For what it is worth the best definition of a “politician” is “a liar”.

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