Friday, February 08, 2008

Little Mazel Tov for Maazel's Distasteful Remarks

The Washington Times noted that NY Philharmonic conductor Lorin Maazel is more than a little irritated that some Americans are criticizing the orchestra's upcoming concert trip to the world's Heart of Darkness, otherwise known as North Korea:
"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw bricks, should they?" demanded Mr. Maazel. "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.
Sarah Bryan Miller in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gets right to the point posthaste:

For decades, some people have trivialized the horrors of Stalinism by putting McCarthyism in the same league. We can now update that comparison: the music director of the New York Philharmonic, Loren Maazel, has compared the United States to North Korea....

Because the insular country of North Korea is notable for (among other things) starving millions of its people, having one of the world’s most appalling records on human rights, pursuing an aggressive nuclear weapons program, and celebrating an astonishing second-generation cult of personality built around its (arguably insane) hereditary dictator, Kim Jong-Il, the Phil has taken considerable flak for its decision.

After taking a momentary, career-salvaging detour to issue a predictable, rote slap at the Bushies, Miller, thankfully regains her composure and her judgment:
If Maazel wants to claim that playing a concert for a collection of well-connected apparatchiks will help to foster international understanding, that’s his prerogative. But in attempting to put the United States on the same moral footing as the Stalinist hellhole that is North Korea, he trivializes the tragic sufferings of millions of people.
We agree. Maazel's casually thoughtless indulgence in moral relativism, which no doubt played well in New York, is another tiresome example of the entertainment world's generally adolescent grasp of world affairs.

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