There is perhaps nothing more unifying in human life than music. Its appeal transcends every division between us—political, religious, racial, sexual, etc. It brings people together.
Until now. The last few years, it has become apparent to most reasonable people that a new age has dawned on the Left. A cleavage has occurred between liberals and leftists. Let me explain. A liberal has his views, and is content to let you have yours. A leftist, on the other hand, has his views, and won’t be content until no one else has yours (at least in public).
And the leftist wing of the Left seems to be winning. We’ve seen it time and again on our streets with riots and the destruction of lives and property. We are seeing it more and more on our universities, where conservative speakers have been disinvited, physically attacked, and riots have broken out in “protest” at them even being invited. In some cases, leftists are even attacking professors that agree with them on virtually everything but refuse to give in to their more repressive instincts. See, for example, professor Bret Weinstein at Evergreen College.
Fortunately, a growing number of liberals—people who believe in same-sex marriage, legal abortion, and the welfare state—are beginning to recognize the danger of the leftist ideology in their midst.
That gets me back to music. Recently, conservative public intellectual Dennis Prager was invited to guest-conduct the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra. Dennis is a lifelong lover of classical music, and while an amateur, has conducted various symphonies throughout his life, including the august Los Angeles Philharmonic. His favorite composer is the great Franz Joseph Haydn, whose 51st Symphony he will conduct on August 16 at the world-famous Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Unless, of course, the leftists get their way. A campaign including the mayor of Santa Monica, some of its city council members, and various LA-area professors aims to boycott the concert. Why? Because he is “a right-wing radio host who promotes horribly bigoted positions.” According to them, having Dennis conduct will “normalize bigotry in our community.”
Anyone Who Disagrees With Us Is a Bigot
This begs the question: how? Leaving aside the debate over what constitutes “bigotry” and whether Dennis is a “bigot” (which he most certainly is not), how exactly will this “normalize” anything other than the performance of good music? There is absolutely nothing political about the event.
So there are two potential answers to this question—one ignorant, the other sinister.
The ignorant answer is that performing Haydn normalizes bigotry. While such an answer doesn’t seem beyond the pale for many leftists (after all, Haydn was a white, cis-gendered, heterosexual male), they never objected to Haydn, and this seems too absurd for even them.
But the sinister, and indeed unavoidable answer is this: that by virtue of his conservative political opinions, the very person of Prager is tainted, and is itself a “normalizer of bigotry.” If the music isn’t doing it, and words won’t be, then the only alternative is that the very person, the very presence of Dennis is doing it.
One of the mantras Dennis frequently employs on his show is “I prefer clarity to agreement.” Indeed, that is precisely what this event has done—it has clarified.
It has clarified that leftists find conservative participation in music-making, an otherwise unifying, apolitical, and community-building activity for all, unacceptable. It has clarified that leftists only “tolerate” the civic and cultural participation of those who share their political beliefs.
It has clarified that leftists insist on excluding—dare I say segregating—those upon whom they’ve pinned the scarlet letter of political heresy. It has clarified that leftists insist on injecting politics into absolutely every area of our lives, even the “issue” of who conducts Haydn symphonies! It has clarified that “tolerance” is merely a weasel word. It has clarified that “bigotry” is acceptable so long as non-leftists are its victims. It has clarified that for leftists, it is politics über alles—all other ties of humanity be d-mned.
Unlike His Detractors, Dennis Prager Is Magnanimous
This is all the more incredible given how Dennis conducts himself personally and professionally. Dennis—a religious Jew and political conservative—has conducted thousands of interviews with those who disagree with him. Atheists, Muslims, Jews, gays, straights, Christians, Democrats, Republicans, you name it. Dennis not only hosts them, but gives them a platform to articulate what they believe to millions of people. Unlike most commentators, he actually lets them speak! He has his views, but he is entirely fine with you having yours.
We are supposed to believe that it is this man—not those trying to exclude him from merely conducting a symphony because of his politics—who is normalizing bigotry? What reasonable person could believe such overt, ostentatious, incoherent nonsense? A psychologist might call it projection. I call it what it is: bigotry.
On a personal level, Dennis is a friend. I have spent many hours with him and his family, often over weekends celebrating Shabbat (the Sabbath). He is quite simply one of the finest men I know. On top of that, I’ve rarely met someone whose love of classical music meets or even exceeds my own. Every time we are together, we listen to it with great joy. This usually involves us waving our hands, humming, and singing along. I’ve rarely seen someone tear up as easily as Dennis over great music. It touches his soul in a powerful way, as does sharing it with others. He makes everyone around him feel welcome and at home—regardless of their politics.
In short, leftists praise “tolerance” with their words, while Dennis does so with his life. As Samuel Adams observed, “How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!” I leave it to fair-minded people everywhere to decide who is actually “normalizing bigotry.”