Sometimes the Good Guys Win

Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, Calif. (Reuters photo: Mario Anzuoni)
The Left won’t stop this symphony.

I am writing this column to inform readers of some good news.

The sustained efforts of individuals, organizations, and the media who oppose everything people like me stand for – America as an exceptional nation among the nations of the world; the unique contribution of the Judeo-Christian value system in shaping America and the best of Western civilization; sustaining Western civilization as a moral imperative; preserving the American Trinity of “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “e pluribus unum”; promulgating the American and Judeo-Christian belief that race is insignificant; and an openness to all points of view – to shut down my conducting appearance with the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall tomorrow night have failed.

Other than two rows of seats, as of this writing, the Walt Disney Concert Hall – with 2,265 seats – is sold out.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column titled “Another Left-Wing Attempt at Ostracism.” In it, I described the efforts of some members of the orchestra and some of Santa Monica’s political leaders, including an ex-mayor, to persuade orchestra members to refuse to play for me and to persuade people to refuse to attend the concert, where I am scheduled to conduct the Haydn Symphony No. 51.

UCLA professors Michael Chwe and Andrew Apter, both violinists with the Santa Monica Symphony, wrote in an open letter: “Please urge your friends to not attend this concert, which helps normalize bigotry in our community. . . . [Prager is] a right-wing radio host who promotes horribly bigoted positions.”

Apter told the Santa Monica Daily Press, “In the Santa Monica Symphony, to subject ourselves to the command of his baton is an implicit, if not explicit, endorsement of his bigoted ideas as a public figure.” And Chwe told that newspaper, “We object to Prager’s participation because he widely broadcasts bigoted views.”

The New York Times and NPR published derisive articles about me, and the Los Angeles Times published two such pieces.

Yet, despite all that, the intolerant ones lost. And lost big.

First, Disney Hall is sold out. And with every seat costing between $40 and $100 dollars, a significant amount of money will be raised for the orchestra.

Second, only about seven of the orchestra’s 70 players refused to play. Moreover, many other musicians asked to join the orchestra that night, including members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Third, the orchestra’s widely admired and loved conductor, Guido Lamell (who is also a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), and the board of directors of the orchestra, located in one of the most liberal-Left cities in America, held firm. The board unanimously re-invited me after the letters and articles attacking me came out. This was particularly significant since they had only narrowly – five to three – voted to invite me in the first place. To their everlasting credit, these people put the interests of their orchestra, of music, and of tolerance ahead of their political and social views – and they did so well before they had any reason to believe the hall would be sold out. Indeed, few expected it.

So, then, how was intolerance defeated? I think there were a number of factors.

First, to be honest, they picked a fight with a fighter. As I have sadly noted all of my life, more bad guys than good guys fight. On my radio show and in my syndicated column, I fought back. I had never said a political word in conjunction with any conducting appearance I have ever made, including this one, but once the real bigots started a fight, I responded.

Second, I didn’t fight alone. Virtually the entire conservative world united behind me. My column about the controversy was reprinted, or linked to, on almost every major conservative website. Many conservative writers wrote columns on the subject. There’s an important lesson here: when united, conservatives have real clout.

Third, because universities and others on the left regularly shut down non-Left speech, the Left has lost a lot of moral credibility. Therefore, a left-wing attempt, led by two UCLA professors, to shut down a concert in which a conservative conducts a symphony was just too much – for many liberals as well as conservatives, and even for some on the left. That is the reason, I am convinced, the New York Times wrote an article on this issue: The Left lost face in this matter, and it was therefore important to show that I really am the bigot that those opposing my conducting said I am.

When united, conservatives have real clout.

And fourth, when people learned what was happening, they filled the hall. The Left is always shocked to learn that at least half of America doesn’t agree with them. Whether at Google or at UCLA or at the Los Angeles Times, these people live in an intellectual bubble – they talk with, socialize with, dine with, marry, listen to, and read only those who think as they do. In other words, while we conservatives know them well, they don’t know us at all. Why bother knowing us? We are, after all, nothing more than deplorable, hateful bigots.


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— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at © 2017


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