Culture

Another Left-Wing Attempt at Ostracism

(Photo: Stokkete/Dreamstime)
They’re trying to prevent me from conducting a symphony.

Most Americans are at least somewhat aware of what is happening at American (and European) universities with regard to conservative speakers. Universities either never invite, disinvite, or allow the violent (or threatened violent) prevention of conservative speakers. No non-left-wing idea should be permitted on campus.

But we may have hit a new low.

Let me explain.

For years, I have been conducting symphony orchestras in southern California. I have conducted the Brentwood, the Glendale, and the West L.A. Symphony Orchestras, the Pasadena Lyric Opera, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl. I have studied classical music since high school, when I first began playing piano and studying orchestral scores.

I conduct orchestras because I love making music; but I also do so because I want to help raise funds for local orchestras (I have never been paid to conduct) and because I want to expose as many people to classical music as possible.

After I conduct a symphony, I then conduct select parts of the piece in order to show the audience what various sections of the orchestra are doing. After that, I walk around the orchestra with a microphone, interviewing some of the musicians. Everyone seems to love it.

After intermission, the permanent, and professional, conductor conducts his orchestra in another symphony.

About half a year ago, the conductor of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, Guido Lamell, who is also a longtime member of the violin section of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, asked me whether I would be interested in conducting his orchestra. I said yes even before he added the punchline – at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

For those not up to date on concert halls, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which opened less than 15 years ago, is one of the preeminent concert halls of the world. Being invited to conduct a superb orchestra at that hall is one of the great honors of my life.

About a month ago, however, a few members of the orchestra, supported by some Santa Monica city officials, decided to lead a campaign to have me disinvited.

As I said, this is a new low for the illiberal Left: It is not enough to prevent conservatives from speaking; it is now necessary to prevent conservatives from appearing even when not speaking. Conservatives should not be even be allowed to make music.

To its great credit, the board of directors of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, composed of individuals of all political outlooks, has completely stood by their conductor and his invitation to me.

But the attempt to cancel me continues. It is being organized by three members of the orchestra, each of whom has refused to play that night. Readers will not be surprised to learn that two of the three organizers are college professors. Michael Chwe is a professor of political science at UCLA, and Andrew Apter is a professor of history and director of the African Studies Center at UCLA.

In an open letter to the symphony’s members, the three wrote: “A concert with Dennis Prager would normalize hatred and bigotry. . . . ”

Examples of my hatred and bigotry include my belief that in giving a child over for adoption, adoption agencies should prefer a married man and woman before singles and before same-sex couples. Another example – my favorite – is my having said that, if there is no God, ethics are subjective, will offend atheist members of the orchestra.

These are the types of academics who are giving universities their reputation for illiberal closed-mindedness. Such professors are not only ruining the universities as educational institutions, they are hurting them financially. The New York Times recently published an article on how many alumni are no longer donating money to the colleges they attended because of the war on diverse thought on their alma maters’ campuses.

Now they want to do to orchestras what they have done to the universities.

I hereby extend an invitation to Michael Chwe and Andrew Apter to come on my radio show to explain to my listeners why my conservative positions render me a hateful bigot, and to explain why people with conservative views should not be allowed to conduct classical music. I hope they accept – people will then be able to assess who is and who isn’t a hater.

Not to be outdone by these professors, a former mayor of Santa Monica and current councilmember, Kevin McKeown, wrote: “I personally will most certainly not be attending a concert featuring a bigoted hate-monger. The judgement (or lack of) shown in inviting Prager may affect future community support for the Symphony.”

However, there are other voices. The Santa Monica city manager, Rick Cole, does not agree with the former mayor: “This City supports the arts,” he said, when asked by the Santa Monica Lookout whether the Symphony’s invitation to me posed difficulties. “It appears that Dennis Prager supports the arts. The City, in funding a season of musical performances, does not choose what music is played or who plays it at any particular concert.”

I have devoted this column to this subject to expose the latest attempt of anti-liberal leftists – the real haters – to shut conservatives out of every form of intellectual and artistic endeavor.

Let’s combine a terrific evening at a great concert hall with a chance to defeat the illiberal Left.

Another reason is to ask readers in Southern California to attend the concert. Here is a rare opportunity to combine a terrific evening (especially if you’ve never attended a classical concert) in one of the world’s greatest concert halls with a chance to defeat the illiberal Left. The more people who attend on August 16, the greater the message that music must transcend political differences. And it rewards the Santa Monica Symphony board and conductor for their moral courage.

I will be conducting Haydn’s Symphony Number 51. Like Haydn, I think music is one of those few things that can bring people together. Clearly, not everyone agrees.

— 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 dennisprager.com. © 2017 Creators.com

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