Tonight, the New York Philharmonic premiered a work by John Adams. Adams is probably the most famous and important composer in the world (classical composer). His new work is Scheherazade.2, a “dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra.”
Before the performance, Adams himself took a microphone and spoke to the audience about the work. He described how it came about. He had seen an exhibition in Paris about Scheherazade. Then he read Arabian Nights, and was appalled by the “casual brutality toward women” depicted therein. At the same time, he was reading of brutality toward women around the world: in Egypt, Afghanistan, and India, for example.
But we were not to think we Americans were exempt from this brutality. For example, you can “find it on Rush Limbaugh.” (Rush equals the Taliban or the Muslim Brotherhood, you see.)
To this remark, the audience responded with sustained and robust applause. In 1984, Orwell writes of the two-minute hate. The applause in Avery Fisher Hall did not last for two minutes, but it went on long enough.
Obviously, John Adams knows nothing about Rush Limbaugh. It’s a good bet he has never listened to Rush’s show or read an article by him. The same must be true of the audience members who applauded. But Rush is a hate figure on the left, a bogeyman. His name has almost magical power. And Adams must have known that if he invoked it, in the way he did, he would get agreement and applause from a New York audience.
This is a sick and twisted culture. It features that toxic combination of ignorance and hate.
Adams is a good composer, and this violin-and-orchestra piece is a skillful work (as I will write in a later review). But even if he wrote music as good as Mozart’s, he would not measure up to Rush Limbaugh. He apparently has nothing like the decency or goodwill of my friend Rush.
You’re never supposed to analogize anything to the Nazis. That’s the rule. But sometimes I break the rule. And I believe I got a whiff — just a tiny whiff — of Nuremberg in Avery Fisher Hall tonight. Collective hatred, and self-satisfied hatred, based on damnable lies.