This Is Awesome.

An unusually serious post follows. The editors apologize.

(Editor's note--please read also the post above this one. They are interrelated.)

Awesome, unbelievable, brave. Many superlatives apply. Sometimes, in this space, we lampoon the use thereof. But not now. Go read this:

My White House Dilemma

Leon Fleisher is a distinguished--very distinguished--pianist and sometime conductor. He is nearly 80 years old. Being honored by the Kennedy center is a major accomplishment. He was so torn by his feelings about the administration that he almost didn't go to the White House. The White House! Instead, he decided upon a small, quiet, non-racket-causing personal protest (a peace symbol necklace, etc...). This is most admirable.

Fleisher decided (if you read between the lines of his article) that accepting the award that celebrates freedom of expression was so important to him that he'd go to the White House despite his reservations about the current regime. And express his freedom.

His celebration of the freedom of expression bled into his choice of small wardrobe-based protest (the peace symbol, the ribbon). This is logical, poetic, and celebratory. I laud and applaud him. He is awesome.

Please, please read the post directly above this one.


Murderface said...

In light of the two posts, and not having read anything else on the subject (caveat!), I kind of wish Fleisher had snubbed the Kennedy Honors completely.

It likely would have caused a bigger stink (not necessarily what he was going for) and he might not live long enough to get the award from the next president (assuming that the next president would re-up the offer), but it could have started some real dialogue. Again.

Meanwhile, what the Iraqis really need (still) is clean water and fewer bullets in the air, not the troubled conscience of an elderly musician or the histrionics of a neoconservative columnist.

Aaron said...

"Meanwhile, what the Iraqis really need (still) is clean water and fewer bullets in the air, not the troubled conscience of an elderly musician or the histrionics of a neoconservative columnist."

Preach it, brother!

Although, on the whole, I prefer elderly musicians with troubled consciences to histrionic neocons.

Sator Arepo said...

@ Murderface,

Completely true, obviously. And I never would have read the op-ed in the National Review had Tony not sent it to me. And (obviously) it made me really, really angry.

But the elderly musician has no power to bring clean water or fewer bullets, so he did what he could. Which is awesome.

Murderface said...

I surely don't begrudge Fleisher either his acceptance of the medal or his public denouncement of the current administration's policies.

However, I state without censure that his decision was self-serving; a carefully calculated compromise made to placate both his ego and his qualms.

His article made it sound like he was doing it for future honorees, which strikes me as a bit disingenuous, but let that pass. You called it what it was, SA: a sensible, measured response.

Mona Charen's response, on the other hand, was wholly out of proportion to the situation: chock full of plainly manufactured outrage, distasteful and craven.

Now, taking the two of them together... well, if you can find one Iraqi in 100,000 who is aware of either Fleisher's "small, wardrobe-based protest" or Charen's column about it, I'll eat my goddamned hat.

P.S. How many different fucking colored ribbons am I expected to keep track of nowadays, anyhow? Fleisher and family wore purple ones? How the fuck do you expect anyone to know what that means, Maestro? According to wikipedia, it's supposed to "raise awareness [Oh, goody! Awareness!!] for Huntington's Disease, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Autism, Arnold-Chiari Malformation, Eating Disorders, Pancreatic cancer, and cancer survival." All capitalization is wikipedia's.

Oh for fuck's sake, it goes on to say that it stands for about eight other things, too. None of them are for "showing support for our young men and women in the armed services," Fleisher's stated motive. I guess he just coined that one. We should have another black-tie banquet to raise awareness of his Accomplishment in the Field of Raising Awareness that Purple Ribbons Can Also Be Used to Raise Awareness that the Wearer Supports the Troops, Whatever the Fuck THAT'S Supposed to Mean. Then we can all daisy-chain each other for how liberal and enlightened we are and what good intentions we all have while we sit on our asses and gripe at the fucking newspaper.

God damn it, now I'm disgusted by absolutely everyone involved.

Even you, Brian Wilson, you fucking loony. SMiLE sucked.