President Donald Trump’s signature speech in Warsaw last week celebrated Western accomplishments and Western values. As much as the Poles who heard it loved it, and as much as this second generation descendent of Polish immigrants did too, there was no doubt in my mind that the Left would despise what Trump had to say. Words came out of Trump’s mouth, therefore anyone who identifies as a “progressive” was sure to criticize some or all of those words.
The only question worth considering was what the Left would find most appalling. To my surprise, quite a few progressive commentators focused on part of Trump’s speech that a sane person would find about as uncontroversial as anything any leader in the United States has ever said.
Apparently, the following three words were a secret signal, or “dog whistle,” to arouse white supremacists to action: “We write symphonies.”
How dare he?! The incomparable Mark Steyn laid waste to the insufferable Jonathan Capehart, who penned an entire column for the Washington Post about it. “In that one line, taken in context with everything else Trump said, what I heard was the loudest of dog whistles. A familiar boast that swells the chests of white nationalists everywhere,” Capehart wrote.
In what weird, alternate reality does stating the fact that Western Civilization has fostered an atmosphere that allows for a Mozart, Beethoven, and Samuel Barber to create some of the most moving music on Earth equate to “white nationalism”? All three would not be allowed to create their masterpieces in most Muslim-dominated countries today, and Barber would have been tossed off a rooftop in some of them (because of his sexual orientation).
So I’ve got a few questions for Capeheart and his like-minded regressives. For starters, what music am I allowed to enjoy and to give Western civilization credit for without being labeled a white supremacist?
Personally, I go for old-time R&B, boogie-woogie, and Motown ahead of anything else. Nothing against symphonies or jazz, it’s just the way my ear is tuned.
So where does that put me in Capehart’s alternate universe? Does the fact that I adore the music of John Lee Hooker and his cousin Earl Hooker—who is not as well-known but is, in my opinion, even more brilliant—make me a white supremacist? Since both are black, does that make me guilty of cultural appropriation?
How about my love of Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters and Van Morrison? They are white and play folk music that traces much of its stylistic roots to black folk. Does that make me a white supremacist? Or am I guilty of being an accessory of after-the-fact cultural appropriation?
Capehart and people like him are too clueless to understand it, but one of the seminal moments in the civil rights struggle in the United States was when the amazing contralto Marian Anderson, who happened to be black, in defiance of the extreme racism of the day, performed a concert before thousands of fans of all races from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Anderson, then and now, would not have been allowed to sing in public, much less shamefully appear unveiled, in many Muslim-ruled Middle Eastern countries.
Let’s make it really simple, Capehart: Go to the downtown section of any American city and play Earl Hooker’s “Off the Hook” on the sound distribution device of your choice. Play it loud and play it proud. I guarantee the reaction you get in this country will be a whole lot of people smiling, snapping their fingers, and giving you a thumbs up for making their day.
Then try pulling the same stunt in any number of Muslim-dominated metropolises around the globe where radical Islam is widespread—say, Tehran or Raqqa. At best, you’ll be heading for a prison for a long time. At worst, appendages—possibly including your head—will be removed by the authorities, and in short order.
“Western civilization” is shorthand for a civilization based on tolerance, freedom of expression, and equal opportunity. All are welcome to join the club: east, north, and south included. The other choice, the one that guys like Capehart seem to support wholeheartedly, embrace theocratic intimidation or, at the very least, tyranny of some sort. Like it or not, all of us have to decide which philosophy of governance to support.
The other guys are more than willing to show they support their perverse version of fundamentalist, theocratic morality by sacrificing their lives to intimidate the rest of us. The question of our age is whether or not there are enough of us brave enough to oppose the violently enforced imposition of fundamentalist, anti-Western morality to change the course of history.
(P.S.: Thank the hell out of ya Earl! You left us too damned soon.)