The artistic community is always ready to stand against censorship – and we know that because it constantly tells us so. If you want to drape an American flag across a walkway to make a statement by letting goateed hipster art aficionados traipse across it, you’re a bold visionary. If you want to write a novel about shooting a Republican president, you’re courageously speaking truth to power. If you want to smear pachyderm dung on a painting of the Virgin Mary, you’re bravely facing down the forces of religious bigotry.
Hell, you not only have a right to do it, but you have a right to have it federally funded through the NEA by the very taxpayers whose collective mind you intend to blow by getting so darn real. It’s right there in the Constitution, amid the emanations and adjacent to the penumbras. Oh, but if you accurately depict the acts leading up to the murder of nearly 3000 Americans, you’ve got to be stopped. After all, the artistic elite can’t let you upset the Krugman-esque party line that 9/11 was really about Bu$Hitler and Company’s wars for oil or something.
The artistic community is anti-censorship right up until the second it decides it wants something censored. Then it piles on.
A little background.
Steve Reich is a Pulitzer-winning composer who lived a few blocks away from the World Trade Center when the planes hit on September 11, 2001. He was out of town at the time, but his family was home. They barely escaped, but the experience was so emotionally traumatic that it was only as the 10th anniversary of this monstrous crime approached that he was able to finally express his feelings through his art. You would think the artistic community would praise him – well, you would think that if you had not been paying attention and still believe that it possessed the capacity for shame at its own rank hypocrisy.
Reich’s composition was called “WTC 9/11.” As described by Terry Ponick at the Washington Times, it “is a short, three-part work that blends live music with the actual recorded sounds of the day’s events playing in background and foreground.” The CD was originally scheduled to be released on 9/11/11, but a completely unexpected (if you don’t understand the Left) uproar occurred.
The uproar? Take a look at the original cover photo above.
Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it? The sight of that jet being guided straight into the South Tower as hundreds burn alive in the North Tower makes you think about how 9/11 was not just some random tragedy that befell us, as if by mere misfortune or a twist of fate.
It makes you think about how it was a calculated act of murder by people who wanted to enslave or kill us, and who still want to enslave or kill us. And the artistic elite can’t let that thought cross your mind.
Slate’s Seth Colter Walls is suitably mortified that the simple image is so…simple:
Given the piece’s complexity, it is surprising to see that the first studio recording of WTC 9/11, due to be released by the esteemed label Nonesuch Records just days before the 10th anniversary of the attacks, is being marketed with cover art that looks like something swiped from Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign press shop circa January 2008.
Yeah, it’s surprising that was piece called “WTC 9/11” and inspired by the events at the World Trade Center on 9/11 might have a cover that actually depicts the World Trade Center on 9/11. Sorry, Seth, if it’s a little on-the-nose for you. Now go complain about poetry that rhymes.
The “controversy” – to the extent rank censorship by self-appointed guardians of the public consciousness constitutes a “controversy” – over Reich’s chosen cover art has delayed the CD’s release until the 20th. That will give the informal Ministry of Truth time to scrub away the cover image that might give rise to unapproved thoughts.
Here is the new cover:
Wow. Wispy grey clouds – it could be a thunderstorm or perhaps some other act of nature. Maybe smoke billowing from the factories of one of those corporate polluters we hear so much about. It could be anything.
Anything except the Twin Towers and the plane piloted by jihadi cowards intent on murdering us.
Ponick of the Washington Times does an excellent job of explaining why the Left demanded this ritual sacrifice:
The grievance was almost certainly generated by hyper-touchy liberal New Yorkers who’ve appointed themselves guardians of 9/11 imagery, aided and abetted by the media coverage (notably Slate and NPR) of reflexively leftist scolds who don’t want to be reminded that the U.S. is not always the bad guy in the arena of human events. And it’s this latter group that really made the album cover an issue.
Yes, it’s the Left being the Left being the Left. Of course their reaction to 9/11 is just the opposite of “never forget.” They want us to forget the truth and instead impose a false memory more conducive to their agenda. They prefer, “always remember America is the villain.” And the original cover reminds us that America is not. So it must be suppressed.
In the Los Angeles Times, August Brown fretted, wondering if “the subtlety of the piece accurately conveyed by this incredibly blunt and literal cover?” Not surprisingly, the Washington Post’s Anne Midgette agrees that the cover should be changed:
It’s the right decision. But the debate is, for me, a red flag that, in the well-meaning wish to guard everyone’s feelings, we risk losing sight of the inherent transformative process of a work of art.
Of course, the “transformative process” the truth might initiate is to transform people from couch-bound lumps thinking in the passive voice about “the tragedy that happened” into furious citizens roused to righteous anger – and their own defense – against the threat that still faces us.
Is one album cover going to turn American culture 180 degrees from the weepy, passivity our liberal elite, spearheaded by the artistic community, wants to keep us trapped in? Of course not. And is Reich himself a fire-breathing warrior urging on the American people for further feats of martial achievement? Probably not. According to Midgette, his statement read:
As a composer I want people to listen to my music without something distracting them. The present cover of WTC 9/11 will, for many, act as a distraction from listening and so . . . the cover is being changed.
Regardless, it’s sad that Reich feels forced to constrain his artistic vision not because it is wrong but precisely because it is right. The elite is not trying to suppress lies but to hide the truth – that a gang of fundamentalist Muslim jihadis murdered 3000 Americans and would do so again, and that we either fight and win, or choose enslavement and/or death. The latter is what the original cover says, and what it says is the truth, and the truth is precisely what they want to censor.
The artistic community doesn’t stand against censorship – it embraces censorship. Crying “wolf” about censorship is a useful weapon to protect its untalented hack members who make crappy art off the largess of Uncle Sucker. And it will not hesitate for even a second to use censorship against its own members when they cross the party line.
Next, maybe Reich can write an album about this incident and the community or artists that has abandoned him. His only problem will be finding a cover art image that suitably evokes the concept of hypocrisy.