Thursday, September 28, 2006

Is Angela Merkel The New Iron Lady?

By reading this story from the Daily Mail, one certainly can draw that conclusion.

Germany's conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday led political and arts world uproar at the scrapping of a Mozart opera that features the head of the prophet Mohammed rolling across the stage.

The performances were cancelled amid fears the scene could trigger violence among the nation’s Muslim community.

But Mrs Merkel denounced "self-censorship out of fear" as unacceptable, reflecting a mood of national indignation that was not limited to the arts set but cut right across all social lines.

Bravo to Ms. Merkel. Fear can paralyze a civilization, if the citizens of that civilization allow themselves to succumb to it. And from this move, it appears that she recognizes this.

In a world where many Christians must endure the thought of Madonna and Kanye West mocking a crucifixion in the name of free speech, why should Muslims be exempt from having to learn to turn the other cheek and ignore what they may deem as offensive?

Now, I am not a fan of purposely setting out to offend anyone, Muslim or otherwise. But, I am also for the freedom of expression (whether I agree with it or not) and I am against having one group holding an entire society hostage, because they think something is inappropriate. The fear of a backlash should never be the guiding principle in what can and cannot be expressed. When that happens, fear takes over and paralyzes.

As an individual, I always try to think out ahead of time, if my words are going to hurt someone personally. As a result I pick and choose my words as carefully as (possible) to not insult individuals, personally. But I will be damned if I allow someone to dictate or use the fear of retaliation and/or intimidation to silence my opinions, on a macro level. I will never allow myself to hold back in my criticisms of faulty ideologies that dupe some of the masses and cause them to believe lies.

And from what I gather in this article, Ms. Merkel feels this way, too. So, to her I say again, bravo and will add the call for an encore.


Josh in Berlin said...

It seems that the cancellation will be revoked and this opera will be shown after all. What a great and shrewd publicity stunt the opera house made by first announcing the cancellation. Usually hardly anybody would be interested in that opera, but now it is the talk of the town.

I think I am in a very small minority in Germany who approved of the cancellation. That opera is an insult to other religions (since it shows the severed heads of Jesus and Buddha as well) and to Mozart, the composer, himself.

What benefit would we get if we had this opera? It seems the only reason to defend this stupid opera is to avoid giving the impression of appeasement to the Islamofascists. That's not enough for me. I think this opera would only strengthen Islamofasicsm since it would help their propaganda. To win the war on terrorism, we need to have moderate Muslims on our side, so that they don't support the terrorists, but give us information about them. And we want the moderate Muslims to win over their autocratic governments and fundamentalist groups in the Arab world. This opera, however, alienates the moderate Muslims and helps the fundamentalists.

Greetings from Berlin,
My blog: The Atlantic Review, A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni

LASunsett said...


Welcome to PYY. Feel free to comment here anytime. I welcome all opinions, agree or disagree.

I agree with you in one sense, I probably would not care if the show went on or not. I wouldn't attend it.

However, I do not feel that anyone should be restrained from freedom of speech of expression. When Maplethorpe's exhibit came out, I wouldn't set foot near it, but I do not want it censored either. The art pieces that had dung on the Virgin Mary and Piss Christ, I found offensive. But again, I would not want them to be censored either. And I would not demand an apology, nor would I approve of the use of threats and/or acts of violence be carried against the artists. I might criticize it, as is my right. But that's as far I as I would go.

It's a slippery slope that I cannot support, because it sets a dangerous precedent for future generations. Once set in motion, these things have a way of getting out of control.

I value the right to free speech, no matter how reprehensible the speech may be. (That is, as long as the speech does not make threats against specific individuals or specific groups of individuals)

Again, thanks for coming by and do come back, sir.

GM Roper said...

Josh, like LA Sunset I have parts of your post with which I agree. On the other hand, the photograph "Piss Christ" by maplethorpe was highly offensive to me, but I would defend the photographers right to publish his "work" under any circumstances. That a Muslim, whether jihadist or moderate would take to the streets and or not stand up to the islamofascists is equally offensive. They must join the rest of us in the 21st century if their culture is to have any validity at all.