Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Fat Terrorist Will Sing

The protest has been held and the Death of Klinghoffer will go on. The fat terrorist will sing, the media will chant his praises and the old sad story of failed Jewish activism in America will go on.

After the behind-the-scenes lobbying and the ignored letters to the editor, a protest rally fronted by two out of work Republican politicians brought more attention to the Met's pro-terrorist opera without doing anything to actually stop it from going forward.

Rudy Giuliani, the protest's marquee name, wrote an article expressing his admiration for the composer, called the Met's cancellation of HD broadcasts a "harder and more courageous decision than is recognized by those who oppose this opera" and promised to continue patronizing the Met.

And if hard-hitting rhetoric like that doesn't make the Met shake in its boots, I don't know what will.

None of this is a new story. It's the repetition of a very old story.

In 1914, the Gary Plan was the Common Core of its day, a highly controversial radical educational reform that both dumbed down the curriculum and made it ridiculously confusing. Like Common Core, the Gary Plan was backed by major business interests, including the Rockefeller Corporation, liberal newspapers and wealthy busybodies. It was championed by the progressive quasi-Republican mayor of New York, John Purroy Mitchel, the Bloomberg of his day.

The schools targeted by the Gary Plan were primarily Jewish. Among its other charming features, the Gary Plan made it difficult for students from working class families to work part time or obtain a religious education. And it killed their hope of a higher education by dumbing down their classes.

Immigrant Jews took on the liberal establishment. And the liberal establishment ignored them and mocked them.

The Jews formed committees and leagues, attended every meeting, wrote letters to the editor, pleaded to be heard. And for two years the newspapers, including the New York Times, refused to report on the opposition. A coalition of parents associations and chambers of commerce  asked for hearings on the plan and the Board of Education replied that it saw no evidence that the public wanted hearings.

The Jewish establishment had its shot and it failed. It had gone through all the decent motions of democracy and was brushed off by the liberal establishment.

So Jewish students and parents instead began boycotting classes. Thousands of students marched through the streets. School windows were smashed. Board meetings were hijacked by protesters. Police fought students and parents in the street. The opposition could no longer be ignored.

Mitchel lost the election. The Gary Plan disappeared into history. Both are mourned obscurely by progressives for not doing a better job of "messaging".

All that may have happened a century ago, but the lesson has yet to be learned.

The American Jewish establishment's narrow toolbox of meetings, lobbying and letters to the editor utterly failed during the Holocaust. The Nazis were not impressed by them and neither was FDR. It took rogue elements like Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht to actually bring the issue to public attention through abrasive and angry rhetoric targeting FDR and the establishment.

The impotent establishment which had written letters and engaged in backdoor lobbying while millions died denounced them for it.

The same thing happened again with Soviet Jewry. For two generations, the Jewish establishment had issued meaningless formal protests when the USSR closed synagogues, shot Rabbis and then went straight to mass murder. Soviet Jews were only truly able to leave once another group of rogue activists hijacked Soviet attempts at detente by vandalizing Soviet embassies and airplanes and releasing mice at Soviet cultural events.

In 1972, when Soviet dancers appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, activists of the Jewish Defense League threw chicken blood at them. "Soviet culture will not be allowed in New York while Soviet Jews languish in concentration camps", their statement said.

In 1986, a Soviet dance troupe's appearance at the Met was emptied out with a tear gas grenade. The Soviet ambassador had to be evacuated from the building with tears in his eyes. By the next show, the Met had to be packed with security, patrons were being all but strip searched and bomb sniffing dogs were circulating through the audience. Going to the Met was now like going into a prison.

The establishment condemned them. Koch called them "the scum of the earth" for making the Soviet ambassador cry. But their tactics worked when those of the establishment had failed.

The same story repeated itself when it came to Israel. Except the left has monopolized militant activism while the Jewish establishment scurries around with reactive responses, defensive editorials and the occasional rally. These tactics are not useful when it comes to people throwing blood at you and they are useless even when opposing the high culture's endorsement of the mass murder of Jews encoded in pro-terrorist events like the Death of Klinghoffer.

American Jewish activism remains rooted in checking boxes. The establishment lobbies, comes away with some sort of compromise, like the ADL's cancellation of the Met's HD broadcast, and declares victory. Angry letters are written. A protest takes place. And nothing changes except for the worse.

The other side knows that activism is meant to lead to something. Our side runs cargo cult activism in which going through the motions of activism is supposed to lead to results without actually having a plan. It's an organizational loop that leads to nothing. We protest to register our protest. These aren't actions. They're comforting rituals.

Protesting to register displeasure is a middle class reflex. It's the response of those who think that the institutions we deal with are basically democratic and just aren't hearing us. It's not a movement of real change. Like the Tea Party, it goes through the middle class motions of democracy without recognizing that the system is fundamentally broken and will not be fixed at that level.

Expecting the rituals of middle class outrage to register against the militants of the left who are now in charge or their useful idiots is a faint hope. It would take far larger numbers to even make a dent in their arrogance and their certainty that their network of media and political support will hold on.

The Death of Klinghoffer protests got some things right, like the wheelchairs, a coalition with the Catholic League and the badges and signs, and some things wrong, like Giuliani, but it made the same basic mistakes that the various pro-Israel and anti-Terrorist protests that I used to attend regularly over the years did. It was protest as catharsis. It had no real objective that it could hope to accomplish except to embed mention of it somewhere in a story. It was registering opposition and moral outrage, rather than forcing change.

And as noble as that is, it's also impotent.

If the Met had decided to put on an opera in which Jews were the victims and Muslims were the villains, activists from the left would have chained themselves inside with bullhorns, they would have poured fake blood on themselves and on the patrons, they would have done their best to disrupt every performance turning the story around from the opera to their message.

And they would have gotten their way.

The left would have looked at such a situation not as another hopeless attack, but as a platform for getting out their message by turning themselves into the victims. Their end goal would not have been to merely disrupt the opera, but to get the Met to give equal time to their agenda by putting on an opera of their own. Not to reassure themselves that they still matter.

Despite how this may sound, I am not criticizing the organizers of the protest. I have been to countless protests like it overseen by very nice and committed people who think that they have succeeded if they can get the City Comptroller or Public Advocate to come on stage and condemn terrorism. Their hearts are in the right place and they are doing their best against the odds.

But the left does not view activism as a middle class ritual. It doesn't protest and expect things to change. It protests to mobilize and radicalize. It has an agenda every bit as developed as that of any corporation, and usually funded by corporations, even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes. Activism to it is a science. A protest rally or a letter is one stage in a comprehensive plan of action.

Our side does not have a plan. We react in outrage to something and we express our outrage with words, with letters, articles and speeches. We fail to effectively change things at the top because there is never anything at stake for an institution like the Met. They have nothing to lose. We do.

The Met is vulnerable through its government funding. And it's vulnerable to disruption. It's an institution with financial problems faced with angry unions and accusations of waste. The left would have had a field day with any of those things. It would not have wasted its money getting Giuliani and Pataki up on stage to cloak the protest in middle class respectability.

Militant tactics aren't the only option, but you either have a goal and a plan for accomplishing it or you're going through the motions of outrage. You're not going to win an argument with the liberal establishment with a protest rally featuring two retired politicians. You're not going to get people to take the murder of Jews by Muslim terrorists seriously by doing the same things that failed when it came to Nazi Germany and the USSR.

Activism is about accomplishing short term goals or using outrage to build a movement. If you're not doing either of these things, then the fat terrorist will go on singing.


Anonymous said...


You had the same issue at Frontpage Mag. It was a nasty little troll war and it couldn't make intelligent, decent people feel good about themselves but after it got ugly the leftist trolls were gone and they couldn't hijack the site as their own mouthpiece anymore. I'm not sure you enjoyed all that playing out. Actually how could you? But the Klinghoffer logic applied. Asymmetric rules means asymmetric results. Play dirty because that is what the opposition can't handle or play clean and watch them play nicer (not nice) and have a new status quo. At what point does the right play nasty but play to win? At what point does the establishment right wing voices sign on to the more effective way of doing things?

SabaShimon said...

Excellent piece Daniel.
Indeed......who will be this generation's Ben Hecht?
Although come to think about it, for all of Mr. Hecht's noble and tireless efforts, he too failed.

Edward Cline said...

Rudy Giuliani's one and only shining moment was when he turned down the check offered him by a sheik after 9/11. And that's it. He may have cleaned up crime a bit in NYC during his tenure as mayor, but his methods left a lot to be desired. Yes, he was just a "marquee name" for the anti-Klinghoffer opera protesters and his name didn't carry much weight. And the show went on. I don't understand either why he'd admire the opera composer's "music." From what I've heard of it, he's just another one of those Arnold Schoenberg-taught atonal screechers with sing-song lyrics. Which is what the Death of Klinghoffer dserved-- a fancy, bizarre piece of agitprop. It give Orwell's dictum that "all art is propaganda" some credence.

Empress Trudy said...

Big Met donors in wheelchairs should be wheeled to the Hudson river and pushed in, perhaps. After all, murder is now a free speech issue and something to be applauded in the name of tolerance. Fair enough. Let's free speech the heck out of them.

Ex-Dissident said...

Interesting post. While I have no desire to see people suffer, some form of punishment would be fitting for all those who attend this performance. I would love to see everyone of them placed on a no fly list for providing material support to terrorists.

Anonymous said...

And some people still consider the US of America to be civilized? When entertainment is dragged through the sewer, as terror is celebrated by tenors, and lyrics written to immortalize murder, what's left to trash? There is no shame left in America. This is a tragedy, not a musical.

Robin Ticker said...

This protest made major press from secular to Jewish. It was in the Metro paper handed out in the subways and front page of of many print media publications. On line posts were flooded. All the Jewish papers carried the protestl. Personally I disagree with Guiliani position that the Met has a right to produce this Opera because of the 1st Amendment protection. 1st Amendment is to protect legitimate religions and viewpoints. Terrorism does not fall in this category. Would the Met be legally allowed to produce a Propaganda Opera with a false narrative about Hitler and Nazism in order to put them in a human light? While I agree the Met does not deserve civility and a Civil protest and civility is what they are most concerned about, I also acknowledge with honesty that Mayor Guiliani has a right to his opinion and perspective. His appearance was instrumental in educating the public more so than this Blog which has a limited readership. The Press that covered this Protest reached millions who are totally clueless and that was because so many high powered and influential speakers came out to the Press Conference. The protesters themselves were barricaded and that was a terrible reaction of the police dept from the pressures of the Met. We in turn need t put our own pressures on the Police Dept to allow the protester the freedom to protest without the feeling of being treated as terrorists. On the other hand, we can not put down the educational process which is necessary to remove the poisonous information that the public has been fed and continues to be fed by funding coming from unKosher sources like Qutar and Suadi Arabia. This funding has gone to the Arts and leftist Liberal Agenda is what is funded. It has hit the college campuses and students are being fed historical untruths based on such funding. A few provocative and disruptive incidences which may be effective to scare the Met into submission won't really give those poisoned with disinformation the education and understanding as per why this Opera is dangerous as per the falsification of history and the brainwashing that have been exposed to. It will just get them upset at the provocateurs who is not allowing them to see an Opera.

We need unity and while perhaps disruption has its place in certain circumstances as the blog points out, it merely treats the symptom but does not address the underlying disease of the success of the Palestinians and those who support them to market their terrorism and criminality successfully with a bunch of lies.

A Playbill has been produced to educate the Opera goers as to the true nature of the cast of characters. Let us distribute this playbill, electronically and physically. It will disrupt the consciousness of a typical Opera goer as per why this Opera is anti-semitic, supporting terror and supports a pro-racist and intolerant radical Islamic ideology now threatening the world.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

The success of the other side comes in no small part from their disruption and militancy. But I proposed a number of plans, including working with politicians to defund the Met and working with Met unions that didn't involve militancy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Daniel. A moment of clarity ,right to my heart. I have learned to welcome it.

Johnny said...

If you want to go after the Met, one route would be to go after the funding. If you can, get the protesters to push the idea that the institution should no longer be viewed as a charity. Hey, can we be real? The whole idea of a performing arts theater with snob appeal as a charity has always been a fraud. And now it has become an obnoxious fraud.

Jill said...

"Our side runs cargo cult activism in which going through the motions of activism is supposed to lead to results without actually having a plan."

I've been thinking this for a very long time. Nice to see someone else express it!!
Good manners is only effective amongst the well-mannered and those who respect your or care about you.
No anti Jewish forces are like this - for Jews to get what they need and want, they first need to recognise that the rest of the world - barring some good people - does not care about Jews and the rest hate them and want them to die.
Manners, or rather "the usual channels" in these circumstances do not get results of not being attacked, being respected and being taken seriously.

Nothing wrong with trying the usual channels first. But when they fail, Plan B must be more forceful and often ugly. Everyone does it, especially those with the veneer of gentility who underneath are sheer blood-sporters, especially when it comes to Jews.
It is also true, however, that the more effective means needs skill, imagination and planning.

Jill said...

BY the way, interesting note about the Gary Plan, which I've not before heard of.
I wonder if it was a pilot program for the Common Core Agenda 21 program.
Rockefeller Foundation was and is one of the several USA foundation pushing to Sovietise the USA and that plan may have been a dry run for the later bigger one.

Some dude said...

What you are saying is that in effect, the Jewish population of New York has been tamed.

Cliff Weston said...

Radial Muslims show us the most effective way of gaining the respect and admiration of the left. I don't understand why that isn't clear for most people in this country. We note that there is never any condemnation by anyone on the left whenever a woman is stoned to death, or a journalist or aid worker is beheaded. Not a peep from NOW or any of the other feminist organizations. They're yaps are shut tight.

Personally it would not bother me to wake up tomorrow and read that patrons of such plays as this, or some Hollywood elites sympathetic to our enemies were tomahawked on the street in broad daylight,as was done to those NYPD officers recently, with letters to editors announcing a new approach toward potential "lone wolves" and their supporters because civility has proven to be a failure. I suspect that after the initial condemnations, our enemies would quietly reassess their positions on the matter.

DenisO said...

I'm guessing that this opera was an act of desperation by a organization not far from Bankruptcy, a radical-chick attempt to broaden interest and attendance designed by a publicity specialist, using controversy to enhance interest.
Best tactic is to hit them in their wallet by things like loud picketing and photographing patrons, and exposing their identities in an unflattering way. Make attendance an unpleasant and embarrassing experience. Fund-raising to pay demonstrators is a tactic of the Left, but the're likely available to all. A "community organizer" needs to be found to run it. Picket all Met functions.

cjk said...

Get to the point! We are dealing with truly EVIL people who would imprison and murder us if they could. People just don't seem to be able to understand the true proportions of this EVIL we are confronting. This is the core reason why we have such impotent and lukewarm responses to these fiends. I have found that a basic trait among man is that of projection. We all tend to see our adversaries as as like ourselves, hence the 'good' people always give the opposition more respect and leeway, whereas the 'bad' people, seeing others as they are, are vicious, lying and scheming to win regardless of right or wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for yet another excellent essay. The allusion to the JDL (and thereby, indirectly, its founder, ZTK"L HY"D) is admirable. Kudos! The tactics that they employed were necessary at the time, and they accomplished their goals. But I also want to point out that at some point the JDL's founder understood that the days of Jewish activism in the exile were over, and that Jews were supposed to make aliyah to Israel (which is what he did 1970---ever the person who practiced what he preached) and practice their activism in their true homeland. I know, it is not a popular thing to mention. His primary justification was naturally rooted in halacha (Jewish law), but he also provided excellent secular reasons as well, through books such as Uncomfortable Questions for Comfortable Jews. I know this comment won't win me any popularity contests, but the truth is the truth.

Michael said...

Brilliant, as usual... "the cargo-cult" is a very pithy description... I think the most distinct aspect is that the left has no compunction against using force, while the right respects humanity (as a whole) an finds it abhorrent. Like the Founders wrote letters and sent envoys, till they realized it was futile, so do we. I don't think we can afford to wait much longer.

bernie said...

A New York Times review tells us that "this opera tries to explore what drove these Palestinians to take that ship and murder its most vulnerable passenger." That is who this opera is for, clueless morons who have no idea what Islam is or its ultimate goal.

Unfortunately, the protests have not only been non-productive, but counter-productive: this piece of garbage has sold more tickets than any other opera currently at the Met. There's an old Hollywood adage - there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Anonymous said...

Big fat old black opera guy looks like he singing Ole Man Riber off key.

Anonymous said...

Well, where was the tear gas grenade on opening night? Where was the phone call that would evacuate the place?

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