Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another New Republic Edition)
If Franklin Foer wants his New Republic to rebuild its reputation, he needs to get rid of Peter Beinart. Just saying.
Here's Peter Beinart:
Time to close ranks in defense of free speech: Last week, I went searching the liberal Web for discussions of Idomeneo. The Deutsche Oper, a Berlin opera house, had recently canceled the Mozart classic because it feared Muslims would react violently to a scene featuring Mohammed's severed head. Germans declared that free speech was under siege. The New York Times covered every wrinkle. Right-wing websites buzzed. And, on the big liberal blogs, virtual silence.
If pressed, most liberal bloggers would probably have condemned the opera house's decision. But they didn't feel pressed. Blogging thrives on outrage (see, for instance, my colleague Martin Peretz's outraged blogging on the affair at tnr.com/blog/spine), and the Idomeneo closure just didn't get liberal blood flowing. And why is that? Perhaps because it didn't have anything to do with George W. Bush...
Peter Beinart plays two games of intellectual three-card-monte here.
The first game of intellectual three-card-monte is, of course, Beinart's criticizing people he does not name not for what they do not say. It is one thing to complain about what people say about the issues they discuss. It's another to condemn them for what they do not say about not-very-important-issues they do not discuss. It's a big world. Ars longa. Vita brevis. To blame people for not discussing a not-very-important event that you think they should be discussing--well, that's why people like Peter Beinart need editors to cancel their pieces and keep them from making even bigger fools of themselves.
The second game of intellectual three-card-monte is, of course, Beinart's claim that a classic opera written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was canceled. I can assure you that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart never wrote a note of music for a scene in which the severed heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed were pulled from a sack. Never. Not a note. Beinart could--if he wanted to be honest--say that Hans Neuenfels's version of Idomeneo, which adds a non-canonical scene in which the heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed are pulled from a sack was canceled. And we could then argue about whether that cancelation was a good thing. (I would say it was not a good thing to cancel the opera.)
But that's not what Beinart says, is it?
New Republic. Death spiral. Engaged in.
PULL UP, FRANKLIN FOER!! PULL UP!!