PLUS, I DON'T LIKE OPERA. I think Peter Beinart's TRB this week deserves a response. The editorial focuses on the lack of (online) liberal outrage after the Deutsche Oper yanked the opera Idomeneo, which features Muhammad's decapitated head, out of a desire to avoid controversy. The liberal blogs said nothing. Not so with the conservosphere, which erupted in outrage. Many liberals," Beinart writes, "seem unable to conceive of a struggle in which the Republican right is not an enemy but an ally. But there are such struggles, and, without today's activist liberals, they will be harder to win. Free speech is under threat, and Idomeneo should be the last straw."
First of all, free speech is fine. German's politicians -- including its prime minister -- roundly criticized the decision. You can call the Deutsche Oper cowardly, or overcautious -- but speech is no less free because an opera house decides not to run a performance. Happens all the time, in fact.
More importantly, the merry racists over at Little Green Footballs aren't pumping the Idomeneo controversy because they're deeply committed to artistic freedom. These are David Horowitz acolytes, after all. They're doing it because it furthers their other political ends. They're doing it for the same reasons Bush noticed the oppression of Afghani women after 9/11, or the right remembered Hussein had human rights abuses when they decided to attack Iraq. Painting Arabs as beastly and illiberal fits their expansionist political agenda, which calls for sustained, often violent confrontation with the Arab world.
Few liberals want any part in that foreign policy agenda. And so few liberals have any interest in buttressing the administration's supporting arguments. Too many recall how their genuine concern and outrage over abuses in Iraq was conscripted in service of a misguided, heavily politicized, war that included human rights abuses of its own. Given a government that thinks nothing of suspending Habeas Corpus, is criticizing the Deutsche Oper likelier to protect free speech or deploy bombers?