The citizens who showed up to rally behind Antonovich's motion were extremists of the worst kind- people who had no problem twisting facts and distorting the truth to their own ends- they reminded me, frankly, of the very kind of people they were claiming the festival would tacitly attract, support or endorse. Extremism, no matter its religion or ideology, is the driving force behind the most violent acts currently taking place around the world. It breeds intolerance and that is precisely what was on display in the meeting. Listening to the comments offered today in support of Antonovich's motion was like watching a perverted inversion of Phillip Roth's "The Plot Against America" coming to life on my computer screen.
One man claimed that the festival would indeed encourage tourists- like David Duke, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Louis Farrakhan, who would then successfully petition the City for a permit to hold a march down Fairfax to the tune of "The Ride of the Valkyries" while waving Nazi flags. Another claimed Wagner's anti-Semitic beliefs were explicit in his works. More than one claimed "the man and his music are the same and cannot be separated."
Another said the front rows for Gotterdammerung would be filled with White Supremacists wearing Nazi armbands (at $2200 a seat I doubt that very much). It went on for about fifteen minutes, and even the now-infamous Carie Delmar showed up to spew misinformation and lies, including the idea that Wagner was the "defacto soundtrack" to the Holocaust and a Nazi supporter. How could that be, when the Nazis didn't even exist when Wagner was composing the Ring?
Finally, some supporters, including I believe LA Opera's Stephen Roundtree, stepped forward to counter some of the blatant misrepresentations about LA Opera's efforts and intentions for this festival- noting the many ways the company is taking pains to acknowledge the one thing everyone already knows.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky, a strong Festival supporter, introduced an amended motion supporting the Festival and its legitimate activities. Thankfully it passed with only one nay- Antonovich's. I'd like to thank the LA County Supervisors for acting in a reasonable and rational manner and voting to support the Festival and the LA Opera people who offered such a reasoned explanation of the truth.
The crowd supporting Antonovich reminded me of certain people to which my people have vowed, "never again." Thankfully, this is America in the 21st Century- not Germany in the 20th. Sure, this whole brouhaha is in some ways a small issue, given everything else that's going wrong all around us right now, but it was re-assuring to see some politicians stand up and do the right thing. Mazel-tov.