The devil’s playground

Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss is for the entire world!
Brothers! over the starry canopy
Must a loving Father dwell!.

Beethoven’s 9th, Movement III.

Retired University of Pennsylvania music librarian and lifelong friend Carolyn brought Beethoven’s line to our attention in response to today’s earlier post, “Now (regretfully) I Know.”

“Hitler,” she said, “was purportedly extremely partial to Beethoven’s 9th,” especially to the lines above. Her comments remind me again that even beauty itself can become the source of ugliness. Good and evil lie next to each other in this world, just a breath away from the other.

It’s not just an idle mind that is the devil’s workshop. [H. G. Bohn, “Hand-Book of Proverbs,” 1855]. It’s also a lofty mind, propelled by the best in us.

High ideals – a world at one, a world at peace; feel the embrace, you millions, this kiss is for the entire world – are not just lofty. They are also the devil’s playground where light is turned into darkness, love into hate, hope into despair, hugs into gropings, and kisses into kisses of death.

Thank you, Carolyn, for the comment. The physically blind Beethoven surely would cherish the prospect that the world will not allow Hitler’s distortion to become the the last interpretation of the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th.

It is left to us to redeem the hug and the kiss with the spirit of hope and contrition we know by heart:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.” (Just enough bread for one day.) “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 5, 2016.





Boogie-Man Politics

Senator Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz

Comparing Obamacare to the Nazis, Senator Ted Cruz (TX) said: “Look, we saw in Britain, Neville Chamberlain, who told the British people, ‘Accept the Nazis. Yes, they’ll dominate the continent of Europe but that’s not our problem. Let’s appease them. Why? Because it can’t be done. We can’t possibly stand against them.’”

So which is it? Sometimes you paint the President as a Communist. Sometimes you paint him as a Fascist. You can’t have it both ways, Senator. Hitler was a Fascist. Stalin was a Communist. Obama is neither. Somehow the three have been mixed together into a political Molotov Cocktail. It’s reported this morning that a huge crowd in Iowa gave Senator Cruz an enthusiastic 36-second standing ovation.

Is it a coincidence that the President he loves to smear is black? Boogie-Man politics has a sordid history in this country.

Those whose memories are longer see the sneer of former Senator Joseph McCarthy on the faces of those who, like him, use innuendo and character assassination to destroy public figures and elected officials who do not agree that a Right Wing agenda is the definition of “American.” The arrogant sneer always looks the same. Because it is the same.

Paul Robeson testifying, SOURCE: AP/Bill Achatz

Paul Robeson testifying,
SOURCE: AP/Bill Achatz

Paul Robeson, under investigation by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, doing battle with the Chair while testifying, spoke the words then that still echo in my ears. They still pertain to Boogie-Man politics:

“You are the Un-Americans, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”