Phil. Harmonic.

By Phil Plait | March 10, 2008 9:24 pm

Speaking of Korea…

The New York Philharmonic traveled to North Korea recently on a goodwill tour. I heard about this online, but it was my friend Bob from XPDA who put up a link to where you can watch the video of the entire concert online.

First, let me say that I think this is extraordinary, and fantastic. It’s arguable that the governments of both countries have a large streak of insanity running through them. Ours refuses to talk to enemies, a dangerous stance based on bad assertions, and theirs is run by Kim Jong Il, a barking-mad megalomaniac who was skewered in "Team America" as the only sane person in the whole movie.

But I am a huge fan of goodwill missions like this. If their leader doesn’t show up (and he didn’t), to heck with him. Revolutions rarely start from the top down.

And if there is better music in the world to inspire freedom than Dvorak’s "New World Symphony", I haven’t heard it.

Listen for yourself. It starts at the fourth track of the video. The video and sound quality are fantastic.

What is it about music? Sure, different cultures have different styles, even entirely different bases of music. And yet it all appeals to me. When I hear Khatchaturian’s ballet "Gayne", some part of my blood comes alive, some long-last Slavic gene. It makes my body sing. I can feel it literally inside me, a tightening just below my sternum, a catch in my breath. I have no idea what it is, or exactly what causes it, but it’s a feeling we could all use, every day.

Watching the people of North Korea listening to our musical emissaries, I got that feeling again. The music was a part of it (I love Dvorak’s Ninth) but it was also the knowledge that this was a group reaching out, trying to make friends, trying — and succeeding — to show that there are commonalities with all of us.

I spend a lot of time on this blog railing about those who would divide us, and get accused sometimes of doing that myself. I hope that most of you see that what I do is different: I am trying to stop those who divide. Ironically, that does encourage division, but only between those who, like me, want a world where no one tries to legislate their personal beliefs on everyone else, and those who would.

Sometimes, maybe, I don’t make enough effort to encourage a positive aspect of all this — though I try to whenever I write about the wonder of science and astronomy.

So let this concert be an example for all of us. I don’t know anything about the people who sat in the audience of that concert. Maybe they are North Korean officials who truly hate the U.S., or they are rich elite who are just being self-indulgent.

But at one point, as the camera panned across the audience, it showed a young Korean woman who, ever so slightly, was swaying to the music, and I swear that twice in those few scant seconds, her mouth twitched upward in a subtle smile.

That concert, and this post, is for her.

Comments (36)

  1. gar

    Who wouldn’t sway to Dvorak. The young woman has excellent taste. Antonin makes for an excellent ambassador. Bravo, NY Phil!

  2. I agree with almost everything you wrote. I too thought I saw a “twitter” of smiles, or at least feeling in some of the audience.
    I was a soldier in the early months of the Korean War. We destroyed some of North Korea. But even in our retreat back to South Korea we saved hundreds of thousands of North Koreans who were willing to risk their lives with us rather than remain under the yoke of Communism.
    I love emtional music and The New World Symphony if one of my favorites. Sibelius’ Finlandia is another. Tristan and Isolde has parts that affect me as you say Gayne does you.
    Ted Hofsiss

  3. Chip

    I am reminded of a bumper sticker I saw years ago: “Brahms, not Bombs”. When I got my second degree in music one of the graduate courses I took required an analysis of Dvorak’s 9th Symphony as well as Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde Prelude. These are wonderful pieces. Hurray for the New York Philharmonic!

    I work in music and its true – there’s a power hidden in those surprisingly mathematical hieroglyphs!

    I love recommending pieces new to music lovers so here’s two: If you like Dvorak’s wonderful “New World Symphony” try an amazingly inspired piece by his 20th century countryman, Bohuslav Martinu: Symphony No. 5.

    And also – since I have to run and can’t load you down with a long list of masterpieces, here’s a really rare orchestral stunner – that’s on CD but hard to find:

    “Mystery of Time” Op. 31 by Miloslav Kabelác Truly haunting music!

  4. Quiet Desperation

    Ours refuses to talk to enemies

    Um, the “six-party talks” (USA, North & South Korea, Japan, China and Russia) have been ongoing since 2003. In 2007 they led to North Korea agreeing to shut down its nuclear facilities and taking steps to normalize relations with Japan and the USA. Where have you been?

  5. Woof

    > When I hear Khatchaturian’s ballet “Gayne”, some part of my blood
    > comes alive, some long-last Slavic gene.

    I bet a lot more folks here have heard that piece than realize it… It’s on the 2001 soundtrack, beginning the first time we see Discovery on its way to Jupiter. I love it.

  6. StevoR

    The BA wrote :

    “And if there is better music in the world to inspire freedom than Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”, I haven’t heard it. ”

    Gustav Holst’s “Mars : The Bringer of War” from his “planets suite? ;-)

    Oh. Sorry, you said ‘better’ not ‘worse’ didn’t you!

  7. StevoR

    Forgot to add :
    —————–
    Thanks though BA! 8)

    Please excuse my odd bit of silliness …

    & thanks too Woof for telling us about :

    ###########

    # Woof on 10 Mar 2008 at 11:50 pm
    > When I hear Khatchaturian’s ballet “Gayne”, some part of my blood
    > comes alive, some long-last Slavic gene.

    I bet a lot more folks here have heard that piece than realize it… It’s on the 2001 soundtrack, beginning the first time we see Discovery on its way to Jupiter. I love it.

    #################

    I didn’t know that – cheers!

  8. Brant

    This is great! I’m a professional musician who’s been reading the blog for not too long and I had no idea that Phil is into my art as much as I’m into his.

    I actually just flipped through a friend’s (she’s a violinist in the Phil) pictures from the trip on facebook. They weren’t allowed to leave the hotel or walk around at all, so most of the shots are from the bus between the hotel and concert hall. Pyong-Yang looks bleak in a typically Soviet-era sort of way, complete with propaganda billboards. However, the interiors of the grand public spaces (the concert hall, specifically) look brand new. Almost like no one is ever allowed to attend a concert. Hmm.

    Tempus fugit, vivat Dvorak!

  9. Salaam =Shalom = Peace

    Er … Quiet Desperation :

    ########

    Quiet Desperation on 10 Mar 2008 at 11:24 pm
    Ours refuses to talk to enemies

    Um, the “six-party talks” (USA, North & South Korea, Japan, China and Russia) have been ongoing since 2003. In 2007 they led to North Korea agreeing to shut down its nuclear facilities and taking steps to normalize relations with Japan and the USA. Where have you been?

    #############

    I think you’re forgetting the situation with the US refusing to negotiate with Iran – or historically the Palestine Liberation Organisation & now the democratically elected if militant Hamas government in Gaza.

    The best way to stop fighting with our enemies is to start talking with them – look at what has been accomplished in Northern Ireland or how much better the French & Germans get on together now after their blood-stained histories.

    Whatever else you say about Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (& yes we can say a lot! ;-)) at least he’s had the courage and willingness to travel over to America and to write open letters to Bush and Americans generally.

    Maybe instead of insulting him as they did at Columbia university they’d have done better by starting a respectful but firm dialogue that could';ve gone somewhere positive? (BTW. its a fact too that Ahmadinejad was popularly elected – NOT a dictator who staged a coup like, say, our ally Musharraf or the Saudi Monarchy! Okay I’m no fan of his, he’s spoken a lot of rubbish but still -give the devil his due! )

    ————————————

    PS. God speed ‘Endeavour’! Just heard that the latest space shuttle mission has been launched successfully! :-)

  10. Salaam =Shalom = Peace

    Er … Quiet Desperation :

    ########

    Quiet Desperation on 10 Mar 2008 at 11:24 pm
    Ours refuses to talk to enemies

    Um, the “six-party talks” (USA, North & South Korea, Japan, China and Russia) have been ongoing since 2003. In 2007 they led to North Korea agreeing to shut down its nuclear facilities and taking steps to normalize relations with Japan and the USA. Where have you been?

    #############

    I think you’re forgetting the situation with the US refusing to negotiate with Iran – or historically the Palestine Liberation Organisation & now the democratically elected if militant Hamas government in Gaza.

    The best way to stop fighting with our enemies is to start talking with them – look at what has been accomplished in Northern Ireland or how much better the French & Germans get on together now after their blood-stained histories.

    Whatever else you say about Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (& yes we can say a lot! ;-)) at least he’s had the courage and willingness to travel over to America and to write open letters to Bush and Americans generally.

    Maybe instead of insulting him as they did at Columbia university they’d have done better by starting a respectful but firm dialogue that could';ve gone somewhere positive? (BTW. its a fact too that Ahmadinejad was popularly elected – NOT a dictator who staged a coup like, say, our ally Musharraf or the Saudi Monarchy! Okay I’m no fan of his, he’s spoken a lot of rubbish but still – give the devil his due! )

    ————————————

    PS. God speed ‘Endeavour’! Just heard that the latest space shuttle mission has been launched successfully! :-)

  11. Salaam =Shalom = Peace

    Incidentally on :

    … the situation with the US refusing to negotiate with Iran – or historically the Palestine Liberation Organisation & now the democratically elected if militant Hamas government in Gaza.”

    I know they’ll be people who say Hamas are just “terrorists” & as bad as Al-Quaeda.

    Those people will be grossly simplifying and demonising the situation in this Palestinean issue.

    True, Hamas have been classified as “terrorists” (a now much degraded, overused and mis-used word that has become increasingly meaningless) by the Administration and others. However, Hamas is actually more a national political resistance movement fighting to free their nation from illegal, foreign oppression and occupation – a bit like the French resistence fighting the Nazi’s. That of courseidshow they see themselves – & how many others around the world also see them.

    Does Hamas engage in suicide bombings and other horrendous atrocities? Undeniably – & these acts are ethically wrong.

    Is Israel equally guilty of innumerable appalling acts of brutality and disregard for innocent Palestinean lives and Palestinean human rights? Again, that’s undeniable – & such acts are also ethically wrong.

    Israel too, are terrorists in terms of terrorising a civilian population for political gains – just government terrorist rather than the non-govt brand which arguably makes them even worse!

    As for the : “We must never deal with terrorists!” line?

    Well, lets not forget how the original Zionists won their Jewish fundamentalist state by terrorist bombings both the indigenous Palestinean popluation and the British rulers of the then Mandate of Palestine.

    Do some research into the Stern Gang, the genocidal “ethnic cleansings” of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 & 1967 plus the bloody pasts of former Israeli PM’s Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon who were all directly involved in the masacres of innocent Palestinean women, men & children – yet all were hailed as heroes and welcomed by the West.

    Does this excuse Hamas? No.

    Should we talk to them & try and get them (like the IRA, ETA [Basques] , Tamil Tigers,etc..) to adopt peaceful political means rather than continue the ever-escalating, demonstrably futile cycle of tit-for-tat bloodshed anyway?

    Absolutely!

    As Winston Churchill said : “Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war!”

  12. Mike Torr

    Music differs from most of the other arts, in that it usually embodies emotions, rather than representing subjects. That’s why it crosses boundaries: it speaks to our lizard brains. I am currently doing a course in media music, and I’ve been a keyboard player for two decades now. Music is one of the few things in life that I never tire of, and which never lets me down: it is real food for the soul.

    Nice article, Phil – and congratulations to the NY Phil. – this kind of thing should definitely happen more often.

  13. Salaam =Shalom = Peace

    & maybe we can start by playing some music to them! ;8)

    Just not death metal! ;-)
    ————————–
    Sorry about the double post. :-(

  14. Neil

    Semi-professional musician and regular reader here. I work at a performing arts center and coincidentally our last classical act was the Jupiter String Quartet. Look them up-they’re young, but have as big a talent and passion as the name would suggest.
    I love Dvorak’s 9th. It was the first symphonic impression of the American frontier, and the prominent theme has survived all the way into the modern age. The “original” soundtrack to City Slickers seems to me to be a cut & paste of Dvorak’s ninth and Copeland’s Rodeo. Big open prairie and mountain scenes, cue the Dvorak; Up close animal comedy, cue the Copeland.
    I’m no big fan of pomp and ceremonial horsepuckey, but artistic goodwill
    events are important symbolic steps toward diplomacy, and they are also usually good performances and potential career boosters for the artists. I’m a little too rock & roll to go pimping myself out for political use, but if your mad violin skillz can help bring understanding, and you can handle all the shirt starch and formality and freaking pomp, then go for it!

  15. BA – Always nice to see the classics getting some press! If I could throw another piece on the “Will leave you an emotional wreck” pile, it has to be Gorecki’s Third Symphony. Very kitsch about 20 years ago, but well worth the listen, as long as you are strong enough in your manhood to be reduced to a blubbering mess!

  16. The Hammer

    FAO Salaam =Shalom = Peace

    Funny how people like you defend countries that hang gays, brutalise women, disallow freedom ov movent and free speech and even allow their children’s TV to talk about killing and “eating Jews”

    http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=98899&in_page_id=34

    yet all your bile and anger goes against a true democracy like America.

    PS In Northern Ireland and France/Germany peace was only decided when both sides agreed to talk – with America’s help I might add – and not unilaterally

  17. Umm… Khachaturian may have been born in Georgia, but he and his family are Armenian.
    Also, how could anyone forget how brilliantly the Khach’s music was used in the under-appreciated Coen brothers’ masterpiece “The Hudsucker Proxy” – the soundtrack is like a Khachaturian greatest hits album.

    Just dropping by. Please return to your arguing about GW Bush, the great communicator. ;)

  18. Wawrzek

    As somebody old enough to remember something from communist time in back Poland I think you are a bit wrong in some points. E.g.
    sentence
    “Watching the people of North Korea listening to our musical emissaries”
    should be
    “Watching the high rang members of Communist part of North Korea listening to our musical emissaries”

    On the other hand, I hope that at least few normal music fans got, somehow, tickets, black market is working in place like N.Korea. If yes the whole effort was worthy, but I would not overestimate the meaning of the tour. 50 years of tours can be not enough to free minds of N.Korean from communists’ demos.

  19. BlondeReb3

    I think I remember hearing that the concert was broadcast on North Korea’s one channel so that everyone could see if they wanted. I could be wrong about that however.

    I was only a mere music minor in college, but the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony has always been my favorite. I feel that could also be appropriate for this concert, however they would have had to get a chorus to North Korea as well.

    But now I have a new list of music to look up! This is very exciting :-)

  20. Al

    Alas for the power of advertising: Dvorak’s New World will forever be associated with Hovis bread in the UK – one comedy programme suggested sales would be improved by renaming it the “Brown Bread” symphony ;-)

  21. david D

    Ah–the moral equivalency crowd! Somehow, the US and North Korea apparently have an equally “large streak of insanity running through them.” Really? I mean, I’m not a Bush fan either, folks, but I’m not sure that there is a large parallel between these two countries. Does that mean that I am blind to America’s warts? Absolutely not. It means that we can look at the big picture and see quite easily that there is no equivalence here.

    Same thing goes for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel does not operate in the same way that the other side rejoices (yes, rejoices) in. I have yet to find an article where the Israelis have gone out of their way and blown up a pizza parlor, or a schoolbus, or a religious school. I don’t think that the example of the Nazis and the French resistance is rather naive–from what I know, France was not created by the U.N. as a homeland for the Germans; the Germans invaded a sovereign country and proceeded to exterminate large portions of the population. Ehtnic cleansings in 1948 and 1967? Didn’t the countries surrounding Israel vow to drive the Jews into the sea? Who was cleansing who?

    I love music, I am a musician myself, and it was wonderful to see the guys playing in one of the sadder and darker corners of the world.

  22. Michael Lonergan

    While the NYP is a good first step, what will really make a difference is sending Bono. :)

    BTW BA can I please be unspammed?

  23. Wawrzek: at the end of the article I make that very point. I don’t know who the audience members are, and are likely to be elite in the party of some kind.

    And david D, please. “Moral equivalency”? I did not make any statements on which is worse, or better. I make the point that both countries have some degree of insanity. This is a cold fact, and the only point I was trying to make.

    I wish there will come a day that I can make a factual statement and not have someone slam hyperbole all over the comments.

  24. JackC

    So who noticed the performance of the 12-year-old composer that “escaped” the censors – Arirang?

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87991800

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arirang

    The story of “playing an American Child’s composition” is fascinating.

    JC

  25. SLC

    “And if there is better music in the world to inspire freedom than Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”, I haven’t heard it”

    Beethovens’ 9th Symphony. Without any doubt or question.

  26. Quiet_Desperation

    I think you’re forgetting the situation with the US refusing to negotiate with Iran –

    Nnnnnnnnnnnnno. I’m not.

    I think you’re forgetting the BLOODY THREAD WAS ABOUT BLOODY NORTH BLOODY KOREA!!!!!!!

    But I’ll be sure to work the whole entirety of global geopolitics into every post from now on just for you, there, Chuckles.

  27. I’m looking forward to a future BA musical post: “Phil.Harmonic.a.”

  28. david D

    My most recent post was removed. FOrgive me if I offended anyone, esp. BA.

  29. Heliopogenus

    uh Phil, I hate to sound pedantic but Khachaturian’s piece is called gayane.

    MoeHammered, even if he was Georgian, it still wouldn’t ethnically be considered Slavic music, since like Armenia, Georgia’s a non-Slavic country. However, the Russian influence is definitely in Khachaturian’s music, along with the up-tempo style that’s characteristic of the Caucuses mountains.

    For full disclosure, let me say I share the same ethnic heritage of Khachaturian’s (Armenian), so yes, that does partially bias me, but only as far as his music is amazing. If Khachaturian was some bible pushing moron publicly criticizing evolutionary theory, then I’d have major issues with him, regardless of shared cultural heritage.

  30. defectiverobot

    Well done, Phil.

  31. StevoR

    Shouted # Quiet_Desperation on 11 Mar 2008 at 10:53 am

    [Me :] “I think you’re forgetting the situation with the US refusing to negotiate with Iran -”

    Nnnnnnnnnnnnno. I’m not.

    I think you’re forgetting the BLOODY THREAD WAS ABOUT BLOODY NORTH BLOODY KOREA!!!!!!!

    But I’ll be sure to work the whole entirety of global geopolitics into every post from now on just for you, there, Chuckles.

    ——————————————————-

    Actually this thread was (& largely is) about power of music to bring people and their nations together – but there was also a big political aspect to it all too.

    So when you ignored the fact that the USA has refused to talk its ‘enemy’ Iran it was an error of fact that required correcting – especially as you were so rude and aggressive in falsly asserting your untuth. (Or at best half-truth.)

    Had you accepted the simple reality that the US does indeed often refuse to talk to its enemies notably in the case of Iran (& Vietnam, Cuba & the Liszt goes on ..) I would’nt have needed to put you right. Besides, there’s the possibility you might’ve learnt something & if not maybe others have .. making such sadly all-too frequently needed corrections worthwhile. :-)

    As for working some global geopolitics into your future posts – well you might need to learn a bit more about that first – from both sides of the story rather than just your own! ;-)

  32. StevoR

    Wrote david D on 11 Mar 2008 at 8:43 am :

    “Ah– the moral equivalency crowd! Somehow, the US and North Korea apparently have an equally “large streak of insanity running through them.” Really? I mean, I’m not a Bush fan either, folks, but I’m not sure that there is a large parallel between these two countries. Does that mean that I am blind to America’s warts? Absolutely not. It means that we can look at the big picture and see quite easily that there is no equivalence here.”

    StevoR : Actually, there is. Being wilfully blind to and wishing to deny unpalatable parallels, David D does NOT make them go away.

    David D : “Same thing goes for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel does not operate in the same way that the other side rejoices (yes, rejoices) in.”

    StevoR : Wrong. Sorry. Israel _does_ rejoice in the massacre of Palestineans in exactly the same way. Look up Baruch Goldstein, an extremist Jewish settler who gunned down fifty-or-so innocent Palestineans as they prayed in Hebron and the reaction of the Jewish settlers who celeberated this slaughter and made Goldstein their virtual saint!

    Look at Yigal Amir, Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin and the joy that provoked among settlers – who’ve also threatened Sharon when he went from supporter of illegal Jewish settlements to grudging acceptor of the need for a separate Palestinean state.

    While your on with it, look up the Sabra & Shatilla Massacres, the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre, the actions and comments of the Israeli settlers who’ve called for the “transfer” of the indigenous Palestinean population, et cetera.

    David D : “I have yet to find an article where the Israelis have gone out of their way and blown up a pizza parlor, or a schoolbus, or a religious school.”

    Me : Turning Gaza into an open air ghetto and the Apartheid wall and the invasion & re-invasion of Palestinean lands not enough for you? Try shelling a innocent Palestinean family at the beach and killing all but one member – or deliberately running over peace activists like Rachel Corrie with tank-bulldozer hybrids or shooting journalists like Tom Hurndell in the head even though clearly identified as such & .. well the list is too long already.

    Suffice to say, Israel has done far worse than the Palestineans when it comes to committing atrocities against civilians. The stark numbers and situation are unequivocal on that.

    DD : “I don’t think that the example of the Nazis and the French resistance is rather naive – ”

    SR : Thanks, I don’t think its naive either – because its apt instead! ;-)

    DD : “… from what I know, France was not created by the U.N. as a homeland for the Germans; the Germans invaded a sovereign country and proceeded to exterminate large portions of the population. Ehtnic cleansings in 1948 and 1967? Didn’t the countries surrounding Israel vow to drive the Jews into the sea? Who was cleansing who?”

    Israel was ethnically cleansing the Palestineans as any honest historian -or surviving Palestinean living at the time – will tell you. Yes there was some nasty Arab rhetoic – but that’s part of Muslim-Arab world culture. Saying something doesn’t mean its going to happen. The Jews at worst would’ve lost their state and been evacuated to the West -where frankly they belonged.

    Moreover, of course, the Arabs fought to regain land they knew was theirs – incl,.the third holiest site to Islam! That was always going to happen and was provoked by the wrongful creation of a new colonial outpost in a region just freeing itself from the vestiges of Empire. See ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ sometime, David, for a slight indication of just how badly the Arabs (who fought on the allied side btw.) were betrayed and what sort of promises were _not_ kept!

    As for the UN creating Israel the reality is that the Palestineans were Hitler’s ultimate victims – to salve their consciences post WWII – the Western powers the British & Americans whose land it wasn’t – gave away one of their colonial Mandates to another European political and ethnic group – the Ashkenazi Jewish Zionist movement.

    This will go down as one of the worst mistakes in history – not just for the Palestineans but for the entire planet as it has been a very major factor in the breakdown in Islamic-Western relations and all that’s come from that – incl. Sept. 11th 2001.

    Hitler won in the creation of Israel – that’s the sad truth. The victims of the Shoah (Jewish Holocaust) were out of Europe as the Nazi’s wished, and put in the most perilous of places and made to turn into the very type of brutes they’d fled.

    What’s more assuming someone wished to exterminate the Jews (which I don’t btw!) what better start is there than gathering them all together in a hostile land where everyone around them hates them with a fierce passion … (& with good reason!) What better way to exterminate Jewish thought and culture too than turning it into a warped, thuggish, unquestioning, nationalism for a fundamentalist militaristic state?

    Ironic, tragic, and sadly true.

  33. Salaam = Shalom = Peace

    # The Hammer on 11 Mar 2008 at 6:19 am

    “FAO Salaam =Shalom = Peace

    Funny how people like you defend countries that hang gays, brutalise women, disallow freedom ov movent and free speech and even allow their children’s TV to talk about killing and “eating Jews”

    http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=98899&in_page_id=34

    yet all your bile and anger goes against a true democracy like America.”

    ————-

    Bile and anger? Hardly. More sadness, disappointment and frustration …

    I wasn’t actually defending Iran or its government – & you can’t have read my post properly because I specifically said :

    [Quote ]
    “Whatever else you say about Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
    (& yes we can say a lot! ;-) ) at least he’s had the courage and willingness to travel over to America and to write open letters to Bush and Americans generally. [IUnquote]

    &

    [Quote]

    “Maybe instead of insulting him as they did at Columbia university they’d have done better by starting a respectful but firm dialogue that could’ve gone somewhere positive?

    (BTW. its a fact too that Ahmadinejad was popularly elected – NOT a dictator who staged a coup like, say, our ally Musharraf or the Saudi Monarchy! Okay I’m no fan of his, he’s spoken a lot of rubbish but still – give the devil his due! ) [Unquote]

    Did you miss it again that time, buddy? OK once more :

    1. “Whatever else you say about Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – & yes we can say a lot!”

    2. “I’m no fan of his, … ”

    3. “… he’s spoken a lot of rubbish …”

    &

    “.. give the devil his due!”

    How can it be that you call somebody a devil, say he’s talked a lot of rubbish and that you’re no fan of them – & still peopel think you’re defending him! Sheesh!

    Mahmoud Ahmadhinejad is a nutjob – but he has shown a willingness to try and communicate and he has had the cajones to come over here … Maybe we shouldn’t have wasted that opportuinity to start talking.

    That was what I was saying! Capiche now?

    As for America being a ‘true democracy’ .. well I appreciate your patriotism but, actually, the closest human society has ever come to true democracy is actually ancient Athens!

    BTW. : What is meant by FAO?

  34. StevoR writes:

    [[the Apartheid wall ]]

    Let’s see, the Israelis want to put up a wall to prevent people from coming over the border and blowing up their citizens. And this counts as “Apartheid.”

    The Israelis don’t have a right to defend themselves? They have to submit to being blown up? That seems to be what you’re implying.

    [[What’s more assuming someone wished to exterminate the Jews (which I don’t btw!) ]]

    So in addition to being an Israel hater, you’re a Holocaust denier. [Gilbert Gottfried as Iago voice:] What a surprise that is! I think I’m about to have a heart attack and drop down dead because of that surprise!

  35. Guillermo Abramson

    Phil, please, put an end to this. Please remove unpolite posts and freeze the thread.

    I always enjoy your posts, and also (usually) the comments.

  36. Bernie Kuehn

    “And if there is better music in the world to inspire freedom than Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”, I haven’t heard it. ”
    I’ve admired a lot of your thinking for some time now, but after the above I have a whole new respect for you. Music truly has great power to unite, and your recognition of that truth is encouraging.

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