Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lest We Forget

It has been only six years since the terrorist attacks of 9-11, but many in the creative community seem determined to forget, obscure, and deny the lessons of that event. Lest we forget, the jazz community suffered real losses that day, including one of its own. Betty Farmer, a one-time jazz vocalist working for Cantor Fitzgerald was killed that day. She started her singing career in the cradle of jazz, her hometown of New Orleans, and eventually performed with Duke Ellington. According to the New York Times’ “Portrait of Grief,” she was in the process of re-launching her performing career.

The jazz community also suffered severe economic losses as a result of 9-11. Wendy Oxenhorn of the Jazz Foundation often speaks eloquently about the number of gigs that either dried up completely, or went from paid gigs to tip-jar gigs here in the City. Charles Lloyd played a free stand at the Blue Note in an effort to encourage patrons to return to the clubs.

Make no mistake, creative artists—including jazz musicians, were attacked on September 11, 2001. For those who question whether that threat to creative expression continues, look to recent events in the Middle East. Vendors of music CDs and cassettes are literally under siege in Pakistan. Last month three Pakistani CD and video stores were bombed by Islamic extremists. Why? Music is deemed an “un-Islamic business” by Islamic-Fascists (and “entertaining female customers” is also frowned upon).

This was not a response to Iraq or Israel or any other tortured justification. It is simply another manifestation of an ideology of hate, the same motivation for the murder of 3,000 individual human beings at the World Trade Center (as Karol will be reminding people today). Therefore, we all have a stake in fighting Islamic extremist terrorists, especially musicians and other creative artists.

Today is a day to reflect and remember. We mourn the loss of Ms. Farmer and all who were senselessly murdered that day. We pray that their family and friends can find a measure of solace. Let us remember them throughout the year, and not just this day.