Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Shipp of Fools

The September Jazz Times is currently hitting mailboxes with a feature marking the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack on lower Manhattan, soliciting responses from a diverse group of musicians. Most, like Sonny Rollins, Bob Belden, Joanne Brackeen, and Fred Hersch largely confined their reflections to personal stories. Matthew Shipp however, took the opportunity to make some vile statements, excusing the unprovoked attack that killed almost 3,000 of his fellow New Yorkers. As Shipp sneers:

“With the type of cold-blooded capitalism that is practiced in western uncivilization [Shipp's intal], terrorism is an inescapable consequence. This country cannot be involved in wholesale corporate imperialism like it is and not expect some type of blowback.”

What we are experiencing “blowback” for is the fact that we allow musicians like Shipp the freedom of artistic expression. (Interesting to note, Nestor Torres in the same feature notes he was unable to perform his interdenominational musical project in a mosque because it was prohibited.) We are experiencing “blowback” because we allow women like Joanne Brackeen to perform, teach students, and show her face in public, not veiled beneath a burqa. We are experiencing “blowback” because we let people worship as they please, or even live a completely secular life.

We are at war with an extremely violent strain of intolerance that will not be appeased. Islamic Fascism seeks our destruction because what Shipp belittles as “western uncivilization” allows for religious and artistic freedom, not to mention the education of women. Having seen Islamic fascism destroy the great Buddhist monuments of Bamiyan, an artist like Shipp should understand the stakes the artistic community has in this struggle. Juvenile tirades about “the terrorist brotherhood of the bin Ladens and Bushes of the world” simply demonstrate his ignorance and immaturity.

There was one musician who got it. Not surprisingly, it was Paquito D’Rivera who wrote: “In our musical community, I see a very pronounced, fashionable and snobbish tendency to put down everything that is American, overlooking the positive qualities of our society.” The evidence of it is there in the very same round-up feature. He concludes:

“I have personally seen so many of my colleagues running like crazy behind immigration lawyers, marrying American citizens or doing anything to stay in U.S. territory; and as soon as they got their papers in order, they become the best vehicles to propagandize the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes, or even justify or celebrate the actions of Islamic terrorism. I don’t understand living in a place that you hate so much, being free to establish themselves someplace else; Cuba for example!”

The terrorist attacks of 9-11 had a devastating impact on New York's economy, which as a result had deep repercussions on music scene. Gigs dried up, and venues closed. Most importantly, almost 3,000 individuals were brutally murdered. Make no mistake, there is no place for a jazz musician in the world of Islamic Fascism. Neither is there room for anyone who does not subscribe to their extremist Islamic beliefs. Everyone who contributed to Downbeat’s 9-11 reflections has a stake in the fight we face, whether they want to acknowledge it, or not.

(Words and Music concurs. Like Rod, I've enjoyed Shipp's music, so I'm all the more disappointed by his comments.)

(Thanks to Gateway Pundit for taking developments in jazz seriously, as well. At least we can all count on Paquito D'Rivera for some sanity.)