Tag Archives: politics

Hinted accusation?

rossini-gioachino
Gioacchino Rossini, composer of “The Barber of Seville” in 1815

First a mere insinuation, just a hinted accusation, slowly growing to a rumor, which will shortly start to flow.

What began as innuendo Soon is swelling in crescendo; Gossip turning into scandal, Stopping nowhere hard to handle… 

Those lines were written 200 years ago for Rossini’s “Barber of Seville,” illustrating how to use slander or calumney (calunnia, in Italian) to ruin a rival’s reputation.
pretty-yende
I saw the fabulous South African coloratura Pretty Yende in this opera at the Met today and couldn’t help comparing compare the aria The Art of Slander, sung by Basilio, to “alternative facts.” And to the Tea Party’s slandering of Obama. And to “fake news,” like what inspired a guy to bring a rifle to a DC pizza parlor.
Other writers have been noticng the same thing.

From the start of Obama’s administration, there were rumors he was a Muslim, not an American citizen, that he was a racist, and worst of all, a socialist. These rumors were repeated and used to fan the fire of the ill-will of people who were quite legitimately upset with what had happened to the country. However, the calumny was used to target a president who had nothing to do with what got us here, and it has been used to fan the hatred against him, disrespect him, and do the absolute opposite of what he’s trying to do to fix the economy. All in all, it’s quite cynical.

Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum all must have have taken a lesson from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. (From the Musical Almanac). 

This exciting production continues at the Met through February 11. Here are the complete lyrics and here is the video of Samuel Ramey in Rossini’s “La Calumnia” Start at Minute Two.

What can we do in the 21st century to keep calumny from being effective?

Mix cricket with honey – or eat crow

Alternate 11-9 Cover & Front (1-8).indd

“In Trump’s America, don’t look for lurid conspiracies in the shadows. Beware of the dull ones that are right out in the open.” 

So says Diccon Hyatt in a column about conspiracy theories in a November 16 column in U.S. 1 Newspaper one of the more rational of the florid post-election conversations. “The Podesta e-mails revealed a truth that was much more frightening than a conspiracy. Most of the e-mails were routine campaign strategizing, and it is in these e-mails that a picture emerges. The campaign had no idea how to beat Donald Trump.”

Richard K. Rein also commented on the national politics on November 9 and November 16. 

Politics?? I tell people I meet,  at the chamber and elsewhere, that U.S. 1 “doesn’t do politics” and then I have to add “except when it does.” Back in the day we did a cover story on Rush Holt. And though the issue went to press on the DAY of the election Tuesday, Rein put prognosticators Sam Wong and David Daley on the cover.wang_pic

Wang has always been one of my favorite researchers to listen to and write about. As a Princeton University neuroscientist, and the author of books with broad appeal like “Welcome to Your Brain,” he doesn’t put on airs. One of his several passions is his effort to expose the bad effects of gerrymandering. “So no matter what the outcome of the national election, Rein wrote, “expect Wang to continue his work on the gerrymandering issue, which he shares with the public at gerrymander.princeton.edu.

The cobbled-together story in U.S. 1 combined excerpts from Wong’s blog at Princeton Election Consortium with quotes on Wong from David Daley’s book on gerrymandering plus bits from Wong’s lectures to alumni. But it was a way to cover national politics from a Princeton perspective,  so it worked.

Wrote Rein: “So if Wang is wrong in this tumultuous year, he will not only eat a bug (as he promised to do in 2012 if Romney had upset Obama), but he will surely go back to the statistical drawing board, to figure out where and what he and the collective public opinion polls had missed.”

Here is the New York Times column today where he explains why he had to eat the bug. Here is the CNN video of Wang eating the bug. It was a cricket, mixed with honey, as Wang noted, in the style of John the Baptist. Would it be unkind to suggest that his sources, the pollsters, eat crow?