When a great, powerful, wealthy nation invites the entire world to become part of its family, there is no area of life that is not affected. You may have thought about Hispanic, Muslim, and Indian immigration and how it changes the texture of our lives. But have you thought, for example, about the influx of Chinese piano students?
If there is truth in the stereotypes, the high I.Q.s and nimble fingers many East Asians are blessed with would seem to favor them in classical music performance. And if Americans are going to abandon their Western musical heritage in favor of hip-hop and Third World music, then let the Asians have classical. Let those who are willing to pay the price enjoy the fruits it brings.
But should American music conservatories be paying the tab for the musical training of foreigners?
According to this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 percent of all new students in the full-scholarship Curtis Institute of Music come from mainland China (not our old friend Taiwan). But reading the article more carefully, it appears that at least a third, if not half, of the new students are East Asian, including people from Korea as well as East Asians who grew up in the United States.
Who can resist a full scholarship and the green card and citizenship that will eventually be granted? I wonder if Americans can comprehend the motivation people from countries like China have to work, work, work so they can make it in America by obtaining a position like this.
I recently met a young American who also considers himself a musician. His concept of being a musician, though, is not to practice the works of the masters for years with the slim hope of making a living teaching and performing. Rather, he works lousy day jobs, shares an apartment with several friends, and in his spare time creates rambling collages of sound with angry, incomprehensible lyrics. Performances of the music go together with indulgence in controlled substances. Now, this young man, too, is high-I.Q. and nimble-fingered. But to me, he looks like a lost soul. His parents worry about him, but have no control over what he does. And, really, from his point of view, why should he go the conventional route and get an M.B.A. or a computer degree? Why would he want to join the military and be sent to Iraq? He is a sensitive soul. What future is offered to someone like him in America today?
Of course the Curtis Institute, as a contemporary liberal American institution, is falling over itself to bring in Chinese students – eager to lure them from the other institutions that are doing exactly the same thing – without the slightest notion that its identity as an American institution might warrant some restraint in international recruiting efforts. In China itself, classical music is now seen as a necessary trapping of modernity, and seems to have a strong emotional draw on young people. Daniel Pipes has argued that “You Need Beethoven to Modernize.” It is interesting that this seems to be true even when the West itself is losing interest in classical music.
This Herald Tribune article expresses more clearly the “outsourcing” mentality – the idea that a country like China could “save” classical music from the neglect it suffers in Western countries. “Jobs Americans won’t do,” you see. The question that is not addressed is, why won’t we do them, and can and should we do something to change the situation?
I have nothing but respect for brilliant musicians, regardless of nationality. But what does it say about people of European descent when we are unable, or unwilling, to maintain by ourselves the tradition the classical music represents? Are we to import our workforce for even this?
Of course, I may be “barking up the wrong tree” in regretting the lack of American sovereignty in the area of classical music. Though we have had our Leonard Bernsteins and Aaron Copelands, classical music has always been a Europe-centered genre, though important to the bourgeois sector of American society. Today, the classical world strives to be transnational, as demonstrated in the musician biographies on concert programs, which oddly list the highlights in the individual’s music career but never state the performer’s nationality. Also, America has mixed feelings about classical music. “Middle Americans” have tended to hold it at arm’s length. My mother, I understand, learned about classical music through a college course. Excited with the discovery, she brought several classical records home to her parents when she came home for break. To her dismay, they made fun of her “high-class” aspirations, and the records remained unopened in their shrink-wraps until years later, when my grandmother had to move out of her home.
The same kind of people who are good at classical music tend to be good at mathematics and science. In the United States, many fields in science, technology, and mathematics are also becoming dominated by Indians and East Asians. It took me a 30-second Google search to find an example: take a look at the graduate students in the University of Michigan’s Department of Statistics. Five Wangs, five Zhangs, three Zhous, three Guos, one Brown, and one Smith.
Do white Americans really think that when the ethnic takeover of these fields is complete that these fields will still be open to them? Do they think that those Indians and Asians who have already become professors and administrators do not grant preference in admission to students from their own countries?
But then, we are living in a United States that is poised to elect Barack Hussein Obama as its next President. Obama is almost a non-entity in himself; until he began to rise in the Democrat primaries, there was no particular reason to see him as a likely candidate. But now that he has arrived, we can see that something like this was inevitable. He offers a solution for the confused American spirit which wants to prove itself liberal enough to elect a non-white President. And for the first time in history, all of the institutions of the society are backing one candidate, including the opposition party, who for the first time have been unable to convince themselves, let alone voters, that they deserve the presidency. And the abdication by the Republicans of the duty to wholeheartedly oppose the Democrats and their leftism is the real reason it is now seeming almost certain Obama will be elected.
Nicholas Kristof, in his most recent column, illustrates the delusional thinking underlying the support of many whites for Obama. It is wrong, says Kristoff, to vote for a candidate on the basis of his color, but it will still be good to have a president of a particular color.
Kristoff shows his naivite in depicting a conversation with a Chinese friend about Obama:
She: Obama? But he’s the black man, isn’t he?
Me: Yes, exactly.
She: But surely a black man couldn’t become president of the United States?
Me: It looks as if he’ll be elected.
She: But president? That’s such an important job! In America, I thought blacks were janitors and laborers.
Me: No, blacks have all kinds of jobs.
She: What do white people think about that, about getting a black president? Are they upset? Are they angry?
Me: No, of course not! If Obama is elected, it’ll be because white people voted for him.
She: Really? Unbelievable! What an amazing country!
Have Americans always wanted to be liked this much? Everywhere I look I see the almost gluttonous pleasure Americans take in helping refugees, minorities, immigrants, by inviting them into our society and paying the bill (or, more often, letting others pay the bill). The Obama phenomenon, though completely different, is in accord with this. So many are convinced that proving we’re not “racist” by electing a black (mixed-race?) president will gain us the goodwill of the world. It doesn’t seem to occur to Kristof that his Chinese friend’s comment that America is “amazing” may not express an entirely positive meaning. The Chinese would never dream of handing their society over to non-Chinese. On the other hand, if America is going to do so, they’re going to make sure they get as much as possible.
Where do we go from here? We have to separate ourselves from the madness, first. Later, we may need to actually physically separate ourselves from the liberal society. To paraphrase the group Show of Hands, one place to start is by learning our stories and our songs (classical or not). You’ll be hearing more of and about those at this site.