Canceling an Artist Because He’s Russian Is Nothing Short of Bigotry
The war in Ukraine is an atrocity. Sadly, so are some of the attempts to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
Russian restaurants in the U.S. have had windows smashed in and received bomb threats—when their owners have not only condemned the war but aren’t even from Russia. Buildings with Russian cultural ties have been defaced. Much of the world is severing academic and professional ties with Russians, employing a nationality-based litmus test to punish people for a war they did not start and may not support.
The world of classical music took another embarrassing turn in that narrow-minded direction last week when a 20-year-old Russian pianist lost a string of engagements across Canada, with both the Vancouver Recital Society and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) saying it would be inappropriate to host a Russian artist at this time or in the near future. “Considering the serious impact on the civilian population of Ukraine caused by the Russian invasion,” the OSM wrote in a statement, it “must announce the withdrawal of pianist Alexander Malofeev.”
There are several immediate problems with that approach, but the most glaring: Malofeev condemned the war in Ukraine—not an easy task for someone who lives in the heart of a murderous authoritarian regime where dissidents are sometimes imprisoned, poisoned, or killed. It should be difficult to sell repackaged racial and ethnic discrimination as a brave stance against oppression, but, somehow, people are buying it.
That this is what’s happening is not really up for debate. For its part, the Vancouver Recital Society originally nixed Malofeev under the guise that he hadn’t spoken out forcefully enough against the war. Then he did. But while the organization said they “appreciate his words”—words that can come with quite
Article from Reason.com