Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald continues in his recent regretful vein with a spate of apologies for various musical offenses to Sharia propriety:
I apologize to the Muslim Community of Europe and North America for that B-Minor Mass they have to endure, should they accidentally turn the dial to the last classical music stations standing in the Western world round about Christmas. I apologize for all those pesky Christmas carols which still seem to have something to do with Christmas as a celebration of the Birth of Christ (“Silent Night,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem”) — though of course not for “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as sung by Gene Autry or “Jingle-Bell Rock” as sung by anyone. I apologize for Bach in general. I apologize for Monteverdi (not “Montiverdi,” as his name was long ago engraved on the wall of Paine Hall, at a certain famous university that does not know how to spell).
I apologize for Isaac Watts and the entire contents of all hymnals in, as Gabby Hayes used the say, the whole United States — and Texas. I apologize for other hymnals, whether in Europe, Africa, or Latin America, or Asia, or Australia, wherever hymnals can — so sorry — still be found. I apologize for the Andrews Sisters, and especially for “Bei Mir Bist Du Shon” (put the diaeresis in yourself, please, I can’t be expected to do everything). I apologize for Palestrina, but if one takes out that “r” — see — does that make you feel better?
I apologize for all those songs which appear to suggest that men and women can flirt, dance, sing, do all kinds of things, and even not impossibly live happily ever after, if they’ve a mind to, but meanwhile are having a good time anyway. For this view of things is one that does not get a whole lot of air-time on the Muslim International Satellite Channel, though let’s not forget that in the very distant past, there were poets in Dar al-Islam who had something to say on these matters. Many were Persians: Hafiz, Sa’adi, Omar Khayyam, amidst all the real and imaginary roses and bulbuls of Gulistan, where the fountains gurgle and gazelle-like girls wander among those roses and listen to those nightingales. Arabic-language poets as well, but in even more distant days. Pre-Islamic Qays, for example, or possibly not pre-Islamic at all, depending on when you date the Mu”allaqat, or “Hanging Poems,” and who you think wrote “Ed I miei occhi piangono d”amore” (sounds like an aria, doesn’t it, when given in Italian? So let’s stick to Italian for our titles). And since I”ve already imagined that sweet gazelle of Gulistan, let’s add that Siculo-Arab (“hey, Gennaro, you want a piece of me?” he used to ask his Christian neighbors, whenever he wanted to start trouble in the mean streets of Palermo) Al-Billanubi, with “Oh gazzella mia ammaliante”), or Al-Tubi (“La tua belleza”) but I won’t mention Abu Nuwas — not only because Qaradawi might not be pleased, but also because it gets us away from the main theme, to wit: Men and Women.
Of course there was a whole lot of other kinds of poetry, that had nothing to do with love: panegyrics to potentates, designed to obtain a hoped-for place or payment or preferment. And if it was not forthcoming, those panegyrics would be followed by — same poet, same potentate — venomous attacks. See al-Mutanabbi, after whom that street with the booksellers in Baghdad is named. But there was stuff that, while it observed the outward rules of decorum, would offer another meaning (see more on this at “Call Us Prudes: A Note on Verbal Decorum” and thread following). For example, Faris al-‘Arab, who ends “La donna mi dice” with “(ma ora, chi sa, fermi in una bassura,/se ancora m’accogli…, che galoppata dura.”) Well, I’ll leave that “bassura” and that implied accogliamento up to you to figure out, but that “galoppata dura” at the end says it all. Horseman — what of that night? Call in the cavalry.
Now let me get back to apologizing, if you don’t mind. I apologize for “You Were Meant For Me/And I Was Meant For You.” Puts women on the same level as men, and suggests that love has something to do with it, and what, asks Islam, does “love have to do with it?” So I apologize. And I apologize for Fats Waller’s “The Porter’s Love Song to a Chambermaid.” Puts Porter and Chambermaid on an equal footing: “I will be the dustmop/You can be the broom/We will sweep together/All around the room.” “Sweeping” here may anticipate, or hint at, the later Italian slang involving the words “scopa” (broom) and “scopare” (to sweep), but I wouldn’t bet a dustmop on it.
I apologize for “(Let’s Build) A Stairway to the Stars.” No one can do that except Muhammad, on his winged quasi-steed al-Buraq. I apologize for “I Hear You Knocking But You Can’t Come In.” Sounds like a woman has a right to Say No, and that just isn’t true. I apologize for Ethel Waters’s rendition of “Mr. Iceman.” And “Mr. Coalman.” I apologize for Billie Holiday. I apologize for Ruth Etting and “Ten Cents a Dance.” I apologize for Joyce Kane with her brazen betty-boop routine. I apologize for flappers, for the songs to which people danced the chicachoca samba or the Lindy Hope or the Charleston or the Fox Trot or the Waltz or the high lavolt.
I apologize. I apologize. I apologize. And if you have your way — you people to whom I have been so busy apologizing, in this article and this one before it — and in so doing I am merely joining a cast of thousands of Infidel political and religious leaders who presume to speak in the name of all of us when they too apologize — there will be, in the end, no songs, no books, no paintings, no sculptures, for which they, or I, or any other Infidel, will have to apologize, apologize, apologize.