Liberty, Freedom, Justice for All? (Viva la libertá!?)

Last night I watched an amazing production of Rossini's final opera - William Tell - from the Rossini Festival in Pesaro with Juan Diego Flores as Arnold and Nicola Alaimo as Tell. It was amazing. A beautiful production and beautifully sung.
But what struck me is that this work from the early part of the 19th century and like many works from a variety of writers, composers and artists it deals with issues of liberty and freedom. The Swiss, in this case, are oppressed by the Austrians and (spoiler alert) after the famous incident where Tell shoots the apple off of his son's head the Austrians are finally routed and the bright rays of freedom begin to shine. It is perhaps like many works of the time overly simplistic, but it is a common theme - think Beethoven (Eroica, Fidelio) or even Mozart (Nozze of Don Giovanni "Viva la libertá!") Works and writings about freedom and liberty emerged in the late 18th century and had a huge impact on Europeans who were tired of the oppressive regimes of absolute monarchs and on fledgling colonies, like the United States, who could clearly see the dangers of absolute monarchs and took steps to preclude that kind of governmental structure. Despite its flaws (and there are many flaws and loopholes created by the group of entitled and privileged white, male land owners we call the "Founding Fathers") it nevertheless was an exciting idea - government by and for the people rather than a government by an established, rich, landed, paternalistic aristocracy, whose abuses were well known.
Americans embraced this concept of liberty and freedom for all, even if it excluded people of color and women, as being an improvement. And over the years the American experiment has attempted to rectify those loop-holes with varying success. But what, in particular, struck me as I watched the struggles on stage between the Swiss Freedom Fighters against the oppressive cruel Austrians is how our current government is much more like the Austrians in this story of William Tell than like the Swiss. And for some reason, there is a sizable part of the population which thinks this is ok. I frankly don't get it! There was a reason the Framers of the Constitution wanted to preclude any hint of a monarch or aristocracy in government. And some of those reason are on full display every day at the campaign rallies, I mean, pandemic briefings to which we are subject daily by this current administration.
This man who occupies this nation's highest office is everything the original framers objected to - he is landed, privileged and completely self-centered. He has no respect for the constitution and presumes powers and privileges which are not his. And not only that but he is sexist, racist, anti-semitic and cruel. And those who support him are either complicit or cowards. In either case they all need to be removed from office. To be clear, this man is not a conservative - don't give me the gaslighting excuse that this is liberal verses conservative. There is nothing conservative about him. He has ripped up all traditionally conservative values.
But why have we abandoned our commitment to liberty and justice and freedom and why do we seem so quick to submit to a totalitarian ruler who is incompetent and basically cruel and really doesn't care about anyone but himself? This white house has completely bungled the pandemic response and continues to make things worse. Why are the states having to compete with FEMA for supplies? That is ridiculous. Why are all states not on a total stay-at-home order? Why are we even considering using a drug to treat this virus that has proven itself to be not even close to effective and has its own serious side effects just because Mr. Conflict of Interest is pushing it? Why are the medical experts silenced in favor of no nothing political functionaries?
This (so-called) president needs to be removed from office; his supporters need to be removed from office and some of them need to be prosecuted and jailed and we need courageous leadership that will take charge of this situation using the best and most up to date information and utilizing the best scientific and medical experts.
Short of this, you can look forward to seeing the ideals of liberty, justice and freedom drift farther and farther away. There is a reason that the early middle ages are called the "Dark Ages" and it isn't because we don't know what happened during that time. It is because it was a time of disease and violence and oppression when a powerful aristocracy emerged with the blessing of the church. Well, if we continue the road we are on - welcome to the New Dark Ages!

For some inspiration - check out William Tell.


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