Trump vs The Arts

Among the victims of President Donald Trump ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries is Kinan Azmeh, a noted Syrian clarinetist and composer. Presently, Azmeh is stuck in Beirut, even though he has an EB-1 “alien with extraordinary abilities” visa and has lived in New York for the last 16 years. The U.S. government prohibition for Azmeh (and to thousands of others) to return to his own home is a cruel and unnecessary measure that does a disservice to culture and the arts.

Azmeh is currently in Beirut, and planned to return to the U.S. this weekend, but he doesn’t know if he will be allowed to enter the U.S. because of the ban. “Our America is big, it is free, and it is open to dreamers of all races, all countries, all religions. Our vision of America is directly antithetical to that of President Trump. I want to specifically tonight reject his vision and affirm that America has to be better than that,” declared John Legend, the famous American musician and actor when he spoke at the Producers Guild of America awards.

For many observers, Trump executive orders feel like a vendetta, a revenge against all those who are demonstrating against him, as well as those who didn’t vote for him. Trump is clearly oblivious of the dozens of protests around the country against his government and constantly uses Twitter as a weapon of war against those that oppose him.

For example, after protesters in the University of California at Berkeley smashed windows and set fires to show their indignation at the scheduled speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a far-right Breitbart News editor, Trump tweeted, “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

Should Azmeh be not allowed to enter the U.S. it will be one more show of the Trump government’s intolerance, one that is not based on real facts, not “alternative facts” as claimed in her ungracious words by Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Donald Trump. Azmeh is not only a musician but also a human rights activist, whose talent has received international acclaim.

Kinan Azmeh, who was born in Damascus of Syrian parents, was the first Arab to win the first prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition in Moscow. Kinan is a graduate of New York prestigious Juilliard School of music, where he was a student of Charles Neidich, a world famous American clarinetist, composer and conductor. He is also a graduate of Damascus High Institute of Music and Damascus University. He earned his doctorate in music from the City University of New York.

Kinan has appeared as a soloist, composer and improviser in several prestigious places around the world such as: Opera Bastille in Paris, Tchaikovsky Grand Hall in Moscow, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Royal Albert Hall in London, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, der Philharmonie in Berlin, the U.S. Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Salzburg Mozarteum and the Damascus Opera House.

He has been a soloist with the Bavarian radio orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan orchestra founded by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim, the Kiev Camerata, the Izmir State Opera Orchestra, the New York Juilliard Ensemble, the Syrian Symphony Orchestra among many others. His compositions include works for solo, orchestra and chamber music and s a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.

Kinan doesn’t know if he will be allowed to return home and, even if he does, if he won’t face further difficulties from a government who has shown considerable intolerance to foreigners, particularly from Arab countries. If Kinan is not allowed to return to his home in New York and perform with total freedom, it will be one more stain on a government who has managed to antagonize big sectors of the population in the U.S., and is a source of almost universal scorn.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

November 19, 2018
David Rosen
Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer
Sheldon Richman
Art of the Smear: the Israel Lobby Busted
Chad Hanson
Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires
Dean Baker
Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?
Robert Fisk
We Remember the Great War, While Palestinians Live It
Dave Lindorff
Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security
Rick Baum
What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” Given Their Record in California?
Thomas Scott Tucker
Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry
John W. Whitehead
Red Flag Gun Laws
Newton Finn
On Earth, as in Heaven: the Utopianism of Edward Bellamy
Robert Fantina
Shithole Countries: Made in the USA
René Voss
Have Your Say about Ranching in Our Point Reyes National Seashore
Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace