What Harm is Being Done to World Musical Culture by the Wars between the West and Muslim Peoples?
A recent documentary discussed yesterday, on National Public Radio, reminds us of the US instigated and supported slaughter in Indonesia—in cooperation with Indonesian military forces—of somewhere between 600,000 to one million Indonesians.
(You can hear one version of this story, here:
If one begins to trace simply the number of direct and indirect US military interventions in the Muslim countries since that time, or since the beginning of the last century, the quantity of them would appall the average American, and perhaps compel US citizens to take stock of the sheer masses of people killed by such US action over the years in what we call "the Islamic World."
In the Muslim areas of the Philippines alone, many hundreds of thousands were killed, as part of the US occupation of that region during and after the Spanish American War (1898). Mark Twain, in 1906, wrote in disgust, with much cynicism and sarcasm, about the US slaughters in just one of the battles:
The next heading blazes with American and Christian glory like to the sun in the zenith:
"Death List is Now 900."
I was never so enthusiastically proud of the flag till now!
Comments on the Moro Massacre by Mark Twain (March 12, 1906)
One could list about 35 US military interventions in Muslim countries from that time until today, during which significant numbers of Muslims were killed.
Add to that all the colonial activity of France and UK, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the subsequent betrayal of the Arabs via the Sykes-Picot Agreement (according to which, Arabs were promised their freedom during the period 1920-1922, as Turkish Ottoman rule was being overthrown, only to discover when the Turks were defeated, the Arab peoples were now part of the British and French Empires respectively).
People in the West have to wonder why there is no love lost between the Arab and Muslim peoples, and their former colonial masters; and Muslims and the US government—the current (neo-colonial) master of much of the Arab World and many parts of Africa, both Muslim and Christian.
So what effect does this have on Culture in general, and World Musical Culture in particular?
My own view is that a sort of "Berlin Wall" has been built in the minds of many Westerners, between "Western Music," and Eastern Music (especially Muslim, or Arab, Turkish and Persian Music). This is partly evidenced simply by a careful examination of computer composer software, which is not yet even designed to allow for any sophisticated use of Arab tunings. (Logic X has, out of scores and scores of possible tunings, only one Arabic tuning, called "Arab empirical." I am grateful, actually to have even that).
I think the hostility of the US, the condescension and marginalization of Arab and Muslim culture, by the West as a whole, is obvious, palpable, and deleterious in the extreme. There are too many examples to cite, and I dare to suggest that those who have not visited the Middle East, or lived in the region, may not even notice that there is such a thing as Middle Eastern culture, other than that which is caricatured and distortedly presented by the mainstream US and Western news and media outlets.
What effect do composers think this may have on the ability of Western musical culture, or World musical culture, to create, in an open and tolerant environment, a new musical synthesis of cultural import—one that may sooth and uplift the world, bring it together, and allow the dissolution of false boundaries that keep human beings apart from one another?