If I was Helmut Mauro writing a critic about Helmut Mauro writing, I would write that he has no style. that his creative bravado is wondering between copy and paste of Latin phrases, that his flat and few ideas are scattered all over the place, that he possesses an understatement of a Kim Kardashian, and that anyway his counterpart from the sports department in Sueddeutsche Zeitung writes much better than him.
This is in essence what Mauro did with his vengeful and personal critic of pianist Igor Levit. After using two paragraphs for his legitimate and artistic critic of Levit, Mauro dedicates the rest of the essay to blast Levit for his other activities, mainly his tweets about politics.
It is a rollercoaster through Absurdistan: Mauro compares Levit’s acts to those of Paris Hilton, He blames him of „victim claim ideology“, and for using it to justify his acts (a discourse attributed mainly to the right wing). Mauro writes that Levit is friends with all the right people on twitter and that he meets with them everyday there, hinting that the many accolades and medals he had won, are not a conclusion of his talent alone. Mauro complains about Levit’s tweet about the AFD as a Nazi party, asks what is the purpose of Levit going after the right wing and anti-Semites, and wonders if his tweets really help fighting fascism.
It gets worse: Levit and his friends claim, according to the essay, „a moral right to hate and defamation“, and spread hatred while defending themselves. Mauro concludes his essay with bravado: he quotes a few of Levit’s upset, despairing and sad tweets about the attack on a Jew outside a synagogue in Hamburg, exactly one year after the attack in Halle. Mauro doesn’t understand why Levit has to do this and how it connected to his art.
There are two discussions here: why Mauro blasts into Levit so brutally and out of artistic context, and why would Sueddeutsche Zeitung print this on the front page of its Feuilleton?
In order to understand Mauro motives, we must bring in the Jewish issue. Mauro brings another Jewish figure, the conductor Daniel Barenboim who, according to the essay, jeopardize his reputation as an artist as a mediator between Israelis and Palestinians. Whereas Barenboim risks his reputation as artist (how exactly?), Levit got threats for his real life and he had to conduct a concert under the watching eye of the police. I would argue that Levit had a little bit more to lose with his acts.
So why it bothers Mauro so much that Levit is very active politically on Twitter? The answer is the content. Barenboim is not mediating between nobody other then himself and his ego. He goes around every where and trash Israel. This is the good Jew in Germany: you trash Israel you go up the ladder, you get a column, you will get a good review, or at least a pure one. People, especially Jews like Barenboim, are giving the German’s conscious a massage. He is making his hosts feel great by belittling who he really is.
Levit is the bad bad Jew. He points a finger toward his own society and tell it how bad it is. Levit is not an Arbeit guest, he is a German and he demands to be treated like one. Mauro tells him to shut up. Jews being attacked again? Tough luck, keep playing. AFD voting is growing? Why can’t you look on the other side and see all of those not voting for the AFD? Right wing infiltrated the top unit in the army and collected huge amounts of weapons? Listen, say thank you that we allow you to play and shut up. You have to play with police watching over your head? Isn’t Germany a wonderful country, you should be grateful. Stop complaining.
Mauro is privileged. He doesn’t get that with privilege come responsibility, to listen to those who are underprivileged, that suffers from political extremism first. Levit understand that attacks on Jews are the sign of things to come. He asks his comrades to wake up. On the same day that the article appeared, a man was murdered outside Paris for practicing his democratic rights. Reading Mauro, I don’t think he has the infrastructure to get it, but why don’t Sueddeutsche Zeitung get it, especially with their charged history of anti-Semitism?
After all, Levit is doing exactly what the paper preaches for. He uses his stature and his following to raise attention to the fight against far right and anti-Semitism in this country. When BLM was all the rage in America, the paper raved about artists and athletes who lent their voices and faces to the protest, so why an editor would let such an attack on Levit pass?
For the answer you will have to think about the fable about Scorpion and the Frog