Critic Swallows Repellent Inanities from Leftist Artist Laurie Anderson

Music critic Allan Kozinn took in a performance by art rocker and audio-haze merchant Laurie Anderson at Zankle Hall for his review, "The State of the United States, in a Chamber-Rock Stew."


Kozinn's job isn't to provide perceptive political commentary, but since he seems to nod along with Anderson's pacifist outlook, it's striking he doesn't comment on what sounds like a disgusting comparison made by Anderson between U.S. Army enlistees and Palestinians blowing Israeli citizens up in suicide bombings.


"Homeland" deals partly with the loss of freedom in a security state and partly with the Iraq war and contemporary war in general. Ms. Anderson evokes images of a young woman with a "baby face" enlisting in the United States Army as a way to pay for her education, and young Palestinians wearing suicide vests, observing that war today is "a kid's war," another "children's crusade," with no restrictions: "anyone can join."


A song with echoes of a 1950s ballad style, updated by way of early, parodistic Frank Zappa and a dash of electronica, examines a sort of Rumsfeldian cynicism, represented by the assertion that our problems are so complex that only experts can deal with them. Ms. Anderson transforms that idea into a close relative: that problems are only problems when experts say they are. Torture? No problem. Invading a country and causing chaos and civil war? No problem. Experts, she tells us, are people who carry malpractice insurance because their solutions often become the problem.


What Kozinn called "Rumsfeldian" cynicism sounds a lot like left-wing elitism applied to the market - that it takes a strong government staffed by expert bureaucrats with advanced degreed to work the many and various levers of a modern economy.


It's not Kozinn's first foray into translating an artsy liberal happening into dumbly reductive terms. In September 2004, during the Republican Convention in Manhattan (in which local and bussed-in liberals descended on GOP guests like the murder scene in "Lord of the Flies"), Kozinn took in a "collaborative performance piece" and wrote:


In purely artistic terms, the most affecting performance was the Roerich String Quartet's incandescent reading of the slow movement from Beethoven's Quartet No. 15 (Op. 132), a work written at a time and place far from the current troubles. But Beethoven was an idealist who opposed tyranny, and in the context of a discussion about curtailed civil liberties, elective war and a striving toward empire - the subjects of several of the speeches - it seemed entirely at home.