Edelweiss is a flower that grows high in the alps. It is also a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music. It is named after the edelweiss, a white flower found high in the Alps. The song was created for the 1959 Broadway production of The Sound of Music, as a song for the character Captain Georg von Trapp. In the musical, Captain von Trapp and his family sing this song during the concert near the end of Act II, as a statement of Austrian patriotism in the face of the pressure put upon him to join the navy of Nazi Germany. Some thought it was the Austrian National anthem and it is not although since the movie appeared many thought it should be. It was written by two Jewish composers and musician – Rogers and Hammerstein. It is to me the best song in the movie and I tried out for our High School production hoping I could sing Edelweiss. The song exhibits pride in the Captains homeland and a sense of longing for what he knows he is going to lose. The play and movie themselves have the tension of loss of country and place as well as a sense of joy in family and the fellowship of good friends. It is a lovely, sweet, and really quite precious production. It is of course like all things that are good and decent under attack.
Sometime back there was some gathering at the White House and inside the Marine Corps band was playing “Edelweiss”. Maggie Habermann of the New York times seeing a chance to corrupt and ruin something beautiful and praiseworthy said that it was a dogwhistle to Trumps neo-nazi supporters.
So here is my issue – this person with a platform, takes what for many of my generation is, and I hate this word, iconic. It is family entertainment and one of the few movies back in the day that a family could enjoy together. People love the music. To say that a beautiful simple song written by two Jewish men is a dog whistle to Nazi’s is either -1. Ignorant, 2. Stupid, or 3. Evil.
I can certainly go with ignorant. Like many people who seem to be commentators on everything, Maggie Habermann knows very little about anything. Her source information is twitter and twittering class and what used to be called the “nattering nabobs of negativity”. Many people today cannot tell who the allies were in World War II and who they were fighting. They know nothing of the events that led up to the War and they certainly know nothing of the Ansluss. They know nothing of the fact that many Austrians wanted to be part of a greater Germany and that to this day there are wounds left over from that period. The Austrians who detested Nazism were basically stabbed in the back by a corrupted political system and lost their freedom and history. Since there is a lot of ignorance about the war I can understand some ignorance about the movie if you have not seen it.
I can go with stupid too. To state that Edelweiss is a dog whistle to Nazi’s when it is the opposite can be a point of pride among the uber smart (in their minds), and kind of an avant-garde weird explanation of societal and cultural anomalies. Some were so appaled at what Habermann wrote they concluded that she had somehow gotten into her head Amazon’s hit show The Man in the High Castle. That show repurposed “Edelweiss” as a creepy lament — in an alternate universe where the Nazis win World War II and conquer a third of America. It makes some sense because I believe that most of the so called media and much of what purports to be cultural trend setters in this country really do live in an alternate universe and consider Winterfell and Kings Landing and the whole universe of HBO specials more real than reality.
I sometimes think that this is evil. To take something decent and gentle and lovely and twist it or pervert it or corrupt how people feel about is degeneration at an extreme level. To do so to throw shade on a politician is reprehensible. To do so to pervert a cultural icon that stood for decency, patriotism love of family and rejoicing in God’s grace is evil. Today we make fun of “Father Knows Best”, “Ozzy and Harriot” as old fashioned and stupid and patriarchal and wallow in what ten or 12 years ago would be considered the sick and perverted. The truly weird is being made mainstream and what was once the mainstream is considered weird. My mind keeps going back to Romans 1: 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
They have no mercy. Fascinating.
For now, because I don’t want to break the 8th commandment I will chalk up the remarks to stupid. The hills and valleys and the fruited plains and the halls of academe and government are alive with the sound of stupid.
More examples later.