Saturday, May 29, 2011, was truly a gala performance—the last evening of the Washington National Opera Season, plunked in the heart of the Memorial Day Weekend so there were a few, not many, rare empty seats—with Placido Domingo singing his last role after 15 years as General Director.
The opera, Christoph Gluck's masterpiece Iphigenie en Tauride, is based in part on the classic tragedies of Euripides and Aeschylus. It has Placido, as Orestes, lamenting his fate as murderer of his treacherous mother, Clytemnestra, who had killed his father, Agamemnon, when he returned from his heroic participation in the Trojan Wars. Rolling out the red carpet for him, Mrs. A did Mr. A in, precipitating Orestes' concomitant crime, for which he seems doomed to perpetual agony as the Fates pursue him.
No where in Gluck's opera does the name of Cassandra appear. Who? Why Cassandra, Agamemnon's concubine, of course. Her death was apparently deemed by Gluck as insignificant—yet she, in Aeschylus's Agamemnon, provided her leader lover strong forewarning of their impending deaths.
In fact, Cassandra was far from a nobody. As Wikipedia tells us [June 11, 2011]:
"Apollo's cursed gift became a source of endless pain and frustration. In some versions of the myth, this is symbolized by the god spitting into her mouth; in other Greek versions, this act was sufficient to remove the gift so recently given by Apollo, but Cassandra's case varies. From Aeschylus' Agamemnon, it appears that she has made a promise to Apollo to become his consort, but broke it, thus incurring his wrath: though she has retained the power of foresight, no one will believe her predictions.
"While Cassandra foresaw the destruction of Troy (she warned the Trojans about the Trojan Horse, the death of Agamemnon, and her own demise), she was unable to do anything to forestall these tragedies since no one believed her."
I wondered as I enjoyed the impressive special award ceremony honoring the great maestro on stage after the performance of the opera if any of that blue-ribbon crowd realized how ignoring the Cassandras of history had so often led to horrible results.
Recall it was Churchill, crying for years in the wilderness of political exile, who finally emerged as the leader of a desperate England, as the Third Reich trampled Continental Europe.
So who are the ignored Cassandras today? They are numerous. Even Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner speaks of the national debt crisis—but of course his party (mine) won't turn off the faucet of spending.
And what about our current spending on "defense"? It consumes over 50% of the discretionary Federal Budget proposed by President Obama in January 2010—pushing America faster to the point where its money will no longer be the world's reserve currency and it will become another Weimar Republic, where rampant inflation paved the way for the rise of the Third Reich.
And how can our government can allow over a million new legal and illegal immigrants yearly, despite the nearly 10% unemployment rate and the fact that eight million illegal aliens are now at work in jobs in the US? Or why we have added tens of millions of new immigrants, many without much education since 1965 without a national debate to secure our borders and observe our Rule of Law?
I am not totally gloomy.
A victory by any other name is still a victory. America's best print paper, the Wall Street Journal, carried the story on Page One right side, still the key print position, in its Friday, May 26th story: Justices Uphold Immigration Law: States can shut firms that hire illegal workers, by Jess Bravin and Miriam Jordan.
Of course, the Washington Post, in keeping with its usual Open Border bias, buried the same Supreme Court story on page A7.
But both stories were examples of less than balanced reporting. For example, the WSJ piece opened:
"The Supreme Court Thursday upheld an Arizona law that can put employers from fast-food chains to farms out of business for hiring illegal immigrants, sparking fears among businesses that they will be hamstrung by a patchwork of state regulations.
"The 5-3 ruling split the business community from immigration hardliners who hailed it as an affirmation of states' rights to crack down on illegal migrants."
Well, "illegal migrants" is an improvement over "undocumented immigrants", I guess. But "immigration hardliners" would be the 70% of American citizens who are mindful and unhappy with the present numbers.
Dear readers, at 80 years of age, I am glad I won't be here for the continuing immigration deluge and the other rapidly ripening pending follies mentioned earlier.
Because those those many Cassandra-like warnings were not heeded, be ready to take on increased pollution, to endure your stifling commutes, to watch your wavering republican governance become even more crippled with the power blocks that imported "diversity" has created, and to suffer the loss of rights, privileges and promise that my generation squandered by its rush to growth and its appetite for excess.
My generation ate that proverbial free lunch. Now yours will pay for it.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.