The idea that classical music is “white supremacist” is either (a) stupid or (b) an argument for white supremacy — for Western classical music is “supreme” in the arts and in music, a development not surpassed by other traditions, no matter how wonderful those other traditions be.

For the past month, I’ve been contemplating this bizarre article in The Telegraph, “Musical notation branded ‘colonialist’ by Oxford professor hoping to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum,” by Craig Simpson. It is written in a peculiar fashion and tells us of a woke brouhaha at Oxford University in Britain.

“Professors said the classical repertoire taught at Oxford, which spans works by Mozart and Beethoven, focuses too much on ‘white European music from the slave period.’” That this is dumb should be evident to anyone with a working knowledge of world history, or able to keep slightly complex ideas distinct in his or her (or zher) head. But it is a good example of how witless academics can be, so inane is this reaction to the demands of Black Lives Matter radicals. The whole article is worth reading, I suppose but, well, the issue is idiotic enough to make it hard to recommend.

Truth is, music is something almost anyone of any race can participate in, and the fine art tradition we call classical now has some of its best practitioners in the cultural “hinterlands,” not in the “white” cultural centers of Europe and America. The east in general and China in particular sports far more vibrant classical music cultures than does America, for example. America is decadent, its people largely devoted to popular music, most of it quite bad and some of it excruciatingly awful. That being said, I happily listen to and whistle in a vast musicscape that includes nearly everything from Tuva to Toronto to Timbuktu. More relevantly, studious Asian students of piano use the musical notation that one meddlesome Oxford professor has “branded ‘colonialist’” in the hopes of reforming his college’s “courses to focus less on white European culture.”

Alas, this set of ideas is everywhere, it seems — well, everywhere there are guilty white progressives and on-the-make PoC intellectuals. Popular (and usually savvy) music explainer Adam Neely made a video trying to make the case for this PC theory, but I gave up early. It is just too stupid a thesis: the basic logic problems just sit there, attentive and panting, as if eager to disprove all that follows. I commented a comment on a comment to that video:

Yes, this “classical music is white supremacist” gambit strikes me as stupid. But hey: if you want to push me into the camps of ethnonationalism, go ahead, you miserable idiots of the left.

Oh. And I am willing to argue the points. I suppose. But I first have to stop laughing.