How About an Opera 'Why Michael Brown Deserved to Die'?

A damning op-ed that also tells readers how to protest the Met's planned immoral travesty.

Michele Hickford

OpEds Michele Hickford
Michele Hickford

What do you think? Do you think if I write a thought-provoking, probingly-artistic contemporary opera on the subject of Michael Brown’s untimely shooting, it will be met with critical acclaim?

Maybe it will be performed by the New York Metropolitan Opera during its 2015 season, and will be described as “dialogue” on a difficult subject.

You don’t think so? I can’t imagine why.

It seems right in line with what the Met has planned this year with “The Death of Klinghofer.” You remember Leon Klinghofer, don’t you? He was the 69-year-old Jewish man who, in 1985, was pushed off the cruise ship Achille Lauro to his death by Palestinian terrorists. Pushed into the water in his wheelchair. Because he was Jewish.

The opera portrays this murder as justified, not only because of Palestinian grievances against Israel, but also by the alleged evil and exploitative actions of Jews against others around the world.

In the opera, the terrorists are presented as heroic freedom fighters, who have been forced by Jewish and Zionist oppression to take extreme actions – and what could be more extreme (and brave!) than pushing a wheelchair-bound senior citizen overboard?

In the opera’s libretto, there are passages that defame the Jews as a people. For example, the principal terrorist says, “Wherever poor men are gathered, they can find Jews getting fat. You know how to cheat the simple, exploit the virgin, pollute where you have exploited, defame those you cheated, and break your own law with idolatry.”

At one stage, the terrorist leader says to Klinghoffer, “America is one big Jew.”

The opening scene honors terrorists with a backdrop of graffiti on a wall proclaiming “Warsaw 1943, Bethlehem 2005,” implying a moral equivalence between the acts of the Nazis and Jews today.

The Palestinians sing, “We are soldiers fighting a war. We are not criminals and we are not vandals but men of ideals.”

How is this “art?” How is this blatantly anti-Semitic performance acceptable? How can the Metropolitan Opera justify this egregious move?

Would the Met stage that comedy classic, “My Son, Mohammad, the Bacon-Eating Cross-dresser?” Probably not.

How about that tragic romance, “The Mexican Problem?” I doubt it – not in an election year.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world as Israel attempts to defend itself against an aggressor sworn to its destruction. This anti-Semitism, hiding behind a facade of anti-Zionism, is unparalleled since Nazi Germany. We must not allow it to fester on our shores.

I hope you’ll join me in calling or emailing Peter Gelb, director of the Metropolitan Opera, and demanding he cancel this production. You may call him at 212-799-3100, extension 2891 or email

Original title, shortened due to programming restraints:I’m thinking of writing an opera called “Why Michael Brown Deserved to Die.”