In Copenhagen, Denmark, the technical mayor, Klaus Bondam, has proposed re-naming a street, Pumpehusvej, after Danish composer Thomas Koppel (1944 – 2006). This is a in some accordance with a Danish tradition of honoring artists by naming streets after them – H.C. Andersens Street, Karen Blixen Street and even Wagner Street.
A member of the Copenhagen city council, Lars Dueholm, flatly refused this, on behalf of his party, the reason being that Thomas Koppel had openly criticized the Danish government, openly voiced support to the terrorists in Iraq, and even compared the Danish press to Joseph Goebbels’ propaganda machine.
Now, really, what’s with this? This man, Thomas Koppel, was an immensely talented artist, whether or not you agreed with his view. He wasn’t even, as far as I have been able to find out, violent – unlike Richard Wagner, who we have streets named after, who ordered the production of weapons and hand grenades for revolutionaries in Dresden. It would seem the ban on naming streets after controversials only applies if their criticism has been directed at the current government.
Give it a rest, I say. If you can’t take some criticism, get out of politics! And don’t start determining what artists get honored based on their views or their beliefs, but base it on a fair look at the work of their life. We may all yet be a lot wiser in the future, and maybe it turns out these critical individuals were right all along.
Thanks to Alex for pointing out the weapons and hand grenades Wagner ordered.