The Muse of History is persistent, especially when we turn our backs on historical truth. I've no doubt that She was behind the stunning revelation of a $1.2 billion trove of art found in Germany and mostly composed of what the Nazis called "degenerate art."
It's for another time to figure out why political reactionaries of all stripes have conventional, even banal taste in art and music. But when you add organized violence and theft to questions of taste, you get "degenerate art" as a concept, and then theft and then the murder of its owners.
But it is for right now to figure out why so little attention is being paid to resurgent Nazi movements across Europe, and their murder, again, of contemporary artists.
In Hungary, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia and other countries there are genuine Nazi movements which have moved into the mainstream of political and parliamentary life. There are examples aplenty, but one particular crime seems even more troubling after the German art trove finding. Two months ago Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper otherwise known as MC Killah P, was surrounded by a street gang wearing the insignia of Golden Dawn, the resurgent Nazi Party in Greece, and stabbed to death. For "degenerate music," I presume.
Golden Dawn is not a fringe voice in Greek politics. It holds 18 parliamentary seats.
In Latvia, I witnessed a march in support of surviving members of the Latvian Legion, the Waffen-SS unit that swore loyalty to Hitler.
In Russia, organized gangs are beating up those with dark skin, and reigniting the flames of anti-Semitism.
There's much, much more. In the United States there's a collective disbelief that Nazism could return. Our image of Nazism is more the "Hogan's Heroes" myth of fatuous bumblers than the realities of Auschwitz or the massacre at Malmedy.
The Muse of History has gifted us with the recovery of works of existential beauty and meaning. It is stirring a discussion of what happened seventy-five years ago and that's all to the good.
The art community might consider how to apply all this to the realities of Nazi movements today. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The murder of Mr. Fyssas, in response to his music, brings it swiftly and inexorably back to center stage. It's happening again.