Vail Daily letter: Tribute to a crook
Vail, CO, Colorado
Well, after everyone picked their jaws up off the floor in the office, there was a collective “What?” in response to George Middlemas’ defense of keeping his pal Alberto Vilar’s name on the Beaver Creek arts center.
Where to begin …
First, let me commend Mr. Middlemas on his writing style. To go from the laughable hautiness of “schadenfreude” to the petulant and equally laughable “nya nya nya nya nya nya” quality of “Perhaps Mr. Dillon would care to make a major pledge so as to rename one of these venues” is truly enviable. Not many people can go from pretentious to infantile in two paragraphs flat, presumably while keeping a straight face at his keyboard.
Mr. Vilar’s buddy misses the point. Well, a couple of points.
First, while Vilar may indeed have “kept his word” to the Vilar Center, the question is begged: With whose money?
The man was just sentenced for having stolen millions upon millions. And while it would take a forensic accountant to determine if even a dollar donated to the center was the result of ill gotten gains, if there is even the remotest possibility (and I think his conviction would fall under what you might call “reasonable doubt”), his name must go. Perhaps the names of those from whom he stole should grace the center.
Second, it doesn’t matter if he was a good guy to the center. He is a thief. And make no mistake, the fact that he was an opera lover and donated to cultural causes makes not a bit of difference. In character, he is no different than someone who robs a 7-11. Stealing is stealing. And I think Americans are fed up with Wall Street thieves being excused while only the common crook bears the stigma of “thief.” Once a name is disgraced, everything bearing that name carries that disgrace.
It is paying tribute to a crook. And I would be writing the same letters if I lived in a community that had a Bernie Madoff Performing Arts Center or an O.J. Simpson Memorial Football Field.
I worked in the arts for over 25 years and it offends me to see the name of a criminal on a cultural institution.
Oh, and one last thing, Mr. Middlemas: a schadenfreude is someone who derives joy from the misfortune of others. There is no “misfortune” in being convicted of stealing. There is only guilt and shame. And I am not enjoying this debate one bit. I wish it didn’t need to happen. I wish Mr. Vilar had been an honest man. But he wasn’t. I respect arts institutions too much to hold my tongue on this one. His name has no business receiving the same sort of homage as a man like Gerald Ford. And if you think so, Mr. Middlemas, then I question your moral sense, along with your chum Vilar’s.
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