The American tour of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela occasioned fascinating and occasionally intense debate on the Internet. Some were troubled by the sight of the young musicians donning Venezuelan national colors at a time when other students were protesting against Hugo Chávez's efforts to end presidential term limits and otherwise expand his powers. Bob Shingleton of On an Overgrown Path has been particularly outspoken, accusing musicians and administrators of complicity in authoritarian politics; here's a selection of his posts on the topic. Matthew Guerrieri mounted a vigorous and intelligent defense. What disturbs me, as I say in my New Yorker column, is that when politicians throw money at music, some in the classical business tend not to scrutinize the politics too closely. The twentieth century is richly stocked with cases in point. I have heard it said that the future of classical music is in Venezuela; I have also heard it said that the future of classical music lies in China. I, for one, am pretty content with classical music here in America, not least because it makes do largely without "official" support. (A story to watch: Mike Huckabee's dark-horse candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. As I noted last year, Huckabee is a determined supporter of music and arts education.) I'll throw a quotation from the maverick Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer into the continuing debate: "Art within the constraints of a system is political action in favor of that system, regardless of content."