The murder of nine black people in a South Carolina church by a man who flaunted the Confederate battle flag spawned a campaign against Confederate symbolism and historical monuments. Now, the recent mass shooting at a Louisiana movie theater by a man who liked Hitler has prompted a campaign against Nazi symbolism, even when used as satire. From the Washingtonian:
Olney Theatre’s production of Mel Brooks’s 2001 musical The Producers only has three more performances, but it’s not going to close without a bit of manufactured controversy. Audience members at Montgomery County playhouse are going to have to walk past a small coterie protesting the show’s play-within-the-play, because, the demonstrators say, it makes light of Adolf Hitler and the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany.
“I understand the intent is satire,” says Jeffrey Imm, who is organizing the demonstration through his anti-discrimination group, Responsible for Equality And Liberty. “This is the point of morality: some things we have to recognize as absolute evil. When 6 million people are murdered, we don’t view it with knee-slapping, we view it with reverence.”
Imm went on to declare, “We cannot laugh about that.” The irony of protesting fascism with a blanket declaration of what can’t be laughed at appears to be lost on Mr. Imm.
The intent behind The Producers can be easily discerned, if not from the material itself, then from the man who wrote it. Mel Brook’s is a Jew. So there’s that. Were that somehow not enough, Brooks has been explicit regarding his feelings toward Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. Spoiler alert: he’s against them.
This protest points to a larger crisis of intellect in modern society. We’re losing the capacity to combat bad ideas with humor and mockery. Apparently, you can’t make fun of a thing without being accused of endorsing it. Amy Schumer’s a racist because she makes fun of racism. Mel Brooks is a Nazi because he mocked Nazism. God forbid this Imm see Blazing Saddles.