June 30, 2017

IN CHICAGO, THOUGHT-POLICE BRUTALITY; Chicago Theater Critic Shunned for Racial Honesty:

In Chicago, where there were more homicides last year than in Los Angeles and New York City combined, expressing any support whatsoever for the police is now considered an outrage. Should you point out that, say, a play seems to suggest cops are evil crackers, you may find yourself denounced as a racist and targeted for abuse and ostracization.

A theater writer has just found that out. In what the website American Theatre dubbed “the review that shook Chicago,” adding in a subhead that “Local theatre artists rise in revolt,” veteran theater critic Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times criticized a new play called Pass Over, which I haven’t seen but is being described as a kind of update of Waiting for Godot filtered through the sensibility of Black Lives Matter. The play, by Antoinette Nwandu, was mounted by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, perhaps the most celebrated outfit of its kind outside of New York City. Weiss found its racial politics to be a bit reductionist, and offered these thoughts in her review:

No one can argue with the fact that this city (and many others throughout the country) has a problem with the use of deadly police force against African-Americans. But, for all the many and varied causes we know so well, much of the lion’s share of the violence is perpetrated within the community itself. Nwandu’s simplistic, wholly generic characterization of a racist white cop (clearly meant to indict all white cops) is wrong-headed and self-defeating. Just look at news reports about recent shootings (on the lakefront, on the new River Walk, in Woodlawn) and you will see the look of relief when the police arrive on the scene.

Cue unbridled rage. Steppenwolf charged her with “deep-seated bigotry.” An actor named Bear Bellinger announced that he would not perform if Weiss showed up at a workshop production he was appearing in. An ad-hoc coalition that might as well have dubbed itself the Blackball Hedy Movement (but is actually called the Chicago Theater Accountability Coalition, or CTAC) launched a petition via change.org to organize the theater world of Chicago against Weiss by denying her invitations to its plays. Several theater organizations have publicly agreed to join the blackballing effort, and dozens have offered noncommittal statements of support. The group’s broadside against Weiss reads, “Over the last few years especially, we have joined together to make it clear that inappropriate language or behavior does not have a place within our community, and that prejudice of any kind will not stand.”

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It was less than two years ago that Steppenwolf mounted a stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. Do these people not recognize their kinship with the thought police? Do they not see that “Shut up” is not an argument?

Other than violence, what other arguments do the left have these days?

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