Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears

It would be funny were it not so tragic.  I have tried to stop short of calling Trump supporters stupid.  I have referred to them as lemmings and other terms, but have never outright called them stupid.  Today, I must re-think that and admit what has been obvious for some time now:  Trump supporters fall far short of being the brightest bulbs in the pack.  What, you may ask, has Filosofa stirred up today?

Shakespeare.  Specifically, one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Julius Caesar.  This play has been politicized numerous times in the past:

On the eve of World War II, Orson Welles staged a landmark anti-Fascist production with a Mussolini-like Caesar. The Royal Shakespeare Company recently set the play in Africa, powerfully evoking the continent’s dictators and civil wars. Five years ago, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis staged a production featuring the assassination of an Obama-esque Caesar by a group of right-wing conspirators. Even John F. Kennedy was once depicted as Caesar! But never before has it stirred quite so much controversy as it did this week, when a production in New York’s Central Park became the flashpoint for threats of violence around the nation.

caesar-2Oskar Eustis, the director, chose to make his Caesar decidedly Trumpian, giving him a shock of hair, an overlong red tie and a wife with a recognizably Slovenian accent. As all Caesars are, he’s killed in the middle of the play — bloodily — by Brutus and his band of co-conspirators.  And the fallout from right-wing dim-bulbs has been ridiculous!

Delta Airlines and Bank of America have pulled their sponsorship from the Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park program. But the most troubling aspect is that New York Classical Theatre, which performs in Central Park, has received a host of threatening messages, as have theaters around the country where Julius Caesar is being performed.  Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington, D.C., has received about a dozen caustic e-mails and numerous tweets accusing the company of inciting violence and linking it to this week’s shooting at a congressional baseball practice..

Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts received roughly 40 venomous messages, including one that wished the theater “the worst possible life you could have and hope you all get sick and die.” At Shakespeare Dallas, executive and artistic director Raphael Parry says his company has received about 80 messages, including threats of rape, death, and wishes that the theater’s staff is “sent to ISIS to be killed with real knives.”

One protestor, Laura Loomer, was charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct after interrupting a New York production of Julius Caesar during the assassination scene and shouting: “This is violence against Donald Trump. This is political violence against the right!”  Audience members booed and shouted for her to get off the stage.  I suspect that this was not a random act, but was planned, since the incident was filmed by Jack Posobiec, a rightwing provocateur best known for helping to spread the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. He stood up as Loomer was escorted off stage by security guards and yelled at the crowd: “You are all Goebbels. You are all Nazis like Joseph Goebbels … You are inciting terrorists. The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands.”

caesar-3A Public Theater spokeswoman said: “Our production of Julius Caesar in no way advocates violence towards anyone. Shakespeare’s play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save.”

Of course the dim-bulbs need someone to tell them when to be outraged, and the majority do not live in New York City, probably have only the vaguest notion who Shakespeare was and even less about who Julius Caesar was.  Enter Fox News and Breitbart who can always be counted on to stir the masses and they did not disappoint this time, either.  True to form, Breitbart led the pack with an article titled “‘Trump’ Stabbed to Death in Central Park Performance of ‘Julius Caesar’”, and Fox News fed the flames, tweeting “NYC Play Appears to Depict Assassination of @POTUS.”

Now, it has been said that if the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak, liberals would have the same reaction. But … in 2012 the shoe was on the other foot.  The Acting Company teamed up with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis to produce a version of Julius Caesar in which the title character was very similar to then-President Obama.  No corporate sponsors pulled out or even made a comment.  No hate mail was sent.  And the New York Times gave it a positive review, calling it a “tough act to follow”.

Two points need to be made.  First, those who have a bit of knowledge of Shakespeare and the play Julius Caesar understand that the entire message of the play is NOT to promote assassination, but rather to warn against it.  Those who have no knowledge of the premise of the play ought to educate themselves before going off the deep end and sending hate mail regarding that which the do not understand. Second, this is a play.  It is art.  Art is always subject to interpretation.  If we allow people, fueled by right-wing media, to ban interpretations of plays, to shut them down through threats of violence, then what is the next step?  Book burnings?  Censorship of the press?  Arrests of peaceful protesters?  Think about it.

43 thoughts on “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears

  1. Does anyone know if these are real comments from Trump supporters:

    “I voted for Donald Trump because I thought I was unique.”
    “I voted for Donald Trump because he is not a pussy and I like explosions.”
    “George W. Bush was a just dummy run for Trump.”
    “Donald Trump talks cents.”
    “I voted for Trump and that is Donald Trump because I know Jesus hates gays and I want a wall billed to keep out Syrians climbing over and raping my cows and if Trump is Pope he can do that and yes he will do it and did and his hair must have its own show as the Muppets and a Christian beliefs and that Muslims can go back into Mordor if in the the Bible it is written which not evolution did if Jesus made dinosaurs and finally Hallellular Hallylooler Halleyleyar said the Lord and Trump will bomb them until for peace to us all A men.”

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  2. The nice guy hat comes off. The socialist hat comes on.
    Firstly the current occupiers of the Whitehouse are brought to account for their illegalities and traitorous activities.
    Secondly anyone sending hate messages is to be tracked down and prosecuted under terrorist legislation, mandatory ten years prison to be re-educated.
    Thirdly media campaign of character assassination of the current occupant of the Whitehouse and his entourage. They want war. I can bring them war.
    It’s only what Vladimir Putin and his predecessors would do. (Neat isn’t it? Get the jerks to face up to the reality of how Russia handles things- not judging Russia- what you see if what you get. We in Europe ‘get’ that)
    It’s the sort of thing we did in WWII to root out traitors and dangers to our nation.
    No problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • More and more I find myself wearing that socialist hat. Many in the republican party claim to want fewer regulations, fewer laws … and yet they prove on a daily basis that if anything, they need MORE laws, for they know not how to live in a society. Far too many seem to have no filters for their mouths, and they have taken the 2nd amendment to mean that they can shoot and kill people with whom they disagree, or who they do not like. So yeah … let’s implement your idea! Step #1 first … I cannot wait to see DDT in an orange jumpsuit!
      And I would agree … you Europeans do have a better understanding of where this behaviour can lead, likely because you have experienced it first-hand. In the U.S., people have only read about WWII, Hitler and the Nazis … and most of them either didn’t understand it or have forgotten it. Sigh.

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  3. Dear Jill,
    I must be having a really bad senior day today. I tried to reblog this post but I accidentally reblogged the wrong piece. So, I cheated the system and did a work-around. Thanks for this great write-up/ perspective and for letting me reblog your work.
    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Jill,
    This is when the rhetoric on both sides of the aisle have gone too far. Of course, it would have been helpful if if those complaining had actually ever read the play.
    I will be writing both Delta and Bank of America about their cowardly stances.
    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I can always respect a person’s opinion, whether I agree or not, if they know of what they speak. But when people start spouting about things of which they have NO knowledge, I have no respect and consider them fools. By that definition, there are a lot of fools these days! Thanks again for the re-blog!!!

      Hugs!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • At the rate the Russian investigation keeps getting de-railed, it may NEVER conclude. The latest is that Rosenstein will likely either be fired or recuse himself, and the prez is still considering having Mueller fired. Where that leaves the investigation, I do not know! But to your comment … yes, perhaps. You know there will be battle royale if there is ever enough evidence that Congress has no choice other than to begin impeachment proceedings.

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  5. Those who call the people connected with the play Nazis should look in a mirror. They probably don’t know much history or they’d know who burned books and were against freedom of speech in the past. Their favorite quote may very well be, “We don’t need no education”. Some of them aren’t ignorant, they have an agenda. The ignorant are their pawns. 😦 — Suzanne

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    • Book burning… Well if that is next, the world will be entering another dark age where enlightened knowledge is crushed under the foot of authoritarian powermongers…and yes, agree, the ‘ignorant’ are their canon fodder. History keeps repeating itself….😢

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      • Yes it does, and apparently we have not learned from the lessons of history. Already I see us moving backward to a period where enlightened knowledge is de-valued and authoritarianism is applauded. Sigh … did we learn nothing from Hitler and Mussolini??? 😥

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    • Yes, that is exactly the problem … they are un-educated in the very things about which they attempt to speak. In another day, they would have been discounted as fools for speaking without knowledge, but now … they are tolerated and even applauded, it would seem. Makes one want to stomp their feet and scream … but instead I pound the keyboard and try to maintain some bit of decorum and professionalism … hard to do some days. 🙂

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  6. So the mere implication that the production was a) about Trump and b) assumed to mean that Trump should die was enough to set off this shyte-storm? What of the amendment that guarantees freedom of /speech/? Free for some but not even a hint for others?

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    • Yes, you understand perfectly! Actually, it was a convenient excuse, and the ringleaders know well how to rile the masses. Anybody who criticizes Trump is said to be responsible for the shooting of a congressman earlier this week. Never mind that it was a lone gunman with a history of troubles … sigh. People do not always use their brains, y’know?

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      • Sadly, yes. Here there’s ‘talk’ of placing so-called extremists under curfew to try to stop them from carrying out acts of terror. Nice sentiment but in practical terms it’s fluff. Even assuming they can work out who the extremists /are/, it assumes that all evil plotting will take place at night. -rolls eyes-
        As the terrible fire in London proves, garden variety greed kills more people than any act of terror. But kneejerk reactions are the order of the day. 😦

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        • That curfew on extremists makes as much sense as the governor who thought prayer groups walking the streets was the solution to gun violence!!! What dolts there are in governments … not just here or in Oz, but ’round the world it would seem.

          And yes, it is more dramatic to point the finger at a group of Muslims, African-Americans or Hispanics than to admit that more people die at the hands of rich corporations who cannot be bothered with the mundane details of preserving human life. Or the so-called white Christians who murder because they thing they are superior. Sigh. This world is not one I recognize … I am still waiting to awaken one morning and find that this was all a bad dream.

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          • -nods- The only thing I can’t work out is whether things were always like this, just hidden under some sort of societal rug, or the world truly has gone mad the last few years?
            If you do wake up, please give me a nudge as well. 😦

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, I ask the same question. Many have said, and I suspect they are right, that this attitude has always existed, but lain dormant until the populist movement with its dramatic nationalist figures such as LePen, Wilders, Trump and others gave the idea that it is okay to shed the social norms, to shed the ‘political correctness’ and to openly hate Muslims, Latinos, gays, Jews, blacks … basically anybody who is different in any way. I am pleased that, for the most part (excluding the Brexit vote), Europe is rejecting these populist ideas in lieu of more traditional leaders like Macron. I think perhaps they look at what a shambles the U.S. has become in 5 short months and say, “No Way!” This gives me hope that there is still some common sense and humanity left in the world and that eventually we can begin to return to a kinder world. But … I cannot guarantee it. And yes, if I do awaken to find it was a bad dream, I will surely give you a nudge! 🙂

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  7. A great post, Jill. Trump supporters, for instance, certainly do seem intellectually challenged. And yet, most of them hold down jobs, raise children, and can tie their shoes. I have pondered and pondered…

    Far-right conservatives are more likely to dismiss academic pursuits that don’t lead to making money. Medicine (except for psychology), business, technology, and trade schools – all good. The arts and humanities – not so good – except for music, which is a ministry unto the Lord, after the fashion of David.

    Then there are the ones with no aptitude or opportunity for academics, and they may over-compensate with toxic masculinity and whatever the feminine counterpart is (bimbos?) Being smart or cultured is a no-no. Continual boasting about their down-home brand of smarts and class is acceptable, however, and supports the tendency for loud oration of opinions.

    Still, the very stupidest ones may well be killing themselves off (accidentally, not suicide), earning their Darwin Awards fairly and squarely. Otherwise, think how much worse the country could be…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, JoAnn!!! I had to laugh when you said they can ‘tie their shoes’! 😀 And yes, I have pondered and pondered as well, have read all the reasons the analysts put forth, but for the life of me I still cannot understand it! Some of my ‘former’ friends who were/are staunch Trump supporters were mad at me …. yes, actually mad at me … for being college-educated! They told me that was my problem, that I was an over-educated fool. Sigh. Who knew? If you ever figure the solution to this puzzle, let me know! Meanwhile, I shall just keep scratching my head and wondering … WHY? 🙂

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