Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I went with my daughter today to see a play called Witness put on by First Stage Children's Theater of Milwaukee. It was a fairly standard politically correct production about the Ku Klux clan's effect on a Vermont town in 1924. It's message against hatred was good; it rightly identified prejudice as often being a mask for fear. But I just didn't enjoy the show. Perhaps it was because it wasn't particularly well written, or that the preacher and his congregation were stereotyped (ironically enough) as being hateful and/or ignorant. I guess I'm just tired of being beaten over the head with the constant, wearisome preaching of tolerance as if it were the highest virtue. The winning student essays in the lobby promoting the acceptance of homosexuality were proof that isn't true.

What really got me, though, was when they invited the playwright himself up on stage for the talkback afterwards. One of the adults asked him if he thought America was the same today as it was back then. Amazingly, the guy stated without hesitation or qualification that our country is still exactly the same. Good grief. While there's obviously still pockets of racism around, it's so thoroughly repudiated and looked down upon and our sensitivity to it is so high that even things that aren't racist are condemned for just appearing to be so. (Remember the story about the guy who felt compelled to resign for using the word "niggardly?")

The playwright also stated that he believed such things as those portrayed in the play could happen again. With that I agree. I just wonder if the playwright has stopped to consider that the roots of such intolerance and prejudice thrive in the liberal and artistic institutions he would extol, which mock and impugn the church and those who hold to traditional standards of morality. If tyrannical intolerance reasserts itself to a Klan-like extent again in this country, I believe it's going to be people of his worldview who will come to be the perpetrators, enforcing penalties on those who don't conform to their liberal orthodoxy.

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