Seeing Shakespeare in the park sounds like it could be a fun outing, one where families could sit on blankets and watch actors recite the works of one of history’s greatest writers.
Or, it could be watching an imitation of President Trump getting brutally assassinated. Sadly, The Public Theater in New York City decided to go with the latter, depicting Julius Caesar in a manner that unmistakably likens him to President Trump. As we all know, the play does not end well for Caesar.
While the play opened last night, people began to notice the similarities even in the preview period, how could they not have? Donald Trump Jr. brought attention to it, as I’m sure seeing a depiction of his father being murdered twice in one month has struck a chord with him. The well-deserved outrage at this clear political theater led Delta Airlines and the Bank of America to withdraw their sponsorships. Delta Airlines stated that “no matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of Julius Caesar at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values.”
While this artistic interpretation certainly has some value and doesn’t depict Trump as a complete villain, the political implications and message cannot be ignored. This incident is a softer example in a string of “artistic” endeavors that have depicted physical harm towards the sitting President, often far more brutal than in this play. The Kathy Griffin saga of the past several weeks depicted an ISIS style beheading of the President, and a Snoop Dogg video in March depicted the rapper pointing a gun at a Trump-like clown. These increasingly mainstream incidents show a disturbing trend of a normalization of hate.
While many on the left claim to speak out against the normalization of hate and that “Love Trumps Hate”, recent incidents by prominent leftists speak to the contrary. How could one forgot when washed-up pop-star Madonna screamed that she wanted to blow up the White House at the January 21st Women’s March? Hating on Trump, and even threatening him, is the latest left-wing celebrity fad, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Even with sponsors dropping these haters like flies, I anticipate that these depictions will continue, and could lead to dangerous results.
Many on the left would counter this notion with threats against President Obama during his tenure as President, such as depictions of him being lynched. These incidents did happen and we cannot ignore them, to do so would be morally and intellectually dishonest. With this in mind, even most children know that two wrongs do not make a right.
No one should depict bodily harm to another individual, particularly someone as vulnerable to attacks as a President of the United States. Depictions such as these must be shunned and called out, no matter who the target is. A key difference in the two cases are the perpetrators of these threats. The depictions of President Obama being lynched were largely carried out by nobody whackadoos who were shunned from mainstream politics. Donald Trump is being assaulted by prominent people in media and pop culture showing their audiences that their behavior is acceptable. Many have accepted these new violent cultural norms.
Thankfully, most Americans, across the political spectrum, have rejected these brutal depictions. Hate should not be normalized.