Sunday, January 13, 2008


From the Archives

(May 2006) The ultra-conservative anti-immigrant vigilante group the Minutemen will be in Greensboro NC tomorrow and progressive organizations are calling for folks across the south to show up and tell the thugs that they are not welcome there.

Unfortunately, I will be in a tedious training session for our new and decidedly inadequate health insurance during this event.

As near as I can tell, this new PPO pays for my mammogram but, should it be suspicious and my doctor proactive enough to order an immediate ultrasound, then this diagnostic procedure will not be covered (because we “elected” to change the definition of my Routine Appointment by introducing a Diagnostic Procedure).

Put another way: BCBS is willing to penalize me and decrease my odds of surviving cancer in order to ensure that their organizational schemas are kept under separate nutshells.

Gawd. No wonder my doctor friends are leaving the field in droves!

This is one of those weeks in which I have something scheduled every evening through Sunday (which is why I am doing laundry at 11:30 PM).

Tonight, I attended a reading of the disturbing play My Name Is Rachel Corrie. My favorite local experimental theater company hosted this reading and asked invitees to help them decide whether or not to disrupt their fall schedule in order to produce it this year.

Rachel Corrie is the 23-year-old American peace activist who was crushed by a bulldozer while acting as a human shield for Palestinian homes in Gaza and this play was created from her journals and e-mails.

So why the mad rush to production?

Well, after 2 sellout runs in London, the NY Theatre Workshop was SUPPOSED to begin a run of the play next month, but they suddenly cancelled production, citing a need to “mollify” the pro-Israeli community.

Katharine Viner, co-editor of the play, says
if a young, middle-class, scrupulously fair-minded and dead American woman, whose superb writing about her job as a mental health worker, ex-boyfriends, troublesome parents, struggles to find out who she wanted to be, and how she found that by traveling to Gaza and discovering the shocking conditions under which the Palestinians live—if a voice like this cannot be heard on a New York stage, what hope is there for anyone else?

Besides the obvious censorship implications, this cancellation is of particular concern because the producer says he is not concerned about people who see the show, but is instead concerned about the people who don’t see the show but declare it viciously anti-Israeli anyway.

Viner again:

Since when did theatre come to be about those who don’t go to see it? If the play itself . . . is not the problem, then isn’t the answer to get people to watch it, rather than exercising prior censorship?


Rachel's words condemn violence and express outrage about attacks by the fourth largest army in the world on people whose livelihoods and food and water and shelter have been taken away from them.

That’s powerful stuff and well worth presenting to the world, despite the censors’ threats.

This is the second play I’ve seen this week that asks how clean our tax-paying hands are.

The off-off-Broadway Guardians, staring Katherine Moennig (the actor who plays Shane on The L Word), was poorly attended and may have already closed, but I am so glad I saw it.

Moennig portrays Lynddie England as a somewhat sympathetic grunt who understands the implications of ignoring a direct military order far more than she understands the implications of her (abhorrent) actions.

Then there’s the vacuous Guardian reporter following her in search of a bigger office.

At first I was concerned that the playwright planned to make a series of easy jokes about uneducated southern hicks who grew up in violent landscapes and so spread their violence around the globe, but the play was better than that.

In fact, the Oxford-trained reporter comes off as the true empty shell in the end—as an opportunist who cares about the atrocities committed at abu Ghraib only insofar as they can further his career or heighten his experience of violence as an erotic sport.

A (gorgeous) lawyer representing Gitmo prisoners spoke after the play and reminded us of yet another of Bush&Co’s many communications ploys: They basically changed the way they refer to prisons in order to avoid Geneva requirements for how prisoners of war must be treated in prisons.

She also reminded us that, while armed services scandals are typically punished by moving up the chain of command to the ultimate authority who authorized the crime, in the case of abu Ghraib, a handful of women who all say they were following orders they were left no choice but to obey have taken the fall while their superior officers remain in command.

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