It’s been reported the alleged shooter at a Republican baseball practice at a field in Virginia asked members of Congress and staff whether Republicans or Democrats were on the field.  A few minutes after he was told it was Republicans, a man opened fire with a long gun, wounding five including Congressman Steve Scalise, the aide to another congressman and Capitol police.  At a morning press conference, the FBI offered the obligatory platitudes.  “Not an assassination.”  “Too early to tell if they were targeted.”  Come on.  Really?

Monday night, the director of a Shakespeare in the Park play, “Julius Caesar,” gave a similar “nothing to see here” speech before the show opened.  Oskar Eustis directs a play where the doomed emperor and his wife are depicted as Donald and Ivanka Trump lookalikes. The Caesar character meets his bloody demise wearing a Trumpesque suit and tie.  Nothing coy or abstract about this, despite the director’s protestations.  Eustis is putting on an assassination porn show with the President as a target.

Eustis also expressed tired old “we’re all culpable” talk before the show.  He further deflected criticism by saying he was depicting the right and not Trump specifically.

“The Public’s mission is to say that the culture belongs to everybody, needs to belong to everybody,” Eustis said. “To say that art has something to say about the great civic issues of our time, and to say that like drama, democracy depends on the conflict of different points of view. Nobody owns the truth—we all own the culture.”

Here is the speech:

 

Thirty six hours later the Republican majority whip was crawling on his belly from second base toward the outfield with a bullet in his hip. Four others were shot, some injured more seriously than Steve Scalise. Dozens of shots later, a good guy with a gun, a Capitol police officer, took down a bad guy with the gun.

Corporate sponsors of “Julius Caesar” are peeling off, slowly but deliberately.  Delta Airlines and Bank of America showed decency and corporate responsibility in exiting support of Eustis’ assassination porn.  Others, such as Time Warner, parent company of CNN, haven’t budged and the production still gets government funding via the National Endowment of the Arts, though the NEA managed a half-assed disavowal.

“The National Endowment for the Arts makes grants to nonprofit organizations for specific projects. In the past, the New York Shakespeare Festival has received project-based NEA grants to support performances of Shakespeare in the Park by the Public Theater. However, no NEA funds have been awarded to support this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar and there are no NEA funds supporting the New York State Council on the Arts’ grant to Public Theater or its performances.”

It’s time for decent people to say no to Oskar Eustis and stop taking cover behind free speech for art that glorifies violence against specific elected officials.  Museums and schools go on lockdown over empty nooses, or bananas in nooses, or nooses drawn on chalk on sidewalks.  Zero tolerance in these situations is ridiculous, but the shooter seems to have taken his cues from specific cultural and media messages we’re all awash in.

 

It’s been reported the suspect is a Bernie bro. So was the Portland stabber.  Both appear to wrap themselves in patriotism as part of their violent nature.  That’s a rap Tumpists have, but it’s just not so.  This is not “everbody’s culture,” Oskar Eustis.  We don’t “all own it.”  You own it, and the reprobates who line your pockets to produce it own it.

Take out the trash, NEA, Time Warner, CNN. Let assassination pornographers like Oskar Eustis ply his obscene trade without the tacit editorial approval of your funding.  You do own it.  Get rid of it.