Last night I watched our Middle School’s performance of “The Sound of Music.” And today, as I think back on that truly amazing performance (and as I struggle to get the “Lonely Goatherd” song out of my head) I am stuck by a couple things:
First and foremost, this performance made me feel proud. I am SO PROUD of our little community. I am proud of our neighborhood school. I am proud of the diversity and talent of these kids. I am proud that my kids are part of a school that still values the arts as an important part of education and learning and figuring out what it means to be human. I am proud to see a rainbow of colors represented in the actors on that stage, and of a multi-racial von Trapp family. I am proud of all the adults who gave so much of their time to help create something truly inspiring and beautiful. I am just proud of the good thing that was created, and the good people who worked to make it happen. Proud, proud, proud… I teared up TALKING about it today. It was genuinely beautiful, and it conveyed the heart of the story to me better than the movie. Honestly.
And the second thing I’ve been thinking about since last night’s performance is this: I genuinely can’t understand how so many in this nation have regressed to a place where they can’t understand something as simple and self-evident and “Nazis are bad.” I mean, how hard is THAT to get? Nazis are so bad that during the standing ovation, I even found it difficult to even clap for the kids who had ROLES as nazis. Nazis are the bad guys in EVERY story there is, and the hateful, fearful, bigoted, white supremacist ideology behind the nazis is objectively and RIGHTFULLY characterized as what it is: Evil. And yet we have a growing number of people — ALL OF THEM SUPPORTERS OF THE CURRENT PRESIDENT — who are embracing this evil. This picture (taken by Spencer Platt for Getty Images) is from a Neo-Nazi rally outside of Atlanta, about four hours from where I live… All while police brutalize COUNTER-protestors.
There is this adage called “Godwin’s Law,” that goes something like this: “As online discussions grow longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1.” It’s meant to caution people away from making frivolous comparisons to Hitler and the nazis when discussing and debating things. I get that Hitler did horrible things, and no one in this current GOP administration is advocating for gassing and mass murdering whole ethnicities. No one seems to be planning any giant acts of genocide… But as I watched a bunch of wildly talented middle schoolers dance and sing on stage last night during “The Sound of Music,” I couldn’t help ask myself these two very strange questions:
How in the WORLD did we get to a place where “Nazis are bad” feels like a political statement? And how, dear God, did we get to a place where a play saying “Nazis are bad” feels like a political statement AGAINST the President of the United States?
So it’s a weird feeling, this one I’m having today — To watch a performance, and to be at the same time inspired by and proud of our local community… While also feeling the shame so many of us carry at being reminded of the continued support (almost all of it coming from white people calling themselves “christians”) of such an objectively immoral, bigoted, and corrupt president. This past week, a substitute teacher (in that same middle school) invoked the name of that objectively immoral, bigoted, and corrupt man to a 6th grade classroom. They were diverse and energetic and probably a bit disrespectful, but this woman (before leaving the classroom and quitting her sub assignment early) swore at the kids, told them they made her want to “spend her summer volunteering to work on the wall,” and made a comment about “the good old days when there was slavery,” and, of course, brought up Trump. Which makes sense, because he is TOTALLY racist…
Just IMAGINE all that 45 would have to say on Twitter if the shooter had had a Muslim-sounding name. And he knows that this is a criticism of him… But he is silent. He doesn’t even care enough to throw out a half-hearted tweet to appease the critics. And listen — It SAYS SOMETHING that if a person speaks of “the good old days when there was slavery,” you can know FOR SURE who that person voted for.
And all of this backdropped by some right wing nut job killing four people of color with an AR-15 in a Waffle House. This happened in my town. Antioch is where I live. When I started writing this, he wasn’t caught (he is now. And — Surprise, surprise! — they managed to bring him in alive! In fact, the police were more rough with a black woman who wanted plastic utensils at a Waffle House than they were arresting the white man who murdered four people of color), so all after school activities were cancelled because some highly armed murderer calling himself a “Sovereign Citizen” was still at large.
But seriously — What kind of a person watches “The Sound Of Music” and roots for the nazis? What kind of person sees a diverse cast or a diverse classroom, and chants and votes to “Build that wall?” What kind of person sees diversity as a problem instead of a strength?
Anyway, I am both encouraged and disheartened. I am both proud and ashamed. I am proud of the ideals this diverse country stands for, but I am ashamed that there are so many whose privilege feels so threatened by that diversity that they are willing to vote for a pile of awfulness. I love that this is a nation of immigrants, and I’m so sad for the way that immigrants are being demonized… Especially by people who claim to follow a man who, when asked how to love, told a story about caring for an outsider (that’d be Jesus… Not Trump). I want to tell everybody about our sweet, diverse neighborhood, and I want to apologize for the recent turns America has taken when I meet people from other countries. I am hopeful for what this country can be, and I am afraid of what this country has become. All of this from a Middle School play… Welcome to my brain.
If you value this blog and you’d like to help support it, you can BECOME A PATRON. If you’d like to boost a post or leave a one time tip, you can DO THAT ON PAYPAL. And if you’d like to keep up with me ON TWITTER or ON FACEBOOK, that would be just fine too. Oh yeah… And support the arts! It’s not an accident that when authoritarian regimes take power, they defund and attack the arts. The arts remind us what goodness is… And hallelujah for that.