Time Magazine’s June 3/10 issue (P.24) had an interview with Jeff Daniels who portrays Atticus Finch in the new Broadway version of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which recently won a Tony award for best featured actress. The show set a record at $1.77 million the first week of May at the Shubert Theater, “the Carnegie Hall of Broadway.” So what’s the draw? Why, as Daniels puts it, are prominent people coming back stage after the curtain falls with tears in their eyes, crying in the rest room for 15 minutes?
His answer: “Remind us what’s right again? What is ethical? Remind us what is honest, remind us what decency looks like, remind us what compassion looks like.” “Apparently we need reminding.” In other words, the new adaptation of one of the best pieces of American literature is set against the backdrop of the last two years of American political life, where what is right, what is ethical, what is honest and what is decent have evaporated in the fetid smoke of Fox Fake News and the aberration of a president it has produced. Whoever heard of 35 people indicted for crimes, six going to jail, and a constant churning of people working in the White House? I remember every president back to Harry Truman and don’t ever recall such a putrid atmosphere in Washington.
Small wonder that we are now the laughing stock of the civilized world, with our narcissistic leader floating above protesting British crowds as a doughnut boy blimp during a “state visit.”
Will it ever stop? If someone can figure out how to take Fox Fake News off the air, perhaps that air might start to clear. When billionaires like Rupert Murdoch own thousands of “news” outlets, the old saying about “absolute power corrupts absolutely” comes true, and the world starts to stink. “Ask me if I care” said the First Lady’s shirt during her border visit. Good question for all of us.
Phil Stephan lives in Clarendon.