So much for freedom of speech, let alone thought.
The play My Name Is Rachel Corrie, directed in London by actor Alan Rickman anddue to open in New York City in March, has been canceled for fear ofcontroversy.
The play adapts the diaries of the 23-year-old woman from Seattle who wasmurdered inRafah in 2003, when she was deliberately run down by anIsraeli Defense Forces bulldozer. Rachel had traveled to the Gaza Strip during the last intifada as an activist for the International Solidarity Movement.
My Name Is Rachel Corrie has enjoyed two sell-out runs in London at the Royal Court Theatre and greatcritical acclaim; it was due to open at the New York Theatre Workshop inthe East Village.
In private conversations with those who staged the play in London, theTheatre Workshop cited the election of Hamas in Palestine, ArielSharon's medical condition and the furor over the Danish cartoons asreasons for refusing to stage the play.
"The decision is incredibly frustrating," said one of the peopleclosely associated with the play. "It underestimates the intelligenceand compassion of the American people."
During a period of such intense reflection about freedom of speech andthe so-called "clash of civilizations," the play's cancellation is auseful reminder of the forces at work in constructing and limitingAmerica's freedom to access the views and experiences even of otherAmericans.
How is the American public supposed to develop a civilizedunderstanding of what their government is bankrolling in Israel andPalestine when plays like this cannot be shown?