Weekend news included decisions by Delta Air Lines and Bank of America to withdraw sponsorship of the New York Public Theater’s production of “Julius Caesar.”
Reason: It is set in modern times and depicts assassination of a Trump-like ruler. Bad taste, declared the corporate sponsors after a torrent of criticism on Fox News and conservative outlets. The deeper significance of Shakespeare’s work — a statement against assassination — was overlooked.
“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of ‘Julius Caesar’ at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” the company said in a statement on Sunday night.
Then came Bank of America.
Bank of America followed hours later, saying it would withdraw financial support from the production of “Julius Caesar” but would not end its financial relationship with the theater, which a spokeswoman, Susan Atran, said had lasted for 11 years.
“The Public Theater chose to present ‘Julius Caesar’ in a way that was intended to provoke and offend,” Ms. Atran said. “Had this intention been made known to us, we would have decided not to sponsor it. We are withdrawing our funding for this production.”
Other corporate sponsors are under fire, including the New York Times, which said it remained firm in its commitment. For the defense:
in a note published online, Oskar Eustis, who is the director of the play and the artistic director of the Public, makes clear that the play does not endorse the assassination of Julius Caesar or any other political leader in a democracy. “Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means,” Mr. Eustis wrote. “To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him.”
Oh, and one note for the alt-righters who claim libs would feel the same way about a play alluding to a Democratic leader in the assassination plot: Been done. During the Obama years. Here, for one. I don’t recall MSNBC raising a ruckus about it.
Caesar has lived down through the years in high school classrooms thanks to the themes available for students to discuss. Add political correctness and victimhood (snowflakes, if you will) to this year’s discussion.
UPDATE: Nice touch. Twitter says Delta sponsored a 2012 show in which Julius Caesar was depicted as Obama.