Caryl Churchill’s Nasty Racist Play, Seven Jewish Children and Liberals.
Over time historians have pointed out that the middle classes are more susceptible to the pull of anti-Jewish racism than others, but I would never like to make a sweeping generalisation about all of the middle classes.
Nor would I even write a play, Seven Middle Class bigots, however, it is worthwhile remembering that, when confronted with the apologists for Caryl Churchill’s Nasty Racist Play, Seven Jewish Children.
I suppose I could explain, in detail, why the play is racist, how the title gives it away or that the deliberate negative portrayal of an ethnic minority is normally prima facia evidence of racism or bias.
If I wanted to go deeper I could probably explain how the negative notion of the “Chosen People” is a common thread through anti-Jewish racism and the neo-Nazi discourse.
I could do all of that, but the supporters of this play appear to be immune to reason and the play chimes with their own prejudices which means it is very hard to reach them
So instead I’ll post a sharp sarcastic clip of a comment from HP and ask Caryl Churchill’s defenders to ponder its message:
” Here’s the thing. I could write a play about how little black boys are bred by their mothers (not their fathers because all black men leave when their women get pregnant dont’ya know) to believe that they can go ahead and rape pretty white women because they really want it and stab well-bred teenage white boys because they disrespect black boys with hoodies.
Personally I wouldn’t write such garbage because I am not a simplistic, smug, nasty little racist like Caryl Churchill.
But….some people’s interpretation of this play would be that there is much truth in it and that it is not offensive.
Would the Guardian screen this (very topical) play. No of course it wouldn’t. It wouldn’t want to incur the wrath of the UKs black population and it wouldn’t want to look like a paper that was uncool, unhip and frankly racist.
But…to be anti-semitic at the mo, is not uncool. The average Guardianista likes Ahmedinajad more than the average Iranian, Hizbollah more than the Lebanese……….and dislikes and goads jews because he/she can.
Shorter version, if you wouldn’t accept a nasty racist play about Blacks full of odorous stereotypes, then why is it acceptable to do the same where Jews are concerned?
If you wouldn’t do the former but have no problem with the latter then you are probably closer to the BNP’s way of thinking than you’d like to admit. A point to think about.
Update: One of the automatically generated links points to Bret Stephens piece in the WSJ, and bits of it are rather good:
“Ms. Churchill’s short play unfolds over seven scenes, beginning, dimly, sometime during the Holocaust and concluding, sharply, with Israel’s war with Hamas. Characters appear as parents or older relatives of an offstage child, and the dialogue revolves around what the girl should or should not know about her political circumstances as they unfold over the decades.
So, for the first scene we have the line, “Don’t tell her they’ll kill her” — the “they” presumably referring to Nazis. Yet by the final scene the tables have turned. Now it’s the Jews who behave like Nazis: “Tell her,” says one of the play’s Zionist elders, “I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out . . . tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? Tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.” (My emphases.)
Just what is this supposed to mean? Michael Billington of the Guardian grasped Ms. Churchill’s point when he wrote that the play captured “the transition that has overtaken Israel, to the point where security has become the pretext for indiscriminate slaughter.” Ms. Churchill herself has written that she “wanted [the play] in some small way to reflect the shock and enormity of what happened in Gaza. I think it does that relatively mildly.” (My emphasis again.)
All this makes perfect sense — provided you’re willing to reduce the Arab-Israeli conflict to caricature, magnify it to the exclusion of all others, assign blame (and moral agency) wholly to one side, and suppose that Israelis use the memory of the Holocaust cynically or neurotically as an alibi for gratuitous and wanton bloodletting.
In other words, if you’re prepared to manipulate history as dishonestly as our vile little “play” about black America does, then it’s easy to draw a damning moral. And if you’re clever enough to cast the indictment as a story about some blacks or some Jews, or as one of generational decadence, then you might also acquit yourself of charges of racism or anti-Semitism, since you can point to a few Jews or blacks worthy of your considered respect.”
Update 2: Perhaps I should have pointed it out sooner, but HP has had many discussions on this racist play, a recent one is here. More can be found using HP’s search facility.