Interpreting Caesar in Sensitive Times

Since the election of Mr. Trump to the Presidency, his first roughly 6 months in office has been interesting, to say the least. Some would use the terms polarizing, divisive, horrifying, scandal ridden, “noob”, “boob”, among others as terms to describe to what we’ve seen so far.

It’s a significant period of change that is happening for sure, where things in the US will end up from a political and moral sense in many ways, no one knows. Now, with the current administration in office providing enough ammunition, people have been taking shots at government – first, figuratively, in art and comedy, and now literally with the shooting of the House Majority Whip this week at the practice for the annual baseball game.

Now, I don’t condone violence by any means, especially stuff that is politically motivated. I hope Rep Scalise has a full recovery and the others hurt in the shooting make a full recovery. What’s troubling is in this time of political change as old traditions are being stripped away for many reasons, is this undercurrent of emboldened repressed views. Now some can argue that Mr. Trump has that undercurrent present in his platform and the visibility of certain groups we all know existed. But all these headlines seem to miss an important ideological shift that is underway

To me, what may be lost in all this change is the ability to maintain a space to some degree of a difference in opinion. The New York Public Theater recently did an adaption of Julius Caesar in which a Trump like figure was being assassinated in the play’s key scene. There has been such backlash from it from as far as the Trump family themselves. This is on the heels of Kathy Griffin’s recent comedic picture with the decapitated pseudo head of Mr. Trump where she suffered backlash, likely ending her career. While you can debate parts of both stories, what should not be up for debate is this idea of not being able to express a viewpoint which is different from someone else because it doesn’t have equal weight in a discussion BECAUSE it is merely a different viewpoint.

While no one said American was great at trying to be supportive of divergent views, it would appear the value placed on making the effort to do so is being lost. To me, that might be one of the things Shakespeare’s play may have hinted at.

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