It isn’t the best week for Tony Kushner. Earlier this week he was waylaid CUNY’s board of trustees, after a right-wing Israel supporter who sits on the board convinced the school to rescind an honorary degree because of the playwright’s criticism of Israel (first, I say with admittedly churlish pride, reported by my Jewish Week colleague, Doug Chandler).
Then today, The New York Times, who has otherwise jumped to the CUNY story with relish–and, laudably, in Kushner’s defense–gave his new play a pretty much lackluster review. "The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With A Key to the Scriptures," which opened yesterday at The Public, wrote The paper’s theater critic Ben Brantley, leaves viewers with "a nagging impression … that the most important conversation that’s happening in this play isn’t among its characters; it’s between Mr. Kushner and a vast library of political theory and world drama."
Kushner is probably too distracted now with the CUNY affair to be concerned about a measly review. In fact he’s probably looking for allies on his crusade now against CUNY. But he hasn’t been let down, and not only by The Times, but by other prominent web sites too.
You can count me in that boat too, and in the spirit of defending Kushner–or, more specifically, being entirely aghast by CUNY’s decision to the rescind the degree–I’ll offer some good arguments that have been recently made in his defense. It’s Friday, it’s getting late, and I’m in no mood to articulate my own views with such precision. Thankfully these folks have done it for me:
1) Liel Liebovitz of Tablet Magazine has one of the best.
2) The New York Times’ interview with the CUNY trustee who spearheaded the action against Kusher–Jeffrey Wiesenfeld–has a pretty good one too.
3) The Guardian in London came out in Kushner’s defense.
4) My colleague Jim Besser also had an excellent critique of the Kushner affair.
5) As did The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.
6) And The Nation.
*And if you want to hear what some conservatives have been saying, against Kushner and his growing legion of supporters, read this, in Commentary.