Cherie Zaslawsky
The crime of having fun
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By Cherie Zaslawsky
March 5, 2019

It's difficult to keep up with the Left's crusades against new, presumably intolerable "offenses," giving rise to the witch hunt du jour – but one of the most bizarre has got to be that of Halloween costumes Dems don't like. I'm referring to the unpardonable crime of someone having worn blackface on Halloween, no matter how many decades ago the offending Republican...I mean person...did so.

While a similarly offending Democrat will be scolded by Big Media, somehow he or she will be forgiven – let bygones be bygones, don'tcha know. Ask Governor Ralph Northam – who may have even worn a KKK hooded costume in addition to blackface on another occasion. Hmmm...seems he's still in office. On the other hand, Republicans must immediately step down in ignominy as Florida Secretary of State, Republican Michael Ertel knows only too well.

For the record, I believe Northam should be recalled as governor, but not for having worn blackface many years prior. That's silliness. Rather for calmly advocating cold-blooded infanticide. That's serious.

The blackface tradition from the 20th century – the only one people today would have experienced – was certainly not racist. In fact Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor, two famous Jewish entertainers who often performed in blackface, both advocated on behalf of black musicians and singers. One might even argue that Jolson wore blackface to pay homage to the talented black singers of his day, and because he loved to sing their music.

In fact, Sophie Tucker and Fanny Brice, two Jewish singers of the same period who sometimes sang in blackface, paved the way for black women singers Bessy Smith and Ethel Waters. Back in the day, even some black performers wore blackface. This practice evolved as one out of many styles of American vaudeville. There's no need to demonize it, though it is clearly passé today. In fact, why insist on seeing it as demeaning, when imitation is often touted as the highest form of flattery? And remember, blackface occurred in the entertainment and music business, which tended to be welcoming to black people and where they quickly excelled.

And as for Halloween: the whole point is to be funny or scary or over-the-top in one way or another. In Governor Northam's case, the photo of the blackface fellow standing next to the KKK guy is meant to be outrageous – that's the point! It reminds me of the scene in the movie The Producers where the company dance around singing "Springtime for Hitler in Germany." A shocker for sure. But we get that it's satire – it's turning history on its head and ignoring the reality for a moment. It makes people laugh. And humor can sometimes be a healing antidote to painful episodes from the past.

And by the way, being free means we're also free to offend one another on occasion. Did no one find it offensive that the Public Theater group hired an actor who looked like Trump to play Julius Caesar and then showed him assassinated in the public square? Was that not particularly outrageous, and what many would say was not the least bit funny, as it suggested the assassination of an incumbent American President?

Of course there is such a thing as bad taste, but one can't legislate against it. At least let's hope not. And what the public considers acceptable entertainment also changes over time. As Anthony Sabatini, a 30-year-old Florida state representative who's in the crosshairs for having worn blackface at a party in high school said recently, "When we were 15, 16, sophomore year, it was OK to joke around like that. It's changed, OK? There is definitely a different standard. I get it."

Well, it's changed recently because the Left discovered it can use old high school yearbooks to attack Conservatives, as in the infamous grilling of Brett Kavanaugh. And the witch hunt against Republicans who wore blackface – or mentioned that it might be OK on Halloween, as Megyn Kelly did – also appeals to the Left's radical base that loves nothing better than to call out racism where none exists.

Americans must not cave in to Leftists' hypocritical bullying. We should either hold them to the same standard they inflict on Republicans, or, better yet, dismiss the whole matter of high school yearbooks, Halloween costumes, and blackface as totally beside the point when it comes to assessing a person's suitability for office.

When I vacationed in Italy some years back, I met a woman whose family had lived through WWII under Mussolini. She herself had traveled to the Soviet Union in the 1970s and saw what life was like under Communism. She had this to say: Under Mussolini there were rules you had to follow, but you could still enjoy your life. However, Communism drained all the happiness out of life. The people living under it could not enjoy their lives.

America can't afford to lose its sense of humor. Along with free expression, the Left is busily draining innocent fun, playfulness and joy out of our lives. Maybe we should all agree to wear blackface one Halloween, whites and blacks alike. Then perhaps we can put this whole faux issue behind us and go on to more important things, like saving our Republic.

© Cherie Zaslawsky

 

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