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Muslim-Profiling Question Censored by Major Newspaper, Critics 'Expressing a Political Opinion' a No-No

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"Her editors are gutless or fools or both."

Actors in the play "Invasion!" (Credit: Silk Road web site)

After a Chicago Sun-Times theater critic offered in her review of a play that more vigilant profiling of Muslims could have prevented the Boston Marathon bombings, the paper publicly censored Hedy Weiss' comments, Newsbusters notes.

The play Weiss reviewed is called “Invasion!” which Weiss describes as "a cry against Muslim profiling." According to JimRomenesko.com, the Sun-Times deleted the following question from Weiss' review:

"...those still thinking of the horrific terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon might well be tempted to ask: What practical alternative to profiling would you suggest?"

Actors in the play "Invasion!" (Credit: Silk Road web site)

The Sun-Times editor’s note at the end of her revised review reads: “A previous version of this review contained language about racial profiling that may have been perceived as expressing a political opinion. This is an updated version of that review.”

Jamil Khoury, the founding artistic director of Silk Road Rising which put on the play, was less than satisfied by the Sun-Times' actions:

"And while I appreciate her editor making this change, it is woefully insufficient and downright offensive to Sun-Times readers, particularly readers from communities that are, or have been, racially profiled! A more appropriate response from the Chicago Sun-Times would be a formal apology to Chicago’s Arab, Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities, and a disavowal of Hedy’s Islamophobic and anti-Arab views."

Weiss offers her take in an interview with Jim Romenesko:

“One of my goals as a critic is to record my visceral reactions to a live performance. And as every actor will tell you, he or she brings the outside world with them each night to a performance, as does the audience.

“As I mentioned in my review of 'Invasion!,' the news reports that were playing on my car radio as I headed to the theater were all about the global terror alert. And that was just one more reminder of all that I’d read about the closed-down investigation of the Tarnaev brothers well in advance of the bombings, and the horrifying photos of the amputee victims of that attack. Whether we like it or not, we are ALL being profiled every time we enter an airport, highrise or crowd of any kind these days — primarily out of a genuine necessity that the playwright, in my opinion, was not addressing honestly. For me to not honestly address that feeling would have been to write a dishonest review.”

Newsbusters adds that Glenn Garvin, a TV critic for The Miami Herald, criticized the Sun-Times decision in the comments section on the paper's Web site:

The point is not whether Hedy Weiss is right or wrong. It's whether political ideas can be discussed in a review. Art (decent art, anyway) is about ideas, and ideas are usually political -- sometimes broadly, sometimes specifically. It is perfectly appropriate for a critic to join in the debate over those ideas. And they do it all the time, often unnoticed as long as they do so within the mainstream views of journalism. No theater critic, I wager, has ever been disciplined or edited for a sentence like, "'The Crucible' is a withering attack on the evils of McCarthyism."

Ms. Weiss' real crime, I suspect, was to write a sentence that was less than 110 percent loyal to a major sacred cow of political correctness -- the evil of profiling. If she had endorsed the play's opposition to profiling, she would have been fine, even though that would have been no less a political statement. Her editors are gutless or fools or both.

The following is a scene from "Invasion!":

(H/T: Newsbusters)

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