It would be nice to believe that this painful period of intense identity politics we’ve been trudging through for the last five years or so is winding its way to the sad conclusion it was always destined for. There haven’t been any major college shutdowns in a while, after all. Are we finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel?
In fact, we may be on the verge of seeing this “movement” get even worse. Now it has escaped its college confines and infected high school territory. At New York’s Ithaca High School this week, a group of radical students has successfully convinced the administration to cancel production of a Hunchback of Notre Dame musical because a white girl was cast as the lead, Esmeralda.
The students, using the collective name “Students United Ithaca,” wrote to the administration demanding that the school either recast the role with a person of color or cancel the musical altogether.
“Esmeralda is accurately depicted in the Disney musical, and is written for a young woman of color,” the students wrote. “Esmeralda is a Roma, part of an oppressed class of people. It is her oppression, and that of her people, which allows her to better understand the perspective of the Hunchback and to ultimately advocate for him.”
The students then presented the school with a choice: Either “choose a different show and hold new auditions,” or:
Do the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but recruit the many talented brown and black female students at IHS who have received the message that IHS musicals are a playground of the white privileged students of our school. We ask that these students are actively recruited and encouraged to audition. There are students who have never stepped foot in the choir room but can blow the roof off their church choir. They should be playing this role. It is their story to tell.
This would have been a perfect opportunity for the school district to put these kids in their place, make them understand that writing racist letters of demand doesn’t work in the real world, and encourage them to focus less on social activism and more on their studies.
Instead, they immediately capitulated.
“The active community engagement and conversation about the selection of the Hunchback of Notre Dame for the Ithaca High School musical has led to many conversations in our school district,” they wrote. “This dialogue has affirmed our observations and wishes to have a more inclusive and culturally responsive learning community. In short, our efforts to eliminate institutional biases are ongoing. The Hunchback of Notre Dame will not be performed this spring.”
All we can say is: Good luck to the college administrators and professors who have to deal with the next generation of incoming students. They’re bringing extraordinary entitlement and wildly misguided racial ideas with them to campus. It ain’t gonna be pretty.