What Dr. Kritzinger Is All About

From the Burien Actors Theatre Production of Dr. Kritzinger's 12 O'Clock.
From the Burien Actors Theatre Production of Dr. Kritzinger’s 12 O’Clock.

After each performance of Dr. Kritzinger’s 12 O’Clock, I come out on stage (still in costume) and take audience questions. A question that came up during Sunday matinee, which I’ll paraphrase, was this:

Is this play about the Nazis during World War II, or is it a comment on atrocities going on today?

Short version of my reply: both.

The Wannsee Conference, the subject of Dr. Kritzinger, was a specific historical event. The actors on stage are playing the German officials who gathered on January 20th, 1942 to commit themselves and their government departments to Hitler’s genocide.

However, the Nazis invented neither genocide nor the habits of mind that fuel it. The dehumanization of Jews by the Nazis parallels the dehumanization of out groups by powerful in groups all over the world. In the U.S., we did it to the Native Americans whose land we seized and the Africans whom we kidnapped, forced into servitude, and subjected to an additional 150 years of brutal apartheid. The Turks did it to the Armenians.  The Hutu did it to the Tutsis. The Khmer Rouge did it to the “New People”. Suharto did it to Indonesian communists. Efrain Rios Montt of Guatemala did it to the Mayans. The Russians did it to Ukraine. The Japanese did it to China. In Gambia, today, the target is gay people (From Slate):

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh—a dictator who came to power in a 1994 coup—is not a friend of the gays. In the past, Jammeh has called gays “vermin” that “we will fight,” described homosexuality as “evil, antihuman as well as anti-Allah,” and threatened to “cut off the head” of gays in Gambia. Last November, he signed a law that would impose a life sentence on anyone who has gay sex. His police force has been known to arrest Gambians suspected to be gay and threaten them with rape and torture.

It is no surprise, then, that Jammeh escalated his anti-gay rhetoric in a recent speech, making a vicious threat against every gay person who has dared to remain in Gambia. According to Vice News, Jammeh told a crowd:

If you do it [in the Gambia] I will slit your throat—if you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it.

This is why I specified that Dr. Kritzinger was meant to be cast without regard to the gender or ethnicity of the actors. Audiences should hear the language of mass murder coming from the mouths of people who look like them. That might help us understand that genocide is not merely a crime that some people commit against others. It’s a crime that our species commits against itself.

Pats Fans, Spare Us

Deadspin, home of some of the funniest takes on the New England Patriots, predicted that whatever the punishment was for Tom Brady and his team would give Patriots fans a chance to do what they do best, whine.

Witness (from Slate’s Seth Stevenson):

The letter also cites as a factor in the harsh punishment “the failure of Tom Brady to produce any electronic evidence, despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information.” Yikes. What kind of totalitarian inquisition was this? Brady answered the investigators’ questions in person. His reluctance to turn over emails and texts was perfectly reasonable—would you trust the NFL to safeguard your private communications with your friends, family, and superfamous, smokeshow wife? A football-related matter does not give the NFL broad license to poke around in a player’s personal files. Go get a warrant, NFL. Where are we meant to draw the line here? If the NFL had demanded to search Brady’s home, or to audit his financial holdings, would Brady have not been within his rights to refuse, according to Torquemada Goodell?

Totalitarian? Torquemada? Please. Brady’s been sentenced to an unpaid, four week September vacation with a supermodel, not packed off to Kolyma or made the star attraction at an auto da fe. The worst to befall him is that he’s been branded as a cheater, which seems only fair because he is one. And just for the record, employers are allowed to demand that employees cooperate with internal investigations, and to punish them if they fail to comply. They don’t have the power to jail, but they do have the power to dock pay or fire. If you’d like to change employment law, Stevenson, fine by me, but–and I know this his hard for a Patriots fan to grasp–rules are rules.

A tweet from yesterday managed to sum up the over-the-top wailing and gnashing of teeth Patriots fans are subjecting us to.

When cornered, Patriots fans are fond of saying “You hate us cuz you ain’t us.” Wrong again. I wouldn’t want to be a Patriots fan for anything in the world. It seems like such a glum form of sports fandom. Winning doesn’t occasion much joy because it’s always mixed with grumbling about how unpopular the team is despite its “class” and “high character players”. (That talk’s died down a bit since Aaron Hernandez started killing everyone who knew about those other people he killed.) Losing sinks the Pats fan into a stew of cynical bitterness about how all the success haters in the NFL are plotting against their team. I live around Seahawks fans, and trust me, they can be obnoxious. But I’d pick them over Pats fans any day of the week and twice on Sunday, which is something I’m forced to do until my Oakland Raiders get closer on their “A Winning Record In 2084″ draft strategy.

As Deadspin put it a couple of years ago:

You people have won the Worst Fans on the Fucking Planet title belt for 30 years in a row. You’re horrible when you win, and you’re especially horrible when you lose—i.e., when you get to drive more nails into your wrists and drag your stupid crosses from WEEI to WBZ and back again. Even in good times, you assholes show off your losses like a kindergartener showing off a booboo. THIS IS THE SKINNED KNUCKLE I GAWT WHEN TYREE MADE THAT LUCKY CATCH! SOME SCAHHHHHS NEVAH HEAL! You have three Super Bowl titles and yet you will invariably find a way to bitch about the ones you didn’t (and shouldn’t) have won. You will simultaneously wax nostalgic for the old days and curse them in equal measure. You will complain about Belichick losing his touch while simultaneously lording his genius over opposing fans. You’ll brag about Robert Kraft’s classiness while threatening to fist someone’s ladyfriend for wearing a Giants jersey to Gillette Stadium. You are whiny, sniveling, self-absorbed, two-faced posers who eat your young. All of you. I fucking hate the Patriots and my favorite day of every year is the day they get knocked out of the playoffs.

Mine too.