CAIR-Chicago participated in a panel discussion with other community activists to explore how an iconic 20th century play exposes alarming historical parallels between citizens targeted for witch hunts during the colonial period, alleged communists accused of treason during the McCarthy era, and Muslims and Arabs targeted in the current War on Terror.
The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is the most recent selection of the city-wide “One Book, One Chicago,” program. Miller’s play explores the fear created by the infamous witch hunts in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts. The play was inspired by the events of the Red Scare in the 1950s which led to many public figures being accused of being Communists, including Miller.
The panel discussed the similarities between other groups who have been targets of suspicion. One such group was the Japanese Americans. Despite never being charged with any crime, they were placed in internment camps following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The government failed to officially acknowledge the internment until over 50 years after World War II.
Muslim and Arab communities have been similarly singled out as targets of suspicion following the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001.
The panelists discussed how fear allows recurring episodes of discrimination, prevents lessons from being learned, and allows the repetition of shameful actions on the part of the American government.
The panel included CAIR-Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab; Jean Fujiu, Executive Director of the Japanese American Service Committee; and C.C. Carter, Director of community and Cultural Programming at The Center on Halsted. Martha Lavey, the Artistic Director at Steppenwolf, moderated the panel and led the Q&A session. The event was also accompanied by Steppenwolf Ensemble members James Meredith, Sally Murphy and Alana Arenas who performed readings of the selected book. Also in attendance were CAIR-Chicago’s Outreach Coordinator Gerald Hankerson, CAIR-Chicago’s Board Secretary Yaser Tabbara, and a community audience.
Information, interviews, and listings for all other related events, plays and group discussions throughout Chicago can be found at: http://www.chipublib.org/pdf/oboc_fall07.pdf
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