The Hollywood blacklist, according to Wikipedia, is the term for “the mid-20th-century practice of denying employment to screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals because of their suspected political beliefs or associations.” The blacklist spirit is alive and living in San Francisco, but here and now the enemies of free thought have a new question: Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Republican Party?
Last week, actress Maria Conchita Alonso resigned her role in a Mission District Spanish-language production of “The Vagina Monologues,” after pro-illegal immigration activists threatened a boycott.
They protested because Alonso, best-known for her debut film, “Moscow on the Hudson,” had appeared in a video supporting the gubernatorial candidacy of GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly — aka, to La Opinion, “un ultra conservador republicano.” Donnelly is a former member of the Minutemen, a group that is pro-border enforcement, and he opposes California’s DREAM Act, which, to Telemundo, makes him anti-immigrant.
“We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately,” producer Eliana Lopez told KPIX-TV. And: “Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of the Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe.”
Allow me to state the obvious. Just as Alonso has a First Amendment right to her opinions, critics had a right to call for a boycott. Producers of the play would have had the right to fire her if they so chose. Would-be patrons have a right not to buy tickets.
But in a tolerant society that values open debate, critics don’t go after someone’s acting career because they want to muzzle her point of view. It is, after all, fair play for partisans to vote against Donnelly because they disagree with him. It’s fair play to give money to his opponents. It is fair play not to pay to hear Alonso or Donnelly lecture on politics.
These boycott threats, however, had nothing to do with honest debate. They were an attempt to marginalize an actress because of her conservative political views and impede her ability to make a living outside politics. Just like the blacklist.
It’s also guilt by association. Alonso, a Cuban-born, Venezuelan-raised naturalized U.S. citizen, says she supports Donnelly because of his small-government views on the economy and energy. She told La Opinion that she supports deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records but supports a path to legalization for some immigrants who have been in the country illegally but have no criminal records.
Thus, pro-illegal immigration groups are going after Alonso, a legal immigrant who is sympathetic with some of their goals, because she supports a white guy who is a gung-ho opponent of illegal immigration.
Make no mistake about it; activists who are pro-illegal immigration and Spanish-language media are particularly committed to marginalizing Alonso precisely because she is a Latina. They have a stake in portraying the Latino vote as monolithic. Nuance is not welcome in this controversy, as the war against Alonso signals that good Latinos must not distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. The strategy works. A 2010 Pew poll found that 31 percent of Latinos viewed illegal immigration as a negative; by 2013, that viewpoint had shrunk to 21 percent.
Perhaps if Alonso renounces Donnelly, activists will welcome the actress to the San Francisco stage, where she can engage in oh-so-tolerant progressives’ favorite form of political discourse — the monologue, of course.