“Walking to Buchenwald” is a journey into extreme

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Currently on stage at the Atwater Village Theatre the Open Fist Theatre Company presents Walking to Buchanwald written by Tom Jacobson. It is a fairly short two act show with a superb cast that does an excellent job of creating an abundance of humor while concurrently stimulating deeper thought as they first prepare and then embark on a trip throughout much of Europe. It is on that trip we learn from the playwright’s perspective the world vision of America has turned very negative.

What begins as a very humorous family tale soon evolves into a severely partisan and often wildly misstatement of world history. Oh it starts out rather funny with the older lady proclaiming that they, she and her husband, are the only two Democrats in Oklahoma.  But as the show progresses the hate and contempt they hold apparently for President Donald Trump and gigantic misstatements of historical fact emerge.

At one point there is a discussion of the Peace Memorials in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I never visited the memorial in Nagasaki but as a young United States Marine I had the honor of visiting the peace memorial in Hiroshima and was forever moved but what I saw. Yes, it was a horrific moment in world history and it was and remains for now at least true that the United States of America is the only nation to have ever used a nuclear weapon against another nation and its people.

Given that reality I quickly formed and still hold to the opinion that no major political leader on earth should be allowed to hold office until such time has he or she visits the peace memorial at Hiroshima. That will never happen, of course, but it is my dream.

But to say that those attacks were unjustified because Japan was just about ready to surrender is absolutely contrary to the reality of that time. The leadership of Japan in 1945 was totally committed to continuing the fight. So when then President Harry S. Truman, a Democrat by the way, made his decision to launch two nuclear attacks on Japan that decision weighed those horrible deaths of thousands against the very real probability that were the war to continue the death toll could easily have gone into the hundreds of thousands or even into the millions of both Japanese and American people. It was not an easy decision for President Truman but based on then available facts it was in his opinion the best of two very ugly choices.

Throughout our history our nation and for that matter every nation has had leadership not always enjoyed by the people it served. No one now or throughout history has been loved by everyone. Our nation has for a long time been controlled by a mix of the two main political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats.

But throughout my life in the end all people were first and foremost Americans and their political party was second. I saw an elegant example of that truth when I had the honor one day to be a guest of Senator Everett Dirksen, who at the time was the leader of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate.

As we were talking by the door to the Senate chamber another man came off of the Senate floor to say hello. He was a very prominent Democrat by the name of John Kennedy. Both men greeted each other warmly despite their political differences.

But now in Walking to Buchenwald we get to experience the elderly woman claiming to feel so much more freedom in Europe than back home in America. She is so disgusted with the current President and so imbued with a whole new sense of power that she celebrates the moment by advocating the assassination of the President.

NOTE to writer Tom Jacobson, your actress was not in France at the time, she was in California, USA where it is a very serious felony to advocate the killing of any American President of any political persuasion. May I suggest Ton that one should always at least attempt to disagree but without becoming disagreeable and I just happen to be of the opinion that advocating the murder of a sitting President of any political persuasion to be extremely disagreeable as well as felonious.

If you enjoy political extremism you will love Walking to Buchenwald. It is at the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, California Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 7:00 p.m. Reservations may be made and tickets purchase by calling 323-882-6912.

Top photo of Ben Martin and Laura James by Darrell Sanders