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Veronique of the Mounties 

Our local source for protest theater offers a weird exercise in moral equivalence

Wednesday, Jul 16 2003
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This should have been an easy year for the San Francisco Mime Troupe, our local source for agitprop protest theater. Since its last show we've had 1) a war in Iraq waged on questionable pretenses, 2) a new "Department of Homeland Security," which has already been involved in one domestic political scandal in Texas, and 3) an old Iran-Contra criminal appointed to a "data-mining" project at the Pentagon that'll make spying on Americans much easier if it ever becomes legal. Rich, rich material for satire: You'd think the Mime Troupe would be all over it. Instead, we get a weird exercise in moral equivalence called Veronique of the Mounties, about a policewoman from Canada embroiled in espionage during an American invasion of her country. Under the pretext of a War on Terrorism, boneheaded U.S. troops (along with their officers, dressed like Nazis) try to liberate Canadians from their own "totalitarian" government. (Canada, of course, also has a lot of oil.) Most of the songs are lame -- except for "A Shot and a Beer," by Ed Holmes -- and the story is convoluted, but the real failure in Veronique is that it makes fun of the one aspect of the war in Iraq that should be uncontroversial: Saddam was a brutal tyrant. That wasn't propaganda. Whatever else was wrong with the war, "liberating" Iraq wasn't even close, on a nonsense scale, to invading Canada. Meanwhile, a Republican White House with a confusing reputation for small government concentrates unprecedented power in Washington, and the Mime Troupe has almost nothing to say.

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