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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
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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