No stranger to controversy — the cliché fits Tony Kushner, whose groundbreaking play cycle Angels in America (subtitle A Gay Fantasia on National Themes) was one of the major flashpoints in the modern culture war. (It is still a sore subject in some places, as Studio 360 reported in 2009.) Now Kushner's views are once again subject of debate, this time from an unexpected quarter.
Kushner was to receive an honorary award from the City University of New York's John Jay College. In an unprecedented move, according to The New York Times report on the events, CUNY's board of trustees voted to deny the award, after a trustee attacked Kushner's views on Israel. Kushner asserts that his views are shared by Jews and supporters of Israel inside that country and in the US — he responded to CUNY in a letter posted in The Jewish Week.
Kurt Andersen spoke with Kushner days ago in Studio 360 about The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures. The new play deals with the fall of Communism and the right (of a healthy person) to suicide — issues that are nowhere near the top of the national agenda. If Kushner hoped to take a break from controversy, we wish him better luck next time.
Update 5/10: The Times reports the board has reversed its decision, awarding Kushner an honorary doctor of letters degree.