Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

'Disgraced' about entire human race

Wick's World


This is merely my opinion, but every single individual who walked out of the Guthrie Theater following the play “Disgraced” should have felt somewhat disgraced about themselves and the entire human race. My eyes were opened to the fact that as human beings, we are immensely infused by our DNA makeup, genetics, ancestral prejudices, and upbringing and even where, when and what family into which we are born.

Following the play, I asked my wife, “Although we have lived well over half our lives in Minnesota, do you still feel like you are a South Dakotan?" I know I certainly do. When we cross the state line just before Sioux Falls, I feel like I’m home.

“That feeling has never left me,” she replied.

The play “Disgraced” brought up the realization that some things are so deep-seated in the human psyche that no matter how hard we try, they are irremovable. The play revealed to us much more than just the fact that we say, “Once a Dakotan, always a Dakotan.”

Although the main character in “Disgraced” is a successful Pakistani-American lawyer who fled his Muslim heritage quicker than a Donald Trump policy shift, he could never seem to rid either his colleagues or himself of his heritage and the Islamophobia surrounding it.

The play started rather slow, but I later understood the necessity of building the complex situations surrounding the seemingly rather straight-forward characters. A Pakistani-American lawyer is married to a white American woman, a successful artist in her own right who ironically specialized in Muslim artwork. However, it was obvious she was also a typical, doting subservient wife who always had dinner ready for her hubby’s arrival from the office. Their best friends were a white American art dealer and his very successful lawyer wife who is African-American.

When the four very divergent friends got together for a dinner party, the introduction of alcohol blew the play to smithereens. I doubt if there was a person at the Guthrie Theater watching those explosive moments who could deny the shock, revelations and deep insights that permeated our psyche.

The Pakistani-American male lawyer flew into a rage because the African-American female lawyer was granted the firm’s partnership promotion he thought he deserved. He stated the most profound sentence in the play “Who’s the n----- here?”

My wife pointed out that although he pointedly directed his rage to the race factor, undoubtedly it was also fueled by the fact he lost to a woman. Even though he continually denied his Muslim heritage, he emanated the male superiority his culture nurtures. When the female took his rightfully owned promotion, it touched a deep-down nerve ending he had spent his entire life trying to suppress.

On a personal level, I rejected my early religious upbringing and call myself a "recovering Lutheran." I now realize it was this very religion that gave me the foundation for a lifelong love of seeking spirituality, theological comprehension and lessons of the universe. The play showed me how my greatest adversary, Lutheranism, became my supreme benefactor for my intense love for all knowledge.

After work, we call it cocktail hour. At our dinner parties, we call it social drinking.

A Mayan Chieftain once told me, “In the village, we call it a tongue-loosener.”

My uncle Bobby said it best, “Luke (he called me), it’s the booze talking.”

The profundity of our personal prejudices, as they did in “Disgraced,” often surface with the appearance of alcohol. No matter what name we apply to this social stimulant, alcohol can do two things: It can loosen us up to say things we really feel that normally remain unsaid or it can make us say things we really do not mean, but, because the “booze is talking,” we go ahead and say them anyway. “Disgraced,” the most produced theatrical production of this season, takes both directions.


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