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No, Maria Conchita Alonso wasn't blacklisted from The Vagina Monologues
Before jumping to conclusions, please watch her interview with Megyn Kelly
A knee-jerk decision?
A knee-jerk decision? (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
I

t's a story tailor-made for Fox News: Venezuelan-Cuban actress Maria Conchita Alonso resigned from an upcoming San Francisco Spanish-language production of The Vagina Monologues over the weekend after outraged locals objected to her filming a campaign ad for Tea Party Republican Tim Donnelly, who's running for California governor.

And in fact on Monday night, Alonso appeared on Fox's The Kelly File to talk over her decision and lament her burden as an outspoken conservative in the film and theater business. (Alonso's most famous movie roles were in Moscow on the Hudson [1984] and The Walking Man [1987], which make's PJ Media's "Famed Actress Booted Out of Production" headline seem a little overblown.)

Alonso hasn't kept her conservative, anti-Castro beliefs private — she's appeared on Fox News before, and once got in a shouting match with Sean Penn at an airport baggage-claim area over his support for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez — but it is "a thing for me," she told Megyn Kelly. Most other actors "don't have to go through that." Alonso says she quit the show because liberal activists "were saying they were going to burn down the theater, they were going to boycott."

It's not hard to understand why the typical audience member of The Vagina Monologues might disagree with a Donnelly endorsement. The California Assemblyman has staked out conservative positions on abortion rights and gay marriage, for example. But it is his hard-line stance on illegal immigration that caused Alonso trouble. Donnelly is the founder of a local chapter of the Minuteman Project, which patrols the U.S.-Mexico border looking for crossing immigrants.

Alonso told Kelly that Donnelly has softened his position on immigration somewhat. But the play is in the Mission district, a traditionally Latino part of San Francisco, and "we really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately," producer Eliana Lopez told local CBS affiliate KPIX. "Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we're in the middle of the Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe."

Hounding Alonso to quit the production was dumb, though. Debra Saunders at the San Francisco Chronicle is right that while her critics have every legal right to boycott the show and Lopez would have had the right to fire Alonso, "in a tolerant society that values open debate, critics don't go after someone's acting career because they want to muzzle her point of view." Saunders is also correct to note that on the issue at hand, immigration, Alonso's views aren't as conservative as Donnelly's.

It's also a little self-defeating to try to limit the audience for any production of The Vagina Monologues — the show's powerful message against sexual abuse and domestic violence and for women's empowerment only has an impact if people see it, and the more viewers of whatever political persuasion, the better for the people trying to get that message out. Alonso tells Kelly that the play is "fun," but it's a message she obviously believes in, too.

But Saunders — and Ed Morrissey, and The American Conservative's Rod Dreher, and a bunch of less persuasive conservative writers — are wrong to try to make this out as some sort of reverse "Hollywood blacklist." It's not. It's local activism — the same sort "Miami groups did when artists perceived as pro-Castro wanted to perform in Miami," notes Lydia Chávez at Mission Local.

Watch her interview with Kelly, though, and Alonso not only says that she dropped out on her own to spare her fellow actresses the fallout from her own decisions and hopes the show succeeds, but she also seems most annoyed about the criticism of her Chihuahua, Tequila.

Maria Conchita Alonso shouldn't have quit The Vagina Monologues, and certainly nobody should have threatened her or the show with violence (if anyone did). But conservatives are overplaying their hand. And we know this because of Fox News.

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

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