The Richland, PA School District canceled a high school student production of Kismet, a 1953 musical made along the lines of stories from the Arabian Nights. The musical was planned to open in February.

The reason: the proximity of the town to the 9/11 attacks: “Flight 93 flew right over our heads.” A fact which apparently has made local citizens extra sensitive to Muslim characters. Sensitive to the extent that the story of a wily beggar-poet, his  beautiful daughter and the handsome caliph who falls in love with her in ancient Baghdad is banned just because of religious associations.

What can we say about the culture and society that would ban Scheherazade and her stories from production just because they are set in an Islamic country? And what has happened to the principles of tolerance and diversity? Perhaps, in flying over Western Pennsylvania, Flight 93 dropped a Taliban virus that affected the brains of some of its citizens? I have no other explanation for the absurd and racist decision to “protect” the sensitivities of local people by suppressing any mention of Muslims.