Archive for June, 2017

Letter to Delta

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Below is my letter to the CEO of Delta Air Lines regarding the Julius Caesar controversy:

June 12, 2017

Edward H. Bastian

Delta Air Lines, Inc.
P.O. Box 20706
Atlanta, Georgia 30320-6001

Dear Mr. Bastian,

I recently flew back from Rome on Delta and remembered again how much I enjoy your airline’s calm, efficient service. I will have difficulty flying Delta again, however, unless it reinstates its sponsorship of New York’s Public Theater.

I understand you’re in a difficult position. People like me won’t fly Delta because you withdrew support. Others won’t if you continue your support. But the stakes here are much higher than which set of customers you lose.

Support of the arts entails grave responsibility. When you bow to loud voices and withdraw funding from an arts organization, you give those voices a power to silence that goes beyond one production of Julius Caesar. You send a message to arts organizations around the country that if they take on controversial material they risk losing funding. You’re not required to fund the arts, but if you do, you need to think carefully about the consequences of your decisions. Here you’re allowing one very vocal group to dictate how the arts are allowed to speak.

I applaud your past support of the Public Theater, one of New York’s most important arts institutions. I understand that the current controversy has tested that support, but it seems to me that it requires a response not just more courageous, but more nuanced: a ringing endorsement of freedom of expression tempered with an understanding of art’s complexity. As many others have pointed out, Julius Caesar is a play in which assassination and political faction plunge a nation into chaos. Of the assassins, the one with the most “noble” motives ends up physically and morally destroyed. Forcing us to engage with that kind of complexity is one of the most important things that art does. Those railing against the Public’s production seek to reduce that complexity, which should worry us whatever side of the political spectrum it’s coming from.

As I say, it’s a difficult position for an airline to be in, but I believe you should come down firmly on the side of complexity.


David Foley