Identity politics

Weren't There Macedonian Actresses Who Had Been Having Affairs with Italians Who Could Be Cast in the Role?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Jeff Jacoby has an excellent column on the objections to Gal Gadot being cast as Cleopatra. An excerpt:

Cleopatra VII, the Queen of the Nile, may have been the foremost Egyptian of her day, but she was neither a black African nor an Arab. She was the last of the Ptolemaic Pharaohs, a direct descendant of Ptolemy I, the Macedonian Greek military officer and companion of Alexander the Great who became the ruler of Egypt after Alexander's death. Though the identity of Cleopatra's mother has not been definitively established, there is no doubt that Cleopatra regarded herself and was regarded by others as Greek. Egypt today is the most populous Arab country, but there was nothing Arab about Egypt in Cleopatra's day: The Arab invasion and conquest of North Africa didn't occur until six centuries after her death….

Applying today's ethnic labels, Cleopatra would be considered Middle Eastern. Just like Gadot, whose father is a sixth-generation Israeli.

But leave all that aside. Assume for the sake of argument that Cleopatra and Gadot are from two wholly different racial/ethnic categories. Why should that matter? …

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  1. Assume for the sake of argument that Cleopatra and Gadot are from two wholly different racial/ethnic categories. Why should that matter?

    Because for a large group of people today, racial/ethnic identity is all that matters. Not the most important thing, but the only thing.

    1. In reality, only making money matters.

      All PC is case, and the lawyer profession must be crushed to save our nation from tyranny.

      1. Considering how single-mindedly you post on the evils of lawyers, money obviously is not what matters to you.

        1. AAB. Are you a lawyer? If not, we have no dispute. Have a blessed day.

      2. A modest proposal: Since we have commenters who only seem able to talk about one thing, perhaps we could have a rule that all they need to do is post their name and it will be understood that they were making their usual comment. For example, DaivdBehar can just post his name and it will be understood that he’s commented that he hates lawyers.

        Other possibilities:

        When Arthur Kirkland posts his name, it will be understood that he just made his standard “clingers are idiots and about to lose power” comment.

        When Dr. Ed posts his name, it will be understood that he made his usual “Christians need to reimpose theocracy” comment.

        There are probably others who can be added to the list. I’m probably a contender for “I hate the electoral college” though I do also talk about other things from time to time.

        1. “When Dr. Ed posts his name, it will be understood that he made his usual “Christians need to reimpose theocracy” comment”

          Except that is neither what he believes nor is saying.

          1. What is invariable in a Dr. Ed post is that he will attempt to correct someone who knows whatever subject is being corrected better than he does, and likely by a large margin.

        2. Well played

        3. Here’s what I’ll say.

          This single-minded preoccupation with “Sexual-ethnic-correct” roles is misguided, backwards, and counterproductive. People, no matter their ethnicity, can and should play roles of other ethnicities quite well.

          For example, we recently had a production of Hamilton where, gasp, not all of the actors were of their “correct” ethnic roles. This may be surprising, but Aaron Burr was not in fact African American, while the actor who played him (Leslie Odom) was. This took ABSOLUTELY NOTHING away from the performance of Leslie Odom.

          We should, in fact, let the best actors and actresses play the roles, REGARDLESS of their ethnicity or the ethnicity of who they are playing

          1. “We should, in fact, let the best actors and actresses play the roles, REGARDLESS of their ethnicity or the ethnicity of who they are playing”

            Meh. Casting a character of the same appearance as the character as written is no big deal. I don’t think anyone is going to pay to go see Verne Troyer starring in a Shaquille O’Neal biopic, even if they can CGI him making slam-dunks.
            When they made the Lord of the Rings movies, they did not hire any actual hobbits, dwarves, or elves. when they made Call of the Wild, they didn’t use any canine-American actors.

            1. How dare you!

              Bubba is an excellent Canine-American, who did a wonderful job portraying Buck in Call of the Wild. He shouldn’t be held back by his lack of hands, and I fully expect Bubba to be able to do a wonderful job portraying Aaron Burr in Hamilton next year.

              1. The film credits Terry Notary for playing “Buck” as “live action reference”, and then they overlaid a CGI dog. I am pretty sure Terry Notary is not Canine-American.

    2. If you are referring to Republican, conservative, and bigoted lawyers and elected officials engaging in race-targeting voter suppression, that ‘large group of people today [for whom] racial/ethnic identity is all that matters,’ your point is sound.

      Thank you for making it.

      1. Damn bigots. Suppressing the crucial dead vote.

      2. I only distinguish between lawyer and non-lawyer. They are all the same, members of the biggest criminal cult enterprise. It has fully infiltrated the three branches of our government.

        1. The old Rudy Giuliani joke: Every post from Daivd has a subject, a verb, and “lawyers bad.”

          It’s not the least bit tiresome and pointless. Please, keep going with the really helpful observation that you don’t like lawyers. On a legal blog. That’s aimed at lawyers and law students.

          Yawn.

          1. Santa. You yawn a lot. May be you have a sleep disorder.

            1. There must be some kind of trigger even. What. Could. It. Be?

          2. Are you sure it isn’t performance art, meant as a commentary on how RALK would look applied to any non-politics topic?

          3. The only thing more boring are RAK’s constant attempts (and remarkable successes) at proving himself the most bigoted and intolerant commentor here.

    3. “Because for a large group of people today, racial/ethnic identity is all that matters. Not the most important thing, but the only thing.”

      Don’t overlook hatred of Israel.

      It also doesn’t help that Gadot is married (to a man), has been for 12 years, and has two children.

      1. Other than your hatred of Israeli married mothers, do you have anything to add to the discussion?

          1. Let me clarify: Bigots — not I — inherently hate her because she is an Israeli. Remember BDS???

            And as you may have seen with ACB, feminists hate married mothers.

            As to Godot herself, I watched her “Wonder Woman” movie only because I was in the hospital and bored out of my mind. And I was impressed…

            IMHO, she’s one of the few (only?) current actresses to credibly portray romance, love, & loss — *that* would not have gone over well with the feminists.

            But associating me with the prejudicial bigots who hate her — unless you did it accidentally — is beyond the pale. Merely knowing how badly Israelis are treated by the American Left (particularly in academia) doesn’t mean that I approve of it, let alone participate in it…

            1. “Bigots — not I — inherently hate her because she is an Israeli.”

              What’s your excuse for hating her, if not the things you listed previously?

    4. Yes, people just recently started to take racial/ethnic identity as important. Jebus Christmas.

      It’s amazing how few people on the right can get that for most of our history lots of groups were demeaned and, well you might not like the word but it’s accurate, oppressed based on their racial/ethnic identity. What’s changed ‘today’ is that these groups are refuting that treatment, asserting pride in their racial/ethnic identity in response and want to reverse the under-representation in areas that is a result of that past treatment.

      1. Historical evils are not adequate justification for future evils.

        1. Addressing the current results of past evils isn’t an evil.

          1. A. Before you can use that argument, you need to demonstrate convincingly that there are still-current results.
            B. Even if there are still-current results, it can still be evil if your means of “addressing” the current results are themselves evil. Discrimination on the basis of race/ethnic background fits that bill.

            1. A. That’s not difficult. Here’s one example: one of the best predictors of college success is having a parent that went to college. Many if not most college age black persons today had grandparents that faced certain discrimination in that area. You can do this with a host of other variables.

              B. Depends on what you mean by ‘discrimination on the basis of race/ethnic background.’ The NAACP works to advance only certain races/ethnic groups, are they discriminating? Were they when they were founded in the 1909?

              1. And if they are, is it ‘evil?’

              2. “That’s not difficult. Here’s one example: one of the best predictors of college success is having a parent that went to college. Many if not most college age black persons today had grandparents that faced certain discrimination in that area.”

                That probably fits within the category of “evil”. We denied black people the right to reach their full potential. We left black talent on the table. We missed out on the benefit of having additional doctors, scientists, and engineers, and the black people who were discriminated against missed out on the benefits of being doctors, scientists, and engineers.

                But we can’t “address” those results. That talent is forever lost.

                1. The point is that when we denied those people’s talents we also put their descendants in a worse off situation too. Their talents are not lost forever.

                  1. Of course not. But we can’t change the past and make them be raised by college graduates, either.

                    1. Of course that’s not the only thing that we could for them. There’s lots of non-evil and possible other solutions we can try.

                    2. ” But we can’t change the past and make them be raised by college graduates, either.”

                      You CAN improve the odds for the next generation, however.

                      Your approach boils down to “if we can’t magically fix everything all at once, there’s no point fixing anything” which is a bit defeatist.

              3. Does the NAACP discriminate on the basis of race/ethnic background? – Yes.
                Was it justifiable in 1909? – Yes.
                Is it still justifiable today? – No. Or if justifiable, not nearly to the same degree.*

                I do not accept your evidence of still-current results of past evils. Race is a weak proxy for being poor and that is the dominant driver of low college attendance. Your claim of second-generational influencers is even weaker. The US is blessed with greater opportunities for economic and social mobility than almost any civilization in history. The idea that “the sins of the father shall be visited upon the son unto the seventh generation” is anathema.

                Your approach also trivializes the accomplishments of the people who succeeded in the face of actual discrimination. You lump everyone into racial buckets regardless of what their parents or grandparents achieved. I reject that racist view of life.

                1. * Footnote: Whether or not it is morally justifiable for the NAACP to discriminate, they are a private organization and it ought not to be illegal for them to discriminate on the basis of race or any other factor they think relevant. Morality and legality are different questions.

              4. Well I happen to come from 2 generations of single mothers, that faced discrimination in being allowed to go to college at least as severe as faced by blacks, as evidenced by the fact that the first Historically Black college was founded in 1837, and most were founded during reconstruction. Black men also got the vote more than 50 years before women did.

                By your logic I as a white male from a single female mother should be entitled to AA preferences.

                1. “By your logic I as a white male from a single female mother should be entitled to AA preferences.”

                  Absolutely, take a seat in the front row at your AA meetings, and say hi to Bill.

              5. A. So a white person, born into poverty whose parents (if she had two) who didn’t attended college are on the same level of a similarly situated black person?

                Perhaps we should seek out similar markers to identify those needing help and help them.

                Some African Americans don’t need help, like for example President Obama’s daughters and other similarly situated affluent blacks.

                Straight racial preferences have had a tendancy to help those who didn’t need much help.

          2. “Addressing the current results of past evils isn’t an evil.”

            Forcing black people back to Africa would certainly be evil.

            1. That that is the way to address the current results of past oppression that pops into your head says something interesting about your thoughts on this topic…

              1. I’m not sure why you say that. Forcing black people back to Africa from the US would certainly address some of the results of forcing them here in the first place. But it would be evil.

                Don’t forget that you’re the one who thinks that it’s not evil to address the results of past evils.

                1. It’s certainly not the only solution, in fact not a solution at all. Which is why I say it’s odd that it was the one you put forward.

                  1. It seems like the most obvious “solution” to the forcible migration of millions of people. But as you point out, it is no solution at all. That’s kind of the point. Often there are no solutions to past evils.

                    1. It’s not about solving past evils but about ameliorating the current effects of past evils.

                2. ” Forcing black people back to Africa from the US would certainly address some of the results of forcing them here in the first place.”

                  If, that is, the people you’re forcing out were previously forced in, and didn’t emigrate here on purpose like all the pale folks.

      2. Gadot’s mother’s folk escaped/survived the Holocaust — that sorta strikes me as oppression based on their racial/ethnic history.

        1. That’s beside the point, isn’t it? Take an example: let’s say a group, we’ll say Arab-Americans are underrepresented in acting roles in theater, television and film, and many of the roles offered are demeaning stereotypes. So a group of people start a scholarship fund to help Arab-Americans go to college as Theater majors. If Gal Gadot didn’t get a scholarship from that group because she wasn’t Arab-American that’s…fine, isn’t it?

          1. And if I refuse to hire people who are Arab-Americans, is that fine too? How about if I demand that Arab-Americans sit in the back of my bus?

            Or should State & Federal nondiscrimination laws be observed and enforced?

            1. “Or should State & Federal nondiscrimination laws be observed and enforced?”

              You should first focus on understanding them.

      3. Some of us are individualists and thus don’t believe people inherit guilt for things done by people who vaguely lookEd like them, nor do they inherit a right to be proud of their accomplishments. For example, white people can’t extract tithes from black people as a thank you for inventing modern medicine, technology, and almost everything else useful today (which it would only be fair to do if we are expected to give compensation, whether in money or special treatment, to descendants of slaves or other groups).

        If ethnic pride (really, chauvinism) is dumb for white people, it’s dumb for everyone else, and it’s not justice to harm someone because of their race to the benefit of someone else because a similarly hewed person victimized a differently hewed person long ago. Once you dispense with racial collectivism, your way of thinking ceased to make sense, and until you dispense with it, you have no basis for indignation at white chauvinists who demand you thank acknowledge their superiority because ‘they’ invented vaccines and whatnot.

        1. We are talking about individuals who are disadvantaged today because of the treatment of their ancestors. An individual whose grandparents were denied educational opportunities will be less likely to have parents that went to college and therefore less likely themselves to go. An individual whose grandparents were denied housing loans and supports will be less likely to have parents that inherited the chief source of personal wealth in America, a house, and therefore less likely to have the opportunities that wealth is correlated with. Etc.

          Also, your individualism is robotic and unrealistic to the human experience. Among actual human beings it’s common to have a connection to and hence a ‘pride’ in things like places (where one is from or where one lives), their families, their ancestors, etc.

          1. You are punishing disadvantaged individuals today for the crimes of privileged individuals in the past. A white man with crackhead parents is in the exact same boat you claim requires special consideration, but you’d deny it to him because of the color of his skin. Skin color is just straight up the worst proxy imaginable for the real factors that effect your starting point. If you want to help people who were disadvantaged by their ancestors, then start helping people that have the real disadvantaged. Give an advantage to people with drug addecited parents, give an advantage to those who are the first to go to college, give an advantage to those from broken homes and with childhood wrap sheets. What you need to stop doing is giving an advantage to Obama’s children over the kids from the trailer park and calling it justice.

            1. When, in your judgment, are Trump-loving southern bigots going to ditch their racism?

              When, in your judgment, are Republicans going to ditch their superstition-laced gay-bashing?

              If you want to shatter your credibility by claiming ‘racism and gay-bashing are no longer substantial problems in America,’ be my guest.

            2. The problem is that all groups one might want to give an advantage to will be overinclusive.

            3. “give an advantage to those from broken homes and with childhood wrap sheets.”

              Who you cast as The Mummy makes very little difference, once they’re all wrapped in sheets you can’t hardly tell who’s in there.

      4. What’s changed ‘today’ is that these groups are refuting that treatment, asserting pride in their racial/ethnic identity in response and want to reverse the under-representation in areas that is a result of that past treatment.

        Basing your social treatment of people on something they have no control over…like their genetic heritage…is fundamentally stupid. But it is no more stupid than citing something that you have no control over…like your genetic heritage…as something in which to take “pride”.

        1. “Basing your social treatment of people on something they have no control over…like their genetic heritage…is fundamentally stupid.”

          How about basing your treatment of people on the treatment their ancestors received? Is that stupid?

          “But it is no more stupid than citing something that you have no control over…like your genetic heritage…as something in which to take “pride”.”

          Is it stupid to take pride in your family? Your parents, grandparents, etc? You’ve no control over who they are. How about pride regarding a region, say where you’re born or raised? Also, I don’t think most current practitioners of racial/ethnic pride are basing that pride on genetics, they’re pretty big believers that race is a social construct. They’re basing that pride on culture more than anything else.

          1. How about basing your treatment of people on the treatment their ancestors received? Is that stupid?

            For the most part, yes. But you’re trying to change the subject.

            Is it stupid to take pride in your family? Your parents, grandparents, etc? You’ve no control over who they are. How about pride regarding a region, say where you’re born or raised?

            It is utterly meaningless to be “proud” of something over/on which you have zero control or input. I take pride in the children that I raised, the work that I do and a number of other things that I have/had a hand in. I take no pride…nor feel shame…in my ancestry.

            Also, I don’t think most current practitioners of racial/ethnic pride are basing that pride on genetics, they’re pretty big believers that race is a social construct.

            And yet even the allegedly “social construct” of race is entirely based on genetic factors. Don’t use “race” and “ethnicity” as though they’re interchangeable…because they’re not. Race is one particular type of ethnicity, but so are religion, nationality, culture, etc.

            They’re basing that pride on culture more than anything else.

            Bullshit.

            1. So let me get this straight: you think all the people that take a pride (or maybe affinity is a better word if you’re getting tripped up by a narrow idea of ‘pride’) in their ancestors, or birthplace, or place they were raised or schools they went to (as minors), or nation they were born in, religion they were born into, etc, these people are all stupid? Well, maybe they all are and you’re just a very special person who has overcome that mass stupidity by your special wisdom. Or maybe you’re just a very odd duck.

              “They’re basing that pride on culture more than anything else.

              Bullshit.”

              What, you think when someone says ‘black pride’ they’re talking about how awesome their chromosomes are? I think it more likely it’s a way of saying ‘people like me actually have and can, contrary to the massive stereotypes, do awesome things.’

              1. So let me get this straight

                That would certainly make for a nice change. However, based on your track record I have absolutely not confidence in your ability to do so.

                you think all the people that take a pride

                I have no idea what it means to “take a pride”. Are you referring to stealing a group of lions?

                (or maybe affinity is a better word if you’re getting tripped up by a narrow idea of ‘pride’)

                I’m not getting tripped up by anything. “Pride” has a pretty well-defined set of meanings, none of which make sense when applied to one’s genetic heritage. “Affinity” at least makes sense, but is a rather pointless thing to declare in this context. Perhaps the problem here is your piss-poor grasp of English.

                What, you think when someone says ‘black pride’ they’re talking about how awesome their chromosomes are?

                That’s what makes one “black” (unless you’re relying on Joe Biden, Bill Maher or other white liberals/celebrities to tell you who is/isn’t black), as well as determining their “racial” heritage. Or are you asserting that Rachel Dolezal actually is “black” simply because she decided to claim she is?

                I think it more likely it’s a way of saying ‘people like me actually have and can, contrary to the massive stereotypes, do awesome things.’

                And what exactly does “people like me” mean when referring to “black pride”?

                1. “I’m not getting tripped up by anything.”

                  An odd claim, since it follows directly your previous claim that “I have no idea what it means to ‘take a pride’.”

                  Coherence just isn’t your thing.

                2. ” Perhaps the problem here is your piss-poor grasp of English.”

                  Or yours.

                  1. Or yours.

                    You’re the one who doesn’t understand what it means to be “tripped up”. Is making yourself look like an idiot just a hobby for you, or have you figured out a way to get paid for it?

                    1. “You’re the one who doesn’t understand what it means to be “tripped up”.”

                      You’re the one who couldn’t successfully use the phrase in a sentence. You got tripped up, and then denied being tripped up, and got caught.

                      ” Is making yourself look like an idiot just a hobby for you, or have you figured out a way to get paid for it?”
                      Tell me how much YOU get paid, and I’ll think about giving it a try.

        2. ” it is no more stupid than citing something that you have no control over…like your genetic heritage…as something in which to take ‘pride’.”

          As the noted American philosopher Popeye once said: “I yam what I yam”.

    5. for a large group of people today, racial/ethnic identity is all that matters.

      This is true, of course, but don’t forget that this includes a lot of white right-wingers. And don’t forget also that this is not a new development. What do you think mattered to segregationists?

      1. Who are these alleged “white right-wingers” of whom you speak?

        President Trump — and the “often libertarians” at the Volokh Conspiracy — want to know . . . and demand that you be put to your proof!

      2. This is true, of course, but don’t forget that this includes a lot of white right-wingers. And don’t forget also that this is not a new development.

        That depends on your subjective definition of “a lot”. I’d bet real money that it matters to FAR fewer on the right these days than on the left. But in any event, I’m not sure what your point is.

        What do you think mattered to segregationists?

        Note he said “people today”.

        1. ” I’d bet real money that it matters to FAR fewer on the right these days than on the left.”

          Running into a lot of Bernie Bros at your Klan rallies, are you?

          1. at your Klan rallies

            Have you stopped molesting young children yet?

            1. You still trying to find a buyer for yours?

    6. “Assume for the sake of argument that Cleopatra and Gadot are from two wholly different racial/ethnic categories. Why should that matter?”

      If we talking about a Batman or James Bond or Star Wars movies, racial/ethnic casting does not matter in the least. I like the casts of such movies to be varied and diverse,

      But if we are talking a serious movie about the life of Cleopatra VII, I think she should be played by an actresses who can pass for a tanned Macedonian princess of the First Century BCE. To be honest, I think Gadot looks far too attractive to pass for Cleopatra. I suspect much of the historical Cleopatra came from her being the richest woman in the world, able to raise and maintain armies in support of any man capable of winning her affection.

      I do not want to see Cleopatra depicted as the tragic, wronged heroine. The favorite Ptolemaic pastimes seem to have been murdering and/or marrying close family members, and she played these games well. She walked across a lot of bodies over the course of her life. She was a remarkable and interesting human being, but not a very sympathetic one.

      1. Is it supposed to be a doctoral dissertation or entertainment?

        As to Godot, she’s way too athletic & physically fit to portray a woman of that era. Physical fitness, even for men, is a relatively new thing. Kinesiology didn’t even exist until the 19th Century and the concept of an athletic woman didn’t arrive before the 1970’s.

        Look at women’s tennis or golf circa 1920 — enough said?

        So this will be a “based on” movie. And?

        1. “As to Godot, she’s way too athletic & physically fit to portray a woman of that era.”

          She looks nothing like Elizabeth Taylor, either, FWIW.

      2. “I think Gadot looks far too attractive to pass for Cleopatra.” The goal is to make a movie that sells.

        1. And that entertains — it’s called the “entertainment” industry, not the “social justice” industry.

          1. Some measure of historical accuracy is ““social justice?” Who knew?

            Why can’t movies depicting historical events be entertaining? Ever see Glory? Or Apollo 13? Or Das Boot? All movies that entertained while teaching history. Yeah, no film can flawless recreate the past, but these moves do strive for historical accuracy.

            If we are going to see, say, Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, we know not to expect any real effort at historical accuracy. Historical accuracy was not Shakespeare’s goal. Gadot or Charlize Theron or RuPaul could perfectly play the role. But should film makers desire to show the past as accurately as possible, well, perhaps casting might be a bit more selective.

            Consider two well-received and much loved WW II movies, Inglourious Basterds and Valkyrie. Had Gadot replaced Brad Pitt as the Bastards’ CO, I think the story would still be great. But had she played the part of von Stauffenberg, Valkyrie would have suffered.

            Of course we know far too little of Cleopatra to perfectly recreate her life on screen. But we can attempt to portray the politics, the people, the rulers of that era with some small measure of verisimilitude.

  2. Wait until they learn that Orson Welles wasn’t black when he played Othell.

      1. Oh. I see what you did there.

    1. Yes, we know. Neither was Patrick Stewart.

      1. Neither does Patrick Stewart have mutant powers, despite having been cast as an X-Man.

        Patrick Stewart was also in Dune, which cast 43-year-old Sting as a 16-year-old character.

        1. Sting was 33 years old when he played Feyd-Rautha.

        2. Sting (b. 1951) was about 33 when Dune was released (1984).

  3. Remember the controversy when Halle Berry played Snow White?

    1. When did that happen?

      I am familiar with the controversy around Halle Bailey being cast as Ariel for the live action Little Mermaid. Critics used the hashtag #notmyAriel. So there are people who vocally oppose black people taking the lead role in fairy tales.

      1. I actually thought the Snow White thing was something I made up. I forgot about the Ariel thing.

      2. Halle Berry as Ariel? What, 30 years ago?

        Oh, Halle Bailey, never heard of her. I thought Lollius’ post was a typo. All of these Disney remakes are great (yet to be as good as the originals) but that nostalgia factor…

      3. Joanna Garcia was cast as Ariel in Once Upon a Time.

  4. Are most Egyptians today really ethnic Arabs? The (few) Egyptians I know make no such claim. All Iranians I know claim to be Persians. If I remember correctly the idea of Egyptians being Arabs originated with the attempted establishment of a pan-arab country by an Egyptian. Of course I may be wrong.

    1. I’d like to know this as well. As the article points out, the Copts are the native people of Egypt, and there’s still a small Coptic Christian community in Egypt, but do muslim Egyptians identify as ethnically coptic?

      1. Muslim Egyptians don’t identify as “ethnically Coptic” because “Coptic” has, for the past few centuries, referred specifically to that Christian community. Coptic Christianity in Egypt is now an ethnoreligious community, which means you can’t convert or marry in or out. Also, Coptic liturgy is (as far as I know) conducted exclusively in Coptic.

        In the rest of the Arab world, with churches claiming to be the inheritors of the patriarchate of Antioch, Christianity didn’t become so isolated. There has been intermarriage. Arabic has been incorporated into liturgy in varying degrees for over a millennium.

        Incidentally, the “small” Coptic Christian community still numbers about 10 percent of the country’s population. Sectarian violence against Copts has been exceptional and shocked the Egyptian Muslim mainstream. It threatens the foundations of Egypt as a secular state.

    2. “Arab” is a cultural/linguistic thing. Most Egyptians speak Arabic and are culturally Arab.
      Iran, on the other hand, has never been Arab at all.

    3. I am not sure what “really ethnic Arabs” means.

      Egypt is officially the “Arab Republic of Egypt” so there is a political statement.

      Practically all Egyptians speak Arabic. Many (certainly not all) of the cultural traditions of Egypt are shared with or at least comprehensible to other Arabic-speaking Middle Easterners because of shared history; e.g., the common experience of Islamic dominance and Ottoman rule.

      It is true that, in antiquity, the term “Arab” used to be used to refer to a more restricted group of people living in the Arabian peninsula. We speak of a process of Arabization of much of the Middle East and North Africa that accompanied the fall of the classical empires and the spread of Islam. Islam spread much wider, but Arabic became the common language in a somewhat restricted area whose inhabitants are Arabs.

      Whether a given Arabic-speaking inhabitant of Egypt will identify as “Arab,” “Egyptian,” neither, or both can be pretty complicated. Let me suggest that for most purposes, the identification with a particular state is more appropriate. This is similar to how people from Latin or South America tend to prefer a national identity (“I am Guatemalan” or “My family is from Chile”) to an “ethnic” identity which is typically ascribed (“But you’re Hispanic, right?” or “That’s Latino, isn’t it?”). Same story for Asians: that rarely a self-identified category.

      The other big category that people will tend to use is religion. Arabs have long adhered to many religions, and while it is hard to separate Arab identity from societies in which Islam is a major presence, there have long been non-Islamic Arabs and indeed everyone recognizes there were pre-Islamic Arabs.

      The promotion of “Arab” as a primary identity, before a specific nation or religion, is (as you suggest) bound up with Pan-Arabism. This was the view that all Arabs are a single nationality who should live in a single state governed by themselves, and this state should be secular in orientation even though it would inevitably have a Muslim majority. In Egypt, Pan-Arabism found its expression in Nasserism.

      Iran is quite different because Iran is the single ethnostate of the Persians, though Iran contains non-Persian minorities and Persians live outside Iran.

  5. Why would Gadot take this career ending role? It is a very boring story, but told a thousand ways, boring and insufferable even in the hands of great literary masters. The real one was also an ugly, and annoying skank. Even the wankers in this group would not want her as a girlfriend. Then she is suicidal. Ugly, annoying, and mentally ill. Let’s spend $100 million to tell her story.

    One proof of rapid human evolution is the increasing fraction of good looking, chesty women. They tend to have more children. Walk around a mall today. Then, look at portraits of “beautiful” women of the past. One concludes 90% would be unfortunate double baggers today, even Viking women.

    1. It would only be career ending is if she portrayed someone the Chinese government disapproved of.

      1. Touche. Tired of these tech billionaire, traitor collaborators with the Chinese Communist Party. Seize their assets in civil forfeiture for the billions of federal crimes on their platforms each year. Then auction them off like the Ferrari of a drug dealer.

        1. HEY! I thought you only hated lawyers.

          1. I love lawyers. I am their best friend. Why would I put in time and effort on people I hate? I don’t hate the tech billionaires. They earned every penny they have made. They are just conducting open warfare on our nation to cater to the Chinese Communist Party, to enrich themselves in their market.

        2. Somehow, they never auction off the Ferraris; they keep them for ‘undercover work’, and then have to drive them around town ‘to establish a presence’ and oh by the way, get off on it.

          1. I defer to your greater knowledge. Cannot enjoy shares of a company recorded on a server. They should sell the tech billionaire assets after seizing them.

        3. “Touche. Tired of these tech billionaire, traitor collaborators with the Chinese Communist Party.”

          Take your complaint directly to Larry Ellison.

    2. “One proof of rapid human evolution is the increasing fraction of good looking, chesty women”

      That’s more a factor of both better nutrition and the introduction of labor-saving devices, including both refrigeration and electricity.

    3. “The real one was also an ugly, and annoying skank.”

      Ubi eras?

    4. “One proof of rapid human evolution is the increasing fraction of good looking, chesty women.”

      That’s not evolution. That’s skill in the cosmetic surgery industry.

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    1. Lauren. How can make $84000 a year too? Tell me a lot more.

      1. Get most any tech job.
        Get a trade and work it for 5 to 7 years. (no college debt this way)
        Be a politician for 2 days.
        Lots of ways.

        1. “Get most any tech job.”

          Not any more. There are enough qualified candidates now that businesses don’t have to pay ridiculous salaries to get tech professionals. When the tech boom started, most adults were afraid of computers and avoided them, leaving good opportunities for people who could actually understand them. Now, every schoolchild has experience using computers to accomplish tasks and more of them understand how things work. That, plus the fact that businesses have been generally successful in hiring tech professionals from all over the world.

          1. More the latter.

            I never cease to be amazed at how *little* Millennials know about how computers work.

            1. Whereas you never seem to be amazed at how little YOU know about how computers work.

      2. You’re off by an order of magnitude. $848254 is a bit more than $84000. (it’s not a rounding error.)

  7. Prof. Volokh, as much as I’d like to read Jacoby’s piece, I’m not going to subscribe to that piece of junk, the Boston Globe, to do so. And as far as I can tell, that’s the only way to read the whole article. I imagine you get some kind of free subscription for professors, or something?

  8. Funny how nobody objected when the Egyptian Omar Sharif played the Russian Yuri Zhivago, the Argentine Che Guevara, or the Jewish-American Nicky Arnstein. Maybe it’s because it’s called “acting.”

    1. Genghis Kahn, Sohaemus, Agent Cedric, …

      1. “Genghis Kahn”

        There he goes, playing Jews again.

  9. Pure anti-semitism. Anyone who opposes this casting is a Nazi.

    NEVER AGAIN!

  10. A sixth-generation Israeli? There is no such thing, since Israel as a nation-state has only existed since 1948. We understand what’s meant, a sixth-generation Jewish resident of what is today Israel. There ought to be a better way of saying it, but I admit I don’t know what it is.

    1. Sixth generation Sabra.

    2. “A sixth-generation Israeli? There is no such thing, since Israel as a nation-state has only existed since 1948.”

      Unless you remember who was running the place when the Romans came in and took over.

  11. I noticed he speaks as if Arabs are not Middle Eastern and don’t share DNA. Also he would do well in taking a look at the current DNA archaelogical evidence from back then, it is not 100% because it relies on the DNA viable samples from the time and may not represent all sides of society, but the scientists are aware of this. It is way better than relying on anecdotal historical evidence like he did there.

  12. The outrage over Ms. Gadot being cast as Cleopatra reminds me of the people who want to save the wild horses in the American West because they ran wild and free there before humans came to North America.

    1. Which explains how “the people who were here before the europeans” had to go south and steal the Spanish horses?

  13. It’s just leftie outrage on the internet. It’s easy to ignore but it’s fun to troll them. They have no sense of humor.

    1. “It’s just leftie outrage on the internet. It’s easy to ignore but it’s fun to troll them.”

      Not unlike the righties’ outrage. usually better to just ignore it, and watch them sputter.

  14. Is this an Israeli/Arab thing, or a Black/White one? Several years ago, a grave site was found of someone who was believed to be Cleopatra’s half sister, killed, as competition, by Cleopatra and her brother. This half sister appeared to be maybe 40% Numidian (Black). The interesting thing is that there being somewhat a superficial similarity of her reconstructed head with Gadot’s.

    1. “This half sister appeared to be maybe 40% Numidian (Black).”

      The Neimoidians were fictional creations of the Star Wars prequels. They aren’t black, but they sure would stand out in Egypt.

  15. I first noticed this when some really unwise and unlearned college students protested “Boys Don’t Cry”, a landmark movie about how we need to accept and welcome trans teens, because its lead was played by a straight cis actress (who was so good in the role she won an Oscar and later won a second one). You see, Hollywood was required to hire one of the trans- male actors (were there any?) for the role.

    People have taken a rule that was originally about blackface- don’t dress up as members of a minority group and mock them!- and turned it into a stupid, inflexible rule about casting that denies the entire history of actors playing people who weren’t like them.

    1. I’m thinking of all the gay male actors who played straight men only to be outed by AIDS. Should LBGTB actors/actresses be restricted to LBGTB roles?

      1. It is based on intersectionality points. You can’t play anyone higher on the victim matrix than you.

      2. “I’m thinking of all the gay male actors who played straight men”

        If they convinced you they were straight, then they must have been pretty good actors.

      3. and women who played women pretending to be gay men who impersonate women

        1. And don’t forget about the women who played little boys who refused to grow up and could fly all the way to Neverland.

    2. “turned it into a stupid, inflexible rule about casting that denies the entire history of actors playing people who weren’t like them”

      People who use “cis” shouldn’t complain about stupidity.

      1. what do you have against biochemists?

  16. DavidBehar is loving lawyers.
    Dr. Ed is “thinking of all the gay male actors”.
    What the heck is going on here today?!

  17. “But leave all that aside. Assume for the sake of argument that Cleopatra and Gadot are from two wholly different racial/ethnic categories. Why should that matter? …”

    Hollywood has a history of not employing minorities in acting roles. This obviously means that minority actors are unlikely to be cast in roles written for a white performer, and includes the fact that few roles are not written for white performers. this leaves the minorities actors scrambling to find enough work, because there are few roles created that they can be cast in. Now, take one of the few roles written for a non-white performer, and cast a white actor in that role, and the non-white actors have a reason to complain, and so do supporters of non-white communities. This is why there were complaints about casting Johnny Depp as Tonto in the last Lone Ranger movie, and about casting Liam Neeson as Ra’s al-Ghul in the Dark Knight trilogy, and all the white folks in The Last Airbender.

  18. One thing most people who aren’t historians don’t understand is how messily modern conceptions of race and ethnicity map onto anyone from more than 500 years ago.

    Race is a modern invention, as is nationalism – the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes wouldn’t have thought of themselves as bonded by a common race, and someone in 10th century Wessex would have most likely identified with their locale or region before they thought of themselves as “English.” They likely wouldn’t have cared about skin color, except as a convenient physical descriptor of a person or group.

    By the time we are as far back as Cleopatra and the post-Ptolemaic Egyptians, who knows what skin color Cleopatra was? Who knows whether it’s more fitting that she be Greek, Macedonian, upper Nile Egyptian, lower Nile Egyptian, or someone else? Even someone who faithfully thought that such distinctions applied historically would not be able to give a high-confidence explanation of her race and ethnicity.

    So, as someone who thinks that the casting in a film like Hidden Figures ought to stick to the races of the people involved (since racism is a theme of the film, and racial representation is necessary to make that theme coherent), casting Cleopatra is a nontroversy.

    1. “By the time we are as far back as Cleopatra and the post-Ptolemaic Egyptians, who knows what skin color Cleopatra was?”

      You could look at the portraits they painted, although how well the pigments have held up is open to debate.

      1. although how well the pigments have held up is open to debate.

        As is how accurate those pigments were to begin with. Egyptian art of the time is known for a lot of things, but life-like accurate depictions of people and animals isn’t one of them. It’s also unlikely that any depictions of the queen of Egypt…who had living-god status…created by Egyptian artists of her day would be anything other than idealized images.

        1. Who can forget the way she looked when she rode down that escalator to announce her candidacy for queen of Egypt.

      2. According to the portraits the Egyptians painted, their race was “Simpson.”

        1. Best comment on the internet today!

    2. “who knows what skin color Cleopatra was?”

      If she differed from the standard Greco-Roman-Phonecian coloring, Augustinian Roman propaganda would have said so.

      Romans knew what blacks looked like.

      1. Romans likely wouldn’t have cared if she were black, because “black” as a racial category didn’t exist back then, and there was no stigma against darker skin. (They didn’t know what “blacks” look like just as they didn’t know what an airplane or a continental plate looks like – these weren’t in their conceptual wheelhouse.)
        Nor would being Aetheopian (the closest comparative term to what we mean by “black,” albeit specific to a single country / region rather than a racial type) have been a big deal, except insofar as Cleopatra not being Egyptian / Greek would have been a big deal. So it’s hard to read much into the omission of her skin tone, even if it were most likely a Mediterranean hue (which had a broad range of possible tones).

        One bigger point of propaganda was to emphasize how she (and by extension Marc Antony) were not Roman. That was primarily a political and cultural point, not a biological or racial one.

        1. ““black” as a racial category didn’t exist back then”

          Sorry, this is historical revisionism contrasting our hangups with the “more tolerant” societies that came before us.

          Romans knew what Nubians [and other Africans] looked like. They knew how to draw pictures of dark skinned people, there are numerous examples.

          If she looked at all like one, it would have been commented on/shown in illustrations to show “Cleopatra not being Egyptian / Greek”.

          1. “Romans knew what Nubians [and other Africans] looked like. ”

            Yeah, but Nubians are white.

            1. What color are revisionists?

    3. By the time we are as far back as Cleopatra and the post-Ptolemaic Egyptians, who knows what skin color Cleopatra was?

      Well, for Egyptians of that period, we have ancestry, history, descriptions, depictions, skin samples, and genetics. We also have the genetic makeup of modern Egyptians. We can say with a high degree of certainty that Cleopatra was Greek, not sub-Saharan, in appearance.

  19. Weren’t There Macedonian Actresses Who Had Been Having Affairs with Italians Who Could Be Cast in the Role?

    A rare instance where the rule about headlines with question marks is likely false.

    1. How do you figure? Because of the noted chastity of Italian actors?

      1. I thought the rule was that headlines with question marks were false—meaning the question mark negated the thesis. Hence, any likelihood that Macedonian actresses might actually be found who had affairs with Italian actors would disprove the rule. Did I get it wrong?

        I should mention that my own experience with Macedonian actresses has not led me to believe they are adverse to affairs. Or in favor of them, either.

  20. This race based casting only works one way. Blacks can be cast in Regency high society (“Bridgerton”), as Queen Guinevere (“Merlin”) and as Founding Fathers (“Hamilton”).

  21. Are these complaints from the same people that lined up to pay big $$$ to see Hamilton several times, with a Latino as Hamilton and an African-American as Aaron Burr?

  22. Racial casting was never meant to mean actors/actresses on the screen were historically accurate portrayals of their roles. It was just meant to serve as a proxy for “hire more black people…” Here the left thought, Egypt = Africa = Black people live in Africa = Black person role. Nothing more needs to be thought or written.

    1. ” Here the left thought, Egypt = Africa = Black people live in Africa = Black person role. Nothing more needs to be thought or written.”

      You seem to be substituting your own mental process. Labeling it “the left” isn’t fooling anybody.

  23. Should they hire an actress from the Macedonian province of Greece, or from the country of North Macedonia?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Macedonia#Naming_dispute

    1. Doesn’t matter, Alexander ruled both.

      1. You don’t say.

        1. and he’s dead now.

  24. Might as well ask why it matters whether a Palestinian marries an Israeli.

  25. Racists of a certain stripe think that they can somehow claim Egyptian civilization for themselves; you can see that in Egyptian names like “Ta-Nehisi” given to people of West African origin.

    1. “Racists of a certain stripe think that they can somehow claim Egyptian civilization for themselves”

      I am a human and I claim that all of the achievements of Egyption civilization were carried out by humans. all those “aliens did it all” wackos can go get probed.

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