Wednesday night, a man attending a performance of Fiddler on the Roof in Baltimore began yelling “Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!” and reportedly gave a Nazi salute during the show’s intermission. Given that Fiddler is about a Jewish family, the outburst caused some in the theater to fear the man, later identified as Anthony M. Derlunas, might be about to go on a shooting spree similar to the one that happened in Pittsburgh. From the Baltimore Sun:
Audience member Rich Scherr said the outburst, which happened during intermission, sparked fears of a shooting like the one in a Pittsburgh synagogue last month that killed 11 people…
“People started running,” Scherr said. “I’ll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, ‘Here we go.’”
Samit Verma was seated in the balcony when he heard shouting and saw a man holding his hand straight up in a Nazi salute, he said in an email Thursday. Ushers rushed over to the man while audience members quickly made their way out of the theater and into the hall, Verma said.
“The people around me appeared to be quite shaken by the incident,” Verma said in the email. “There were some people in tears.”
This clip gives a sense of the near-panic caused by Derlunas’ shouting. To be clear, I would have freaked out too if I’d been there. Yelling something like this in public is crazy and doing it at a performance of a Jewish-themed play is doubly crazy. The instant assumption was that this behavior was “pro-Trump.”
Sick, sad world. A man stands at intermission of tonight’s performance of Fiddler in Baltimore and yells, “Heil Hitler,” along with pro-Trump references. pic.twitter.com/slDcPwF7re
— Rich Scherr (@writerguyRich) November 15, 2018
Lots of people made that same assumption when the story was first reported:
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) November 15, 2018
— New York Post (@nypost) November 15, 2018
This is where we are in the era of Trump. He fans hatred daily. We must all be vigilant to be the voice of light right now.
Man shouts 'Heil Hitler, Heil Trump' during intermission of Baltimore performance of 'Fiddler on the Roof' https://t.co/jkfU4Zs4oF
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) November 15, 2018
Of course Neo-Nazis are disrupting productions of Fiddler on the Roof. There is a 57% rise in anti-semitism. Our President tweets Nazi memes. The new House Minority Leader tweets about evil Jews buying our elections. Both sides aren't good people.
— Mr. Newberger (@jeremynewberger) November 15, 2018
Another one of Donald's deplorables. https://t.co/t2pYOcZyrK
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 16, 2018
You get the picture. But when police interviewed Derlunas, he had a different explanation for his outburst. From the NY Times:
Late Thursday, the Baltimore police identified the man as Anthony M. Derlunas II, 58. According to the police report, Mr. Derlunas said he had been “drinking heavily throughout the night.” He told officers he yelled the slogans because the final scene before intermission reminded him of his hatred for President Trump. According to the officer, Mr. Derlunas went on to say that the anger directed at him after his disruption was an indication of a high number of Mr. Trump’s supporters in the theater. Mr. Derlunas could not be reached for comment.
Here’s a copy of the police report:
BPD identifies man who disrupted Hippodrome theater with Hitler salutes as 58 yr old Anthony Derlunas. Had Harford Co address.
Police report says he said he had been drinking heavily..and scene before intermission "reminded him of his hatred of Donald Trump" pic.twitter.com/oKtDZ2Tl8K
— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) November 15, 2018
Now that the story has shifted, I don’t think anyone is going to claim this guy is representative of everyone on the left or that it was driven by Chuck Schumer or CNN. But that would make just as much sense as blaming Trump did in the first place. Simply put, this drunk dummy is responsible for his own behavior. Why wasn’t that as clear to everyone yesterday as it seems to be today?
Between this and the man attacked in Tucson for wearing a MAGA hat, the left’s climate of hate narrative is having a tough week. The media seems eager to look for incidents that confirm what they see as a pre-existing pattern, but not as interested in incidents which don’t fit that pattern.
Let’s hope the crazies, whatever their motives, can settle down enough that we can all enjoy the weekend and the holiday next week.