Ten Little Litigants

, Dave Almasi, Leave a comment

Washington, D.C. – The Lakota East High School
dramatic production of the Agatha Christie novel Ten Little Indians—initially cancelled by school administrators after it was called racially
insensitive by a local NAACP leader—is back on, but with changes that
imply the play will be compromised by political

Members of the Project 21 black leadership network
call the actions of Butler County NAACP president Gary Hines inappropriate
and detrimental to race relations. They say it presents the appearance of
a shakedown of the southwestern Ohio school system. They are also critical
of school officials for buckling under pressure from Hines.

this era of unprecedented equality, and particularly when it affects
impressionable and innocent young people, Gary Hines is stirring the pot
of racial animosity with a pretty big spoon,” said Project 21 fellow
Deneen Borelli. “It appears he whipped up a controversy that may generate
business for him. Some people would call that a shakedown.”

Lakota students worked for months to produce the play “Ten Little
Indians,” which the Educational Theatre Association says is one of the top
25 plays produced by high schools nationwide. Based on the Agatha Christie
novel of the same name, it is a murder mystery about a killer stalking a
group of strangers trapped on an island. The killer knocks over Indian
figurines after a murder is committed.

When it was first published
in England in 1939, the title used the “n-word” instead of Indian, and the
original English book cover had black figures on it. The American version,
first published in 1940, as always used the term “Indian.” The stage
version is sometimes titled “And Then There Were None.”

Hines—the owner of the GPH Consultants diversity training company and a reported
long-time critic of the Lakota Local Schools system—implied he was
going to lead a protest of the play, which was supposed to be performed
this weekend. He told the Cincinnati Enquirer the play is about “genocide”
and that “kids don’t have enough information about diversity.” Referring
to the original name and artwork of the novel published overseas over 70
years ago, he told the Cincinnati Post, “We can’t run away from that.” He
said, however, he would not oppose the play being done by a community or
professional theater group.

Lakota Board of Education president
Joan Powell, referring to Hines’ past criticism of the school system, told
the Enquirer she believed Hines’ financial goals may influence his

Superintendent Mike Taylor today said the play will be
performed next month, but with changes. It will be performed under its
alternative title, contain unspecified additional material and will
feature what the Associated Press describes as “conversations and other
activities” that Taylor said will “honor diversity in the

Also unspecified is any participation by Hines—paid
or unpaid—in the school’s new diversity-related programming.

claim that harm will be caused by students re-creating a 1939 Agatha
Christie novel, via a theatre production, is the height of political
correctness run amuck,” said Project 21 member Joe Hicks. “The trajectory
of this nation’s racial and ethnic relations has produced a radically
altered ethnic and racial landscape. Today, America is the most tolerant
industrial society in the world. The assumption that some imaginary hoops
have to be jumped through to avoid hurting the feelings of some
ultra-sensitive individuals with defined political agendas is simply

Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie added: “This
ridiculous capitulation further compromises what was already a grotesque
abrogation of the students’ creative environment. The Lakota Local Schools
is attempting to straddle the fence of racial intimidation. Those innocent
school children have the right to their creative enterprise without being
subjected to race mongers who are intent on inculcating their condemnable
agendas. Instead of coming down on the side of common sense, the school
district signaled their willingness to support this person’s

David Almasi works with Project 21, which is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research.