Et Tu, Bank of America? Phony 'Julius Caesar' Scandal Exposes the Craven Stupidity of Our Corporations

The New York Public Theater is facing a firestorm of criticism from the right for its decision to cast actor Gregg Henry—who bears a close resemblance to  Donald Trump—as Julius Caesar in its latest production of Shakespeare's eponymous play. 

Fox News has dubbed the production—in which Caesar is assassinated—an assault on the president himself, the themes and messaging of the play be damned. Oskar Eustis, director of the play and artistic director of the Public Theater, defended the production in an online statement.

“Julius Caesar can be read as a warning parable to those who try to fight for democracy by undemocratic means,” Eustis wrote. “To fight the tyrant does not mean imitating him.”

Reports of the play and its subsequent right-wing backlash began surfacing on social media Sunday and were mainly facilitated by Donald Trump Jr., who asked what companies were funding the production.

Amid a flurry of angry messages, two of the Public Theater’s corporate sponsors, Delta Airlines and Bank of America, announced that they would be withdrawing support from the production. In a statement Sunday, Delta said it would pull its funding of the Public Theater. Bank of America then announced it would no longer fund the production of the Shakespeare play, but would retain support of the theater group.

Some find the withdrawal of support by Bank of America ironic, given the company’s past and present business dealings. 

This past year, Bank of America has come under fire from indigenous people and environmental activists for its investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to the website food and water watch, Bank of America has invested roughly $350 million into the pipeline, which was fast-tracked by Trump in January and has just begun pumping oil across four states.

This is not the first time the bank has supported anti-environmental projects; the company also faced widespread criticism a few years ago for its investment in the coal mining industry. According to the nonprofit Rainforest Action Network, Bank of America poured $3.92 billion into coal mining companies, $10.85 billion into coal power companies and $24.85 billion into the extreme oil industry. And despite the bank’s announcement last year that it would shrink its carbon footprint and move toward clean energy, BofA is still funneling money into oil and gas companies.

If that weren't enough, Bank of America also has a stake in the private prison industry. A January 2017 report from the policy organization In the Public Interest shows that Bank of America is one of the top investors of the industry’s leading companies, the Corrections Corporation of America and GEO. According to the report, Bank of America has extended a $132.5 million line of credit to CCA. The report also finds that Bank of America is the “administrative agent, swingline lender, and issuing lender for the syndicate of banks that has extended a $900 million line of revolving credit to CCA.” Bank of America is also part of a syndicate of banks that has a $900 million line of revolving credit to GEO.

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