Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika
by Tony Kushner
Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika Politics Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)
Roy: If you want the smoke and puffery you can listen to Kissinger and Shultz and those guys, but if you want to look at the heart of modern conservatism, you look at me. Everyone else has abandoned the struggle, everything nowadays is just sipping tea with Nixon and Mao, that was disgusting [...] (4.2.2).
Roy hates the fact that conservative administrations have started negotiating with communist countries. Kissinger was Secretary of State under Nixon and helped set up the historical meeting between the president and Chairman Mao of China. Shultz served as Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State and helped to create cooperation between America and the Soviet Union. Roy, on the other hand, gleefully took part in Senator McCarthy's witch-hunt for communists in the 1950s. He thinks these conservatives have really betrayed the right, and all of America, just by sitting down to talk with communists.
Louis: Have you no decency, at long last, sir, have you no decency at all?
Joe: I DON'T KNOW WHO SAID IT! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME! I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU. WHY...
Louis: JOSEPH WELCH, THE ARMY/McCARTHY HEARINGS. Ask ROY. He'll tell you. He knows. He was there. (5.8.39-41)
When Louis learns that Joe is associated with Roy Cohn, the tension over their political differences finally explodes. Louis can't believe Joe hangs out with someone who represents everything Louis despises. Here Louis is referencing a famous moment in American history when someone finally stood up to Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had been leading a witch-hunt for communists in America. Here's a video of the famous moment. Also, check out what Shmoop has to say about McCarthyism.
Belize: But the West Bank should be a homeland for the Palestinians, and the Golan Heights should...
Louis: Well not both the West Bank and the Golan Heights, I mean no one supports Palestinian rights more than I do but...
Belize: Oh yeah right, Louis, like not even the Palestinians are more devoted than... (Epilogue.28-30)
While the end of the play seems to celebrate the political changes in Russia brought about by perestroika, it doesn't pretend that all political differences in the world have been magically healed. By bringing up the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (which has yet to be resolved, even today) the play seems to remind us that there is much, much more work to be done.