By De Elizabeth
It’s hard to believe that the following sentence isn’t made up, but here we go: The president-elect of the United States is currently engaging in a Twitter feud with the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. In case you’ve been living under a proverbial rock for the past 24 hours, we’ll recap for you:
VP-elect Mike Pence went to see the Friday night production of Hamilton a few days ago. While there, he was met with boos (and some cheers) from the audience.
After the show, as Pence was getting ready to leave, the cast came out with a message for the VP-elect. Actor Brandon Victor Dixon delivered the message, speaking directly to Pence.
After Brandon announced Pence’s name, the audience began booing again, to which Brandon said, “There’s nothing to boo, ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing to boo. We’re all here sharing a story of love.” Brandon went on to say, “Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical. We truly do. We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us: our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”
In the days since, Trump has taken to Twitter, not once, not twice, not thrice, but FOUR TIMES to call out the cast for their comments. The third tweet, which was originally posted last night, has since been deleted.
Needless to say, there’s been a lot of response online to the fact that the president-elect of our country is choosing to engage in a social media spat with a Tony Award-winning musical instead of, idk, working on policy? Many are also pointing out that Trump used his Twitter to call out Hamilton several times, but there’s been complete silence when it comes to denouncing all the hate crimes done in his name.
There’s an emerging narrative from this whole drama that this is a “distraction,” that we should ignore these petty tweets and not lose sight of the fact that Trump just settled a $25 million lawsuit and is appointing actual white supremacists to his administration. And we definitely should not forget about those things. In fact, we need to keep talking about both of those points, and we need to keep calling our congressmen and voicing our outrage over the people Trump is choosing to help him lead the country.
But we also should not ignore the Hamilton story. Here’s why:
Trump is straight-up lying.
Trump’s continued twisted truth and blatant lies are a huge issue. He lied throughout the campaign, allowing his supporters to believe completely false facts. This is no different. In his words, “Mike Pence was harassed” by “the cast of Hamilton.” This is simply untrue. You only needs to listen to the recording of Brandon Victor Dixon speaking once to realize that it is not true. In fact, Pence even said that he wasn’t offended. Brandon called Pence “sir.” He expressed that many people were worried and scared. He asked him to be a leader for all the people. That is not harassment. But do you know what is? Grabbing women by the pussy.
He’s attacking freedom of speech.
There is nothing illegal, violent, or questionable about what Brandon did on Friday night. He gave a speech after the show. He was, by all definitions, polite – but even if he wasn’t, Trump still shouldn’t be calling him out. Yes, even if Brandon’s speech was laden with f-bombs, he would have still been within his rights as a person living in this country. The President of the United States is attacking a person for simply speaking. This isn’t just alarming, this isn’t just worrisome, this is terrifying.
Let’s talk about Mike Pence.
Regardless of whether or not you feel it was appropriate for theatergoers to boo Pence, let’s remember why they did. Pence believes in conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people. He also has publicly said, “I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.” Pence is scary, and let us never forget that.
This whole drama is a sad reminder of what we have now.
Remember when Michelle Obama went to see Hamilton and called it “the best piece of art in any form that I’ve ever seen in my life?” Our president is calling this revolutionary musical (and it is, for so many reasons), “underrated.” It’s just depressing.
It’s also a grave reminder of how Trump is going to lead.
Trump will use his Twitter to feud with anyone who offends him in any way. This shouldn’t be surprising anymore. He won’t use social media to denounce hate crimes, but he will take time at 6 in the morning to call a Broadway musical “underrated.” Or argue with the New York Times. Or literally anyone else who he feels personally offended by. We’re in for the long haul with this, and it’s good if we get angry each and every time. We shouldn’t ever get “used” to this.
Most importantly, this reminds us: we need to do more.
Personally speaking, when I saw Trump’s tweets, my first instinct was to quote the tweet and then write something witty. And that’s fine – that’s what those hashtags are for. But we have to do more than react on social media, because this is going to happen over and over and over and over for the next four years. Our tweets and our think pieces in a vacuum of like-minded people will only get us so far, and retweets and likes aren’t going to change the state of our country. So here are some things you can do after you’re done hashtagging:
1. Donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDs.
2. Keep calling your congressmen.
3. Donate to the ACLU.
4. Donate to Planned Parenthood.
5. Keep. Paying. Attention.
Nothing that happens is a distraction – everything matters. We have to keep our eyes open, we have to keep fighting. We can’t throw away our shot.