So the left still doesn’t get it.Â Vice-President-elect Mike Pence got an unexpected and unsolicited public lecture from the cast of the hit musical “Hamilton” (how did he manage to get the tickets? why would he want to get the tickets?) and the shit hit the fan. Donald Trump jumped into to defend his deputy (not that Pence needs anyone to defend him) and demanded an apology from the cast, in the words of The New York Times “setting off furious debate over American principles like free speech, respect and the ability to challenge authority in the Trump era.” (by the way, now that Trump has been elected, could someone please take his Twitter account away from him, so he can concentrate on more important things? His thin skinned and very reactive, whiney and borderline abusive online persona no doubt was part of his appeal to the base, but the President should maintain more detachment and more dignity than mouthing off and then deleting his ill-thought out tweets. Leave the Twitter for serious business and leave the hatchet work to the numerous surrogates.)
Let me start by saying that of course the cast of a musical have the right of free speech to address an audience member, including a VP-elect. The question is how classy is it to do so? This isn’t, after all, a stand-up comedy act where you engage and put down a heckler. You are addressing an elected official in front of hundreds of witnesses – it’s obviously your intention to convey your message in front of an audience, otherwise you would have easily arranged to have a private meeting to do so (I have no doubt that Pence would have agreed if only asked). Sounds like posturing and virtue signalling to me.
This by the way, is the appeal in full:
â€œYou know, we have a guest in the audience this evening â€” Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out but I hope you hear just a few more moments,â€ [the actor playing VP Aaron Burr] Mr. Dixon said. As some in the audience booed, Mr. Dixon hushed them, then added, â€œSir, we hope that you will hear us out.â€
â€œWe, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us â€” our planet, our children, our parents â€” 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.â€
Everyone wants Presidents to â€œuphold our American valuesâ€ and â€œwork on behalf of all of usâ€, Â even me, and I’m not even an American. But had Hillary been elected she would not be likewise lectured. Only the Republicans are presumed not to uphold American values and not to work on behalf of all the people, hence in an urgent need of a very public appeal.
The “Hamilton” cast seems to have been genuinely taken aback that anyone would question their actions. It does not occur to them that people out there are tired of being hectored and lectured from the supposed moral high ground, particularly by the celebrated artists from the most celebrated cultural event in recent history, and particularly one where white actors were told not to apply. It does not occur to them that this is in fact one of the main reasons why Trump and Pence got elected. And it does not occur to them that continuing to do so is likely to just increase Trumpence’s popularity.