Hamilton cast right in addressing Pence; Trump’s reaction was wrong

On Friday, Vice-President elect Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump signs law guaranteeing back pay for federal workers Pence says 'ISIS has been defeated' hours after attack that killed US troops in Syria School where Karen Pence will teach prohibits LGBT students, faculty MORE was met with audience boos while attending a performance of the Broadway musical Hamilton.

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Following the performance, the actor who played Aaron Burr in the play, Brandon Victor Dixon, read a statement on behalf of the show, penned by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, “We welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton, an American Musical. We really do. We, sir, we 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 that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us.”

Miranda was a vocal supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and also regularly stands up for immigrant rights (both legal and undocumented), as well as LGBTQ equality. 

So it is not surprising that he had a message of concern for the Republican Vice-President elect. Both Pence and Trump have taken alt-right policy stances on a variety of issues that can adversely affect marginalized populations in the United States.

However, despite his ideological differences, Miranda was careful to pen the statement in a respectful manner. 

First, voicing key concerns, followed by a message of hope, that Pence and Trump will be inspired to uphold the inalienable rights and values of all people living in the United States during their tenure in the White House.

President-elect Donald J. Trump responded to the statement by tweeting:

Trump supporters have since shared similar sentiments, causing #BoycottHamilton to trend on Twitter. They are describing the statement made by the Hamilton cast as “disrespectful,” “gross,” and “indefensible.”

However, it is unclear what about the statement has incised the President-elect and his supporters. The statement was read in a respectful manner and actually began by the cast members pleading with the audience, “Nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen. Nothing to boo here. We’re all here sharing a story of love.”

Trump’s tweets and the social media messages from his supporters suggest that social spaces and places of entertainment should be devoid of political fervor and that the statement of dissent should have not been read, no matter how carefully worded. 

However, that expectation simply is not reasonable, nor expected from any other presidency. The Obama administration has been met with multiple forms of unconventional dissent, including being booed at a variety of entertainment events. For example, President Obama and his children were booed while attending a college basketball game at University of Maryland and First Lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama memoir has longest run as Amazon's best-seller since 'Fifty Shades of Gray' Man who killed teenager who performed at Obama inauguration sentenced to 84 years in prison December sales cement best-seller status for Michelle Obama's book: report MORE and Dr. Jill Biden were booed at a NASCAR season finale in Miami.  

Ultimately, just like any other venue, people do not check their political ideology at the door when walking into a theater, especially for Hamilton, which was known for rallying in support of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTexas man indicted over allegations he created fraudulent campaign PACs FISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased Pompeo’s Cairo speech more ‘back to the future’ than break with past MORE, even helping register voters outside of the theater.

Moreover, there is a distinction between failing to accept the outcome of an election and dissenting from certain political ideologies and rhetoric. Like every other presidential administration, Trump and Pence will continue to be met with public and opinionated dissent, despite winning the election, because their proposed policies are considered divisive by a large segment of the population.

This freedom for open political discourse is one of the many reasons why our country is great.

Mehlman-Orozco holds a Ph.D. in criminology, law and society from George Mason University, with an expertise in human trafficking. She currently serves as a human trafficking expert witness for criminal cases and her book, “Hidden in Plain Sight: America's Slaves of the New Millennium,” is contracted for publication with Praeger/ABC-Clio. Follow her on Twitter @MehlmanOrozco


 

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