Today there’s a brouhaha over Vice-President Elect Mike Pence attending the Broadway play Hamilton. Hamilton is a musical about the founding father of the same name. A man, ironically enough, who’s sexual scandals, attitudes towards immigrants, and corporatism foreshadow Mr Trump. And he also is responsible for the Electoral College. Almost enough to engender a belief in reincarnation, wot?
One of the trademarks of this musical is not only that they use rap and other very modern styles of music but that the cast is almost entirely made up of minorities. In point of fact, they’ve run ads specifically stating white folk need not apply. There’s also more than a few members of the LGBTQETC community in the cast but, hey, it’s Broadway what did you expect?
So Mr Pence went to the theatre and the audience was displeased enough they booed him repeatedly to the point of interrupting the performance more than once. It seems slightly counterproductive when the issue is the fear that he represents an administration that ignores or disenfranchises minority, immigrant, and sexually different individuals to boo the guy for showing up to a musical put on by and celebrating the same. Logically, it would seem that exposure would be good for him. But what do I know?
The cast put together a statement (more than likely they knew he was coming) and read it out during the curtain call. I’ve read it. It really seems polite and rather benign. They acknowledged his presence and told the crowd Not to boo him but to record what came next and post it. They thanked him for coming, hoped that he enjoyed the performance, and stated they felt they represented a segment of the populace that was fearful of having the work of the Founders undone and their rights removed because of who they are. They wrapped it up by again thanking him and reiterating that he, as VP elect, represented all Americans including those who disagree with him and with whom he disagrees.
Personally, I thought it was well timed, appropriate, tactful and polite. Kind of unifying and bridge building even. I’ve been told it was condescending. I guess that it starts with the acknowledgement that he is leaving the building and a request that he stay and hear them COULD be read that way. More likely, he was leaving the building and they wanted him and the audience to hear their statement.
Maybe people read condescension in them saying we represent a portion of your constituency that is concerned about the future and what you intend. I don’t. I say good on them. You should routinely call out your elected officials and remind them you are concerned, you want to know their plans and you are watching. You have the right to demand a hearing and it is in no way condescending to expect your elected representative to give you one. Of, by, and for the people not the government. And spare me the ‘singling out of an audience member’ schtick. Mr Pence ceased to be a private individual when he won public office. Being called out by his constituency may not be fun but it is part of what he signed up for.
The question was also raised of what would the media’s response have been, society’s response have been if it were President Obama being called out by a cast of a different ethnic and social demographic than himself, as well as politically opposed. Personally? I wouldn’t care. That’s their first amendment prerogative and either the market will support them or trash them. But I do think it’s silly and petty to bring up how the media would respond. Honestly, why bother worrying about if the media would treat the two administrations the same? It is sad that the coverage of such an event if it involved Mr Obama would degenerate into a discussion of innate racism rather than dealing with the issues the speakers were trying to bring up. It’s part of the problem we’re having today. So caught up in the surface and kneejerk offense that we miss the point.
And the cast of Hamilton had a point. The audience was an unruly, unthinking mob who need a primer in manners.
And then I think that maybe it’s not Pence or even Trump. Maybe it’s not unruly mobs or ‘condescending’ casts. Maybe it’s just that we want to be cranky. We want to be angry and offended. We want our turn to be the one hard done by. We’re all having our Chapter 23 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix moment and we need a lecture from Phineas Nigellus.
I’m in no way as smooth and snarky as dear old Phineas but let me put something forward. It’s November, in fact we’re coming up fast on the fourth Thursday. I’m in a little bit of a panic as I’ve done no grocery shopping but… improvisation is often a good thing. Anyway, it’s Thanksgiving. Now, contra the angsty messages about to explode on Facebook and other areas of social media, this is not, in fact, the actual anniversary of the first time the Evil White Man took advantage of the Noble Red Man. It was primarily the day post harvest to celebrate the bounty. It was later established as a national day of thanks for other reasons. (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fdr-establishes-modern-thanksgiving-holiday )
So lets try, just try, to forego the yearly recitals of the Evils of Yesteryear. Nobody who was actually there is still here. Let’s try instead to focus on those who are here. I was at the airport tonight and a lady in a wheel chair dropped her coke. I looked at her, at the coke, at the guy in a uniform who was rapidly going the wrong direction on the moving sidewalk and realized I was it. I was the clean up crew. So I did. And the lady thanked me for my kindness. She said ‘Everyone here has been so kind’ and I stopped and looked at her and said ‘I think the world is generally kind, we just tend to miss it.’ She said ‘Oh but the rhetoric these days…’
I said ‘That just means we need to be sure to be looking for it.’
And we need to be doing it. Be kind. Be Thankful. Be grateful. Listen, Hear. Speak with politeness, respect, and gratitude. Be the clean up crew. Let go of the past offenses—especially the ones that did not occur to you personally. And stop looking for reasons to be offended.
Nobody knows what this administration will bring. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. All of us are afraid we won’t be included, we will be shut out, we will be hurt. All of us feel hard done by, All of us are puffed up popinjays certain that no one has ever experienced what we are feeling and that no one is looking out for us. All of us are watching each other wanting what they have, even if its just a chance to be the victim.
Choose instead to be you. Choose to be kind to one another. Practice a little patience. Try being the one who looks out for others instead of waiting for someone to take care of you. Be brave even though it’s scary out. Laugh. Be truthful and be compassionate. Don’t act like the media is telling you we are supposed to be.
The best opposition is a positive attitude. It really pisses off the bad guys.