Someone told Mike Pence, United States Vice President-Elect, it was a good idea to attend Lin Manuel Miranda’s multi-award winning play Hamilton. They were wrong, they lied, he was scammed. Upon entering the building boos erupted from some members of the audience who were clearly unimpressed with the Indiana Governor, his campaign with running mate Donald Trump, his support of anti-LGBTQIA legislation or heaven forbid- all three. After the final bow, Hamilton lead Brandon Victor Dixon spoke to Mike Pence directly, calling for calm from the audience again booing the embarrassed politician, telling him diverse Americans were “alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us.”
Dixon’s address to Pence was calm, passionate and respectful and yet somehow Donald Trump tweeted Pence was “harassed” and “The theatre must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize.” The irony of Trump's desire for safe spaces isn't lost on me but soon after their leader’s misleading tweets, supporters of the President in waiting created the hashtag #BoycottHamilton and a flash mob has congregated outside the theatre.
As many online have pointed out, boycotting Hamilton will be as effective as me boycotting dinner at Nigel Farage’s house. Both here in Britain since Brexit and in the United States since the election the onus of civility has been placed with those in historically disenfranchised groups (ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQIA, immigrants, those with disabilities). We have been told it was our duty to engage with those who oppose us and because we did not make those who voted to Brexit and for Trump feel comfortable we and our allies are responsible for the results of both the British referendum and the American election. How Sway?
“Rejecting Pie’s argument (in above video) on the basis of identity politics reinforces the basic point this piece of satire was attempting to highlight. By dismissing someone’s vote with labels like racist, sexist, stupid or even straight white male, you’re more likely to lose an argument or an election that might have more easily been won with engagement or debate.”
Tom Walker, BBC 2 This Week
Tom Walker, the actor behind the satirical TV pundit character Jonathan Pie appeared on BBC2’s This Week show to discuss why he has questioned his position with left wing politics because the left have galvanised Trump supporters by applying “offensive” labels to them. In addition to Walker’s statements my long lost love Jon Stewart appeared on the CBS Good Morning Show and encouraged Americans not to view Trump supporters “as a monolith” and that the idea that “anyone who voted for him has to be defined by his rhetoric” was divisive. Both men seek for those who vocally oppose Trump, and Brexit by proxy, to be civil with those are not civil with us. My question is how are the “left” supposed to achieve this feat with those who do not want to listen to us? Why can’t we call a spade a spade by identifying the cause and effect of their actions? Why is it more dangerous to identify someone’s racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, misogynoir than the perpetrator’s acts of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and misogynoir? Could it be Conservatives and Republicans are "sensitive" and "whiney" -words they've used to describe those who speak out? Could it be they are and have always been unwilling to understand what these words mean and how they affect those of use who use them? The audience at last night’s performance of Hamilton expressed themselves through non-violent means by booing Pence and yet despite the fact this man proposed damaging, hateful, anti-gay legislation throughout his career and thought it wise to attend a play with an openly gay, HIV positive lead Javier Munoz, it is somehow the responsibility of the Hamilton cast to apologise? Get the entire fuck out of here with that bullshit. Honestly, truly.
Tom Walker, Jon Stewart, Kanye West (with his ignorant ass) and others of their ilk can afford to be so calm in the face of the reality of a Trump Presidency and a “Hard Brexit”, their privilege allows them the comfort from which to tell those of us without to tone down our rhetoric. They will not be the ones who experience the vehemence of those who in favour of the results from both. While supporters of Trump and Brexit might not be despicable themselves, they are willing to overlook the racism and other hatefulness of their leaders to achieve their goals- this demands addressing. Fathom the level of privilege, unmitigated gall and bold faced audacity it takes to propose legislation, like Mike Pence did, that ensured “federal dollars weren’t given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviour that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus” and walking into a performance of Hamilton.
What Stewart and Walker fail to realise in their idealised version of who’s to blame for the re-emergence of fascism on both sides of The Pond is it is not what, why or how we state facts about racism and other societal ills that angers and antagonises those who voted to Brexit and for Trump, it is the intersection of our mere existence and our occupation of “safe and special spaces” that offends these people. While I am able to understand Trump and Brexit supporters felt ignored by Washington and Westminster, I wholeheartedly reject the notion that we must remain silent about our oppression to appease those who hate us or at the very least can abide with those who do. How abhorrent. If the only way to engage Republicans and Conservatives is by quelling our experiences, their engagement is false and continues to perpetuate the tenets of subjugation that lead us to speak up.
In conclusion I’d like to share with you the following Susan Eraslan’s poem as shared in this thread of tweets.
I would boo Pence in a box.
I would boo Pence with a fox.
I would boo Pence here or there.
I would boo Pence anywhere!
I would boo Pence in a church.
I would boo him from a perch.
I would boo Pence at a wake.
ANYWHERE, I'd boo that snake.
I would boo him at a show.
I would boo him sun or snow.
I would boo him at a mall.
I do not like Mike Pence at all!
I would boo Pence on the phone.
I would boo Pence on my own.
I would boo Pence with a mob.
I would boo Pence at my job.
I would boo Pence at the Met.
I would boo Pence on a jet.
I'd boo him at a fancy ball.
I do not like Mike Pence at all!
PS. To continue to point to the two elections of Obama to the Presidency as evidence of a post-racial America is a false equivalency that fails to recognise neither in 2008 nor in 2012 was he running against someone who so openly, with their chest courted hatefulness. Don’t try it.
Click the heart below so I know you enjoyed the post.
What do you think? Jump in the comments below.
Follow me on Twitter @DanielleDASH.