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Vice President-elect Mike Pence leaving a performance of "Hamilton" on Friday, November 18. (Photo: Andres Kudacki/AP)

Hamilton vs Trump

César Chelala

“Apologize!” was President elect Donald Trump conclusion of two messages he wrote to the cast of Hamilton, one of the most successful Broadway musicals in recent times. He was thus responding to the incident in which actor Brandon Victor Dixon, that played Vice President Aaron Burr, addressed the audience of the show.

At the end of last Friday’s performance, noting that Vice President-elect Mike Pence was in the audience, he used the opportunity to thank Mr. Pence for attending the show and told him, “We hope you will hear us out.”

And then Dixon added, “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 to work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.”

His words were followed by an enthusiastic applause and the cheers of those in attendance. Although Mr. Pence was leaving the theater as Mr. Dixon began to read his statement, a show spokesman said that Mr. Pence had waited in the hall outside the entrance to the theater and heard the remarks. He made no comment and left the theater.

“Hamilton” is a musical about the progress of Alexander Hamilton from his humble beginnings as an orphan immigrant and then went on to become one of the U.S. Founding Fathers. Hamilton played a major in the American Revolutionary War, and was an influential interpreted and promoter of the U.S. Constitution.

Mr. Trump, amid his heavy schedule of meeting potential candidates for key positions in his administration and using his favorite and, by many accounts, most lethal weapon, Twitted twice before 9 a.m. on Saturday. Trump accused the cast of “Hamilton” of “harassing” Pence with “cameras blazing” and said, “The Theater 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!” Pence had a “0%” rating from the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization.

The incident with the musical brought to my mind a painfully ironic poem by Naomi Lazar. In the poem “Ordinance on Arrival” from her book Ordinances Lazar wrote,

Welcome to you

who have managed to get here.

It’s has been a terrible trip;

You should be happy you have survived it.

Statistics prove that not many do.

You would like a bath, a hot meal,

a good night’s sleep.  Some of you

need medical attention.

None of this is available.

These things have always been

in short supply; now

they are impossible to obtain.                                  

                      This is not

a temporary situation;

it is permanent.

Our condolences on your disappointment.

It is not our responsibility

everything you have heard about this place

is false. It is not our fault

you have been deceived,

ruined your health getting here.

For reasons beyond our control

there is no vehicle out.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
César Chelala

César Chelala

Dr. César Chelala is an international public health consultant, co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and two national journalism awards from Argentina.

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