Hamilton is an American musical about the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, which debuted in 2015. Now on broadway, it’s won numerous Grammy and Tony awards for its music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show is known for having a very diverse cast and “Hamilton’, itself a deeply political show about the United States as a nation of immigrants — with black or Hispanic actors playing George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers.” [Article] 11 days following the controversial election of Donald Trump, the Hamilton cast made a statement to Vice President elect Mike Pence who was in the audience. Brander Victor Dixon, who plays Vice President Aaron Burr, took a mic at the end of the show and made the statement on behalf of the show’s crew: “We, sir, 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 this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”
However, there was some backlash as well. The New York Times called this ‘Hamilton’ episode “the first major collision between the two Americas brought into sharp relief by the Nov. 8 election”. The values of the diverse cast of the show clearly clash with the political aspirations of President elect Donald Trump, who has voiced his plans to deport all undocumented immigrants, to build a “wall” at the border, and so far has given all major cabinet positions to white men. He has also expressed plans to change libel laws and to sue media organizations whose content he does not agree with. On his social media accounts, he has publicly criticized and “demonized” people protesting against him. [Article]
Mr. Pence did stay to listen to the cast, but Trump was unpleased with their efforts and made it publicly clear, asking for an apology from the show:
Mr. Dixon had something to say in response to Trump’s rant:
However, the man that was “harassed” according to Trump, said “I did hear what was said from the stage. I can tell you I wasn’t offended by what was said. I will leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it.” He also said, “My daughter and I and her cousins really enjoyed the show. ‘Hamilton’ is just an incredible production, incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there” [Read Here].
Despite being booed as he walked to his seats and being what Trump called “harassed”, he still had positive things to say about the show. So, why do people feel so strongly about Pence? His conservative values and particularly his stance on abortion may be one reason. In a 2011 interview, he told Politico, “If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not to be in the business of providing abortions. As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.” That same year, he submitted an amendment to majorly cut funding for Planned Parenthood. “By 2014, just a year after he became governor, Indiana had slashed its funding to Planned Parenthood to half of its 2005 levels. Pence also signed a measure in March 2016 prohibiting abortions performed on the basis of a fetus’ race, disability or gender. The law allowed doctors who were found to have performed abortions on the basis of any of those characteristics to be held liable for wrongful death.” [Article]
Pence also has a bad past with the LGBT community. He disputed the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law and told CNN in 2010 “We ought not to use the American military as a backdrop for social experimentation or debating domestic policy issues”. Also, in 2015, he signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act into law, which “allowed business owners to deny service to any person if they felt that serving them would violate their religious beliefs.” [Read Here]
So, this ‘Hamilton’ clash may just be the first in a very long 4 years of controversy and disagreement in the United States.