“Minorities, Just Shut Up And Entertain Us”

Last night, Vice President Elect Mike Pence attended the wildly-popular Broadway show “Hamilton.” At the end of the show, cast member Brandon Dixon delivered a statement directed towards Pence. After Dixon asked the crowd not to boo Mr. Pence, here is the text of the statement he delivered:

We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.

Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at “Hamilton 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.

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 sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women, of different colors, creeds and orientations.

To hear the tone in which the message was delivered, here’s a video:

In response to this, President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted twice this morning:

I presented both the text and the video prior to President-Elect Trump’s response so that there may be full context for the rest of my comments. As you can see, the statement given at the end of the show was neither rude, harassing, nor disrespectful. To the contrary–agree with the message or not–it’s virtually impossible to argue against the delivery being anything other than precisely the kind of polite and respectful disagreement that this country could desperately use more of. Therefore, it logically follows that the backlash isn’t about the tone at all, but at its core is a message of “you should not have anything at all.”

UPDATED TO ADD: To his great credit, Mike Pence responded that he enjoyed the show, that there is no need for an apology” and that he reminded those attending with him that “this is what freedom sounds like.” Pence’s gracious response stands in stark contrast to that of Mr. Trump.

Put more bluntly, I’m having a hard time interpreting President-Elect Trump’s response any way other than “minorities, I am not interested in your grievances or concerns. I do not want you exercising free speech. Just shut up and entertain us.”

I hope I’m wrong.

–Ben

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One thought on ““Minorities, Just Shut Up And Entertain Us”

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  1. Great piece! I agree with you – that entire Hamilton situation was a debacle. It is crazy how conservative politicians like Trump and Pence are categorically against “safe spaces” (places where the downtrodden can go, temporarily, to get away from physical/psychological attacks) – but, as soon as minorities pose their grievances, they want a “safe space”!

    People of color, and black folks in particular, have long been forms of entertainment for white America. This goes all the way back to the minstrel shows. And that is exactly what Pence wanted to see that night – another minstrel show – and he was thrown off when they had the NERVE to “break character”.

    I find that this is the same with athletes: people are upset when NBA players take a stand against police brutality or other forms of oppression. People want their entertainers to be hollow-minded robots who do not more than make their audiences laugh.. Sad but true

    Like

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