Raise a glass to freedom

Trump may have to wait a little longer for his apology.

Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who plays Aaron Burr in the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, dedicated a curtain call to Vice President elect Mike Pence the night he went to see the show. However, this curtain call was unlike others. On behalf of the musical’s cast, Dixon delivered a passionate speech about equality, and how he hopes Pence will consider the rights of “everyone in the room” when making his policies. Pence was not offended by the speech or the reaction of the crowd, even telling his daughter that “This is what freedom sounds like.” However, Donald Trump seemed quite perplexed over the matter, and expressed his concerns over Twitter, sparking a social media war over the matter.

Still, some cannot help but sympathize with Pence for getting called out. At least he went to Hamilton, and exposed himself to a new perspective, right? However, that still does not change the fact that he has attempted to restrict abortion, ban gay marriage in his home state of Indiana, and advocate for the right of gun owners to carry weapons on school property. Pence is far from having a “liberal epiphany,” and as much of an authority figure as he is, many Americans also disgrace him. The expectation that he be treated with respect simply because he has opened himself up to a new perspective is a bit ironic, seeing as he does not show respect to others. Unfortunately, Pence is the only person who seems to understand that he does not deserve the respect of all Americans, specifically those in minority groups.

Despite the outrage expressed by Trump supporters surrounding the speech, the primary issue is not Pence’s reaction but Donald Trump’s. This speech would not have become a global phenomenon if not for the president elect’s social media outrage, where he wrote not one, not two, but three tweets expressing his disapproval of the speech and demanding an apology from the cast members. Despite the vice president elect claiming he was not offended, Trump took the opportunity to ignite a social media storm about the topic. The clash may have been due to the progressive views of the musical, and the very anti-Trump ideas that surround it. For example, not only is theme of the musical shaped around immigrants shaping the United States of America, but a certain percentage of funds for the show go towards HIV research. Trump may have viewed the musical as a threat to his ideas, and as such sought to bring down the musical through the power of his followers.

However, it is more likely that the fight was used as a distraction to cover the real events surrounding Trump, such as the settlement he signed as coverage for fraud lawsuits filed against Trump University. After continuously rejecting the allegations fired against him, Trump agreed to a settlement causing him to pay 25 million dollars to resolve a series of lawsuits claiming that Trump University employees were unqualified, a settlement that would not “settle” well with Trump supporters. As a strategy to distract from this event, Trump likely caused the social media storm around Hamilton purposefully, encouraging individuals to pay attention to a less serious issue than that of the lawsuits filed against him.

Whatever the public may think, Trump obviously does not take criticism well. Unfortunately, this backlash is just the beginning of a variety of clashes between the culture industry and the Trump presidency, with both sides claiming to truly speak for the people. And both sides will speak for the people, because as Pence said, this is what freedom truly sounds like.

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