#BoycottHamilton didn't take long to start on Twitter. Following reports that the audience booed Vice-president elect #Mike Pence and one of the show's stars addressed him directly, #Donald Trump's supporters couldn't hold back. It was 'disrespectful' to single Pence out. It was just the 'liberal elite' who had 'distorted history' by casting non-white actors as the Founding Fathers. Trump himself tweeted about harassment and demanded an apology. But there's nothing to apologize for.
Hamilton's Cast Said What Others Can't
Just like everyone in the United States, the cast of 'Hamilton' has the right to protest and the right to free speech. Unlike millions of Americans, the Broadway actors had a chance to talk directly to a member of Trump's administration. Trump's team holds positions that seriously worry women and minorities. Knowing this, Brandon Dixon called Pence out.
Pence has supported therapy to 'cure' homosexuality and passed a law that allowed Indiana businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers. That alone would justify protest from the cast. Javier Munoz, who currently plays Alexander Hamilton, is an openly gay man who is HIV positive - exactly the kind of person who could be harmed by the Trump administration.
Trump's decision to appoint Steve Bannon as his senior counsel and nominate Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general have worried minorities and civil rights groups. Bannon is a darling of the Alt-Right and a supposed white nationalist, while Sessions has a history of opposing civil rights organisations and making borderline racist statements. 'Hamilton' has a diverse cast that feels rightly threatened by Trump's rise.
Why did Pence go to Hamilton anyway?
Mike Pence should have expected a frosty reception when he decided to see 'Hamilton.' Since its opening night, the show has been the focus of excitement for liberals and often disgust from conservatives. There was no way Pence could slip in and out undetected and there was little chance the audience would just ignore him.
So why did Pence go to 'Hamilton' at all? Maybe he and his advisers thought attending a Broadway hit would help to normalize him and even normalize Trump's administration. Once upon a time, any politician of Pence's stature would be given the deference and respect his Twitter supporters are demanding. But these are not normal times.
As Trump continues to attack the media, make false claims about The New York Times' circulation, and demand apologies for every slight on his Twitter account, the ability to dissent will become ever more important. The cast of 'Hamilton' took an extraordinary stand and knew about half the country would condemn them. It's not easy to call out one of the most powerful men in the country as he's leaving a show. It would be harder for all of Trump's critics if Brandon Dixon stayed silent.