Election 2016

Robert Reich Disappointed in Trump's 'Hamilton' Tweets

"The First Amendment is not some playground a president-elect can trample at will."

Photo Credit: Gino Santa Maria / Shutterstock.com

On Friday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence went to see the blockbuster Broadway musical "Hamilton." Upon recognizing Pence was in attendance, actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr in the musical, acknowledged Pence's presence—and the audience booed. Dixon tried to curb the boos and deliver a measured message of empathy to appeal to Pence to address his record of hate against LGBT people and his denial of women's reproductive rights. It was a positive and democratic message for very tense post-election times.

Predictably, the president-elect took to Twitter to denounce any perceived criticism of his campaign and future administration, saying, "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!"

But if you watch the speech Dixon gave, there's nothing rude about it. It's entirely respectful:

Sounds a little like an attempt to quell free speech by a president-elect, to some, including former secretary of labor Robert Reich. In a Facebook post Saturday morning, Reich expressed his disappointment in Trump's use of social media to criticize Dixon's appeal to get Pence to empathize with the diverse cast.

Reich broke it down in his Facebook post:

Here’s what really happened. Pence went to see the Broadway play "Hamilton" last night. As the play ended and Pence began walking out, actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, addressed Pence's presence from the stage: "Vice President-Elect Pence, I see you walking out, but I hope you hear us, just a few more moments," Dixon said as some of the audience members booed Pence. "There is nothing to boo here ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing to boo here. We are all here sharing a story of love. We have a message for you sir and we hope that you will hear us out."

Dixon said the cast welcomed Pence and thanked him for attending, and then continued: "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," Dixon added. "But we truly hope, that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."

It’s bad enough for the President-elect of the United States to disparage and lie about the New York Times in his tweets. It’s even worse to condemn individuals, and lie about what they've said. The First Amendment is not some playground a President-elect can trample at will, intimidating his adversaries by turning his followers against opposing views.

Reich finished with a call to action to stop the foolishness:

Here’s something you can do right now. Please tweet:

"I'm with @BrandonVDixon. @realDonaldTrump must stop using tweets to criticize free speech he disagrees with. That's unAmerican."

As for Dixon's response to Trump's tweet, as Raw Story reported, Dixon responded via Twitter, "conversation is not harassment, sir. And I appreciate Mike Pence for stopping to listen."

Jenny Pierson is a managing editor and assistant publisher at AlterNet.

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