Donald Trump and his team spent the entire recent campaign mocking people who called for respect and safe spaces. They answered the calls for civility and for a campaign free of racism and other forms of bigotry by doubling down on policies and rhetoric that insulted and threatened the safety and liberties of many communities within our country.
Vice-President elect Mike Pence recently attended a performance of Hamilton,the much-praised play, and was addressed in clear and respectful terms at the end of the performance by the cast. Shushing members of the crowd who booed the running-mate of a candidate endorsed by supremacists, who himself has worked tenaciously to deny rights to same-sex couples in his home state, the cast declared, "We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us.”
Their remarks were framed in a respectful fashion, they were based on well-founded fears, and they simply asked to be heard.
Donald Trump responded with his trademark tweets, “Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen! 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!"
Firstly, it’s absurd to hear a man who has derided what he describes as “politically correct” calls for safe spaces suggesting that the theater--historically a venue for the expression of political and social critiques--should be a space free of criticism and critical thought. Trump, whose campaign is based around being a tough, truth teller, has been proven time and again to be a lying, hypocritical, thin-skinned man, eager to bully people when he holds the cards, but unable to stomach the kind of criticism that will be routine during the presidency.
Trump has turned our entire country--through his incendiary rhetoric and policy proposals, and now through his dangerous cabinet nominations--into a zone that is unsafe for many people of color, religious minorities, same sex couples, and political dissenters. That he would compare the polite criticism directed at Pence, which basically amounted to a plea to hear people’s voices, to the vile cauldron of insults and slanders that Trump has launched at our fellow citizens, is a measure of the man’s delusional, ignorant, and callous persona.
That Trump would call a firm if polite request to be heard “harassment,” thereby equating it with the physical assaults he has made on women, or the toxic consequences of his words, demonstrates that this is a man utterly unfit for office.
It also demonstrates that Trump is in for some major disappointments. If he thinks a few trite words can draw a line under 15 months of blistering hate, he is wrong. If he thinks the white supremacist, Islamophobic, authoritarian cabinet nominees will sail through the senate, he is wrong.
If he can’t handle Hamilton’s gentle injunction to his running-mate, a disgusting man who wants to subject same sex couples to conversation therapy to “fix” their sexuality and love for each other, Trump is in for a rough four years. Because those of us who are under threat from his incoming administration and those of us who care about the liberties of our fellow citizens are not going to let up.