Category Archives: Culture

The Only One in the Room

 

10 Awesome Optical Illusions That Will Melt Your Brain | Cool ...The downfall of many corporate giants comes from their believing they are “the smartest people in the room.”  One need look no further than Bethany McLean’s chronicle of boardroom hubris The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron.  In recent cinema annals, the go-to actor when casting the self-proclaimed genius among peers is Jesse Eisenberg.  Whether portraying real-life characters such as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network (2010) or the fictional magician Danny Atlas in Now You See Me (2013), Eisenberg exudes the right mix of confidence and arrogance to forewarn viewers he will eventually get his comeuppance.

One thing is a sure bet.  Any individual who proclaims to be “the smartest person in the room” probably isn’t.  So, when Donald Trump maintains he is a “stable genius” you can bet the mortgage on a roll of the dice at any bankrupt Trump casino, he is neither.  Even his most avid supporters know that.  Then why, you ask, can 40 percent of the voting population believe he deserves another four years in office?  Because, like most decisions we make in life, it depends less on what we know than what we feel.

The same is true when we decide which presidential candidate deserves our support.  The proof is not in the winners, but the also-rans.  Michael Kukakis ran on a platform of “technical competence” after four years of Ronald Reagan platitudes that sounded more like Hallmark greeting cards than an agenda for the future.  Al Gore was going to save the planet, but nobody wanted to sit down with him because they knew he would dominate the conversation.  He thought he already had all the answers.  Mitt Romney was the ideal candidate to prove what America needed was a businessman in the White House but made his pitch in macro-esque terms, not micro-appeals to individuals.  Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren had plans for everything, but the majority of voters could not have cared less.  Why aren’t party platforms given more attention?  One simple reason.  They don’t matter.

Which brings me back to the enigma of Trump’s support.  If the polling is correct, the question that is the single most reliable predictor of voting preference is, “Which candidate cares most about people like me?”  You know, that empathy thing.  But as Bill Clinton would have said, “It depends on what the definition of empathy is.”  If you are a living, breathing human being with a heart, you ask, “How could anyone vote for a man who time and time again fails to acknowledge the loss of 150,000 Americans to COVID19, even if his assertion is true that many more would have died but for his administration’s response?”  The media outlets drive home this point with split screen images of Trump and Biden.  One claims, “It is what it is.”  The other, “I know what it’s like to lose a member of your family and, believe me, there will be a day when a smile comes to your face before a tear comes to your eye.”

No contest?  I repeat, it depends on what the definition of empathy is.  Consider the following examples which explain how Trump’s coalition of support can include both billionaire Sheldon Adelson and former KKK grand dragon David Duke.

  • “Look at my stock portfolio.  Joe Biden would not have encouraged the Federal Reserve Bank to buy up stock after the market tanked in March.  Just goes to show, Trump cares about people like me.”
  • “America has always been a Eurocentric, Christian nation.  Trump understands that.  He cares about people like me.”
  • “I’m tired of the government telling me how many hours I can drive my rig.  I’m paid by the mile.  Getting rid of unnecessary safety regulations shows Trump cares about people like me.”
  • “Trump is the only person out there who stands up for law enforcement officers reminding people we are not responsible for a few bad apples.  He cares about people like me.”
  • “No one can force me to wear a mask.  Trump cares about people like me who believe in individual freedom.”

Put them all together and what have you got?  Forty to 42 percent of the voting population.

Yet, it also explains why 42 percent is also the likely ceiling of support this time around and the decline in support among two groups who were critical to Trump’s electoral college victory in 2016: the elderly and women.  Let’s start with older voters.  They may have healthy stock portfolios, hold negative views of people of color and immigrants or think police are getting a bum rap.   But if they die from the coronavirus, they are deprived of the opportunity to enjoy their assets and prejudices.  Thomas Jefferson knew what he was doing when he put “life” before “liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  The latter two are irrelevant if you’ve breathed your last breath.

Then there are women among whom Biden holds a 56-35 lead according to a June 2020 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.  In an earlier Hill-HarrisX survey, 62 percent of women voters said they were unlikely to vote for Trump.  There are a lot of reasons for this.  For example, younger, college educated women resent Trump’s efforts to deprive them of birth control under their employer’s insurance plan if the boss believes Jesus would have disapproved.  But that was also true in 2016.  What has changed?  Suburban white women are increasingly abandoning the Trump bandwagon.  Listen to the reasons reported in a June article in the Los Angeles Times.

I do like Trump, but I think he should set a better example.

If he’s not taking issues like this (pandemic) seriously, what else is he not taking seriously.

Honestly, I think he needs to stay off Twitter.

Sound familiar?  Despite enlightened views on gender roles when it comes to raising a family, women are still on the front line.  And their attitude toward Trump reflects that.  They want role models for their children.  And their concerns about Trump mirror their anxiety about their own offspring.  Why don’t they take school more seriously?  Are they spending too much time on social media?  They have to deal with their own adolescents on a daily basis.  The last thing they need is one more child to worry about even if he is president of the United States.

Nor do they appreciate someone who does not even pretend to be a partner when it comes to raising a family.  Imagine how you would feel if your husband told a national radio audience in 2005 he never changed his children’s diapers.  (Source: Opie and Anthony)

There’s a lot of women out there that demand that the husband act like the wife and you know there’s a lot of husbands that listen to that… I’m really like a great father but certain things you do and certain things you don’t. It’s just not for me.

I have had the opportunity to be in the same room with every U.S. president from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama.   Among those six chief executives, one stands out when it comes to the empathy quotient, Bill Clinton.  Yes, his nickname “Slick Willy” is well deserved.  He cheated on his wife and was guilty of workplace sexual harassment.  He perjured himself in a deposition.  And he may even be a pedophile based on his association with Jeffrey Epstein.

But when he said, “I feel your pain,” you believed him.  Not because he was smart or articulate even though he might have been the smartest person in the room.  After all, there was a reason he was called on to be the “explainer-in-chief” to make the case for Obama’s re-election at the 2012 Democratic convention.  It was because, when you stepped into his office in Little Rock to discuss rural development, he complimented you on your tie.  Or when you needed to get his attention at a National Governors Association meeting after he became president, he turned around and called you by name.

You believed him because he made you feel like “YOU were the ONLY ONE in the room.”  The winner in 2020 must exhibit that same quality.

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

Black and White America

 

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING ALERT:  The title of today’s post is another instance of “bait and switch” promotion.

TRUTH IN ADVERTISING ALERT #2:  I began drafting this post on July 7.   And as is often the case, I had no idea where the discussion would end up.  Many times the act of putting pen to paper (another Dr. ESP anachronism), rather than documentating the creative process,  becomes the impetus for further further exploration, restating the initial thesis and finding more unrelated connections.  All of which eventually results in the concluding question or declaration.

The Americans at heart are a pure and noble people; things to them are in black and white. It’s either ‘rawk’ or it’s not. We Brits putter around in the grey area.

~David Bowie

Donald Trump seldom tells the truth, but when he does, he is usually spot on.  One example was during the March 18 White House briefing on the coronavirus, when Trump labeled himself a “wartime president.”  That he is.  Since declaring his candidacy in June 2015 he has been at war with:

  • Immigrants
  • The Truth
  • Science
  • Members of His Own Administration
  • Judges Who Follow the Law
  • The U.S. Intelligence Community
  • NATO
  • The News Media
  • Barack Obama’s Legacy, and now
  • Members of His Own Family

And as of the Fourth of July, he is at war with history, taking on what has become known as the “cancel culture” movement.  When in fact, the term “cancel culture” more appropriately applies to the way American history has been portrayed since the arrival of the first Europeans on the North American continent.  Rather than “puttering around in the grey areas,” much of what my generation was fed in social studies classes was a sanitized version of our culture with more more attention paid to a chopped down cherry tree than slavery.

The story of America, for most of its existence, has been painted in black and white.  The earliest white spaces are covered with tales of adventurous sailors who mastered the Atlantic Ocean, colonists as white as the powdered wigs they donned bringing civilization to a “savage” frontier and soldiers, who armed with an overwhelming advantage in firepower, cleared the landscape of indigenous people.

NOTE:  This is where the July 7 draft ended and today’s thoughts begin.

For too many years, examples of what fills the black spaces in this metaphorical portrait of the United States, were few and far between.  Then, as is so frequently the case, events that alter the historical landscape come from the most unexpected places.  Until four days ago, I would have asked, “Who would have ever imagined the death of an unknown 46 year-old truck driver and security guard would make America confront the lasting legacy of slavery and Jim Crow?”  To some extent, George Floyd’s murder at the hands of those sworn to protect and preserve, not kill us, focused on the present and future.  How could this still happen in 2020?  What do we do now?

Something was still missing.  What was the intersection between where I was heading three weeks ago–the history of America in black and white–and the seismic shift in the attitude of many, particularly white Americans, about the lingering effects of once viewing African-Americans as first property, and later, as second class citizens?  And as suggested above, the answer came from the most unexpected of sources, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton.  While Donald Trump and his apologists accuse those who question how we first allowed and continued to tolerate the honoring of traitors who violated their oath of allegiance to defend the Constitution, Cotton is the one who has made cancelling culture a cause celebre.  Not simple by opining about his view of America’s chronology, but attempting to legislate it.

On July 24, Cotton introduced the Saving American History Act of 2020 which “would prohibit the use of federal funds to teach the 1619 Project by K-12 schools or school districts.  Schools that teach the 1619 Project would also be ineligible for federal professional-development grants.”  For those unfamiliar with the project, the series was published in the New York Times in August 2019, 400 years after the first slave was brought to the New World.  It is a detailed narrative about slavery in America and its consequences.  Staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, who pitched the idea to the Times editorial board, has since been awarded a MacArthur “genius grant” and a Pulitzer Prize for her efforts.  Editor-in-chief of the Times Magazine Jake Silverstein described the series  as an opportunity to  view American history through a different lens “by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year.”

Who could possibly argue a constant re-examination of history is a bad thing?  You guessed it, Senator Cotton.  In a July 26 interview with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writer Frank Lockwood, Cotton doubles down.

As the founding fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.

So, as I research my forthcoming biography of the Arkansas senator titled I Wish I Wasn’t in the Land of Cotton, I plan to ask him the following questions.

  • Senator, I Googled the question, “Which founding fathers described slavery as a necessary evil upon which the union was built?”  The only name associated with the quote is yours.  Can you clarify which founding father made this claim and when?
  • Senator, even if the founding fathers had said that, wouldn’t a more appropriate answer be, “They were wrong then.  And they are wrong now.”
  • Senator, why did you take the phrase “on the course of its ultimate extinction,” out of context and add the phrase, “the union was built in a way?”  At the time he delivered what became known as “The House Divided” speech, upon accepting the Republican nomination for president in June 1858, Lincoln said that America faced two futures.  One in which the South prevails and slavery is legal in all states.  Or one in which the “opponents of slavery will arrest the  further spread of it, and place it when the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction.”
  • Finally Senator, if you subscribe to the idea “the union was built in a way to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction,” why do you oppose removing the statues of men who violently opposed that course?

Which brings us full circle to the topic of looking at American history as being either black or white and its relationship to one other issue du jour which has flooded the TwitterSphere, “cultural appropriation.”  Conservative publications were quick to criticize Democratic congressional leaders for donning ceremonial Kente cloth during a press conference at which they announced proposed police reform legislation.  According to Forbes contributor Seth Cohen, “In doing so, they meant to honor Black lives. Instead, they appropriated African culture.”

So, where is the outrage when Tom Cotton appropriates what can only be described as the American experience by Blacks from 1619 to 1865 to justify his claims it was “necessary.”  I look forward to Cotton’s foray into cinema with his production of White Men Can’t Build Nations.

Lone Ranger | Lone Ranger Wiki | FandomHowever, the ultimate misappropriation of culture comes from none other than Donald J. Trump.  Remember when the man “in the white hat” was the hero who came to the rescue.  The villains wore black.  This convention was popular between 1920 and 1950, and though not specifically racial in nature, “filmmakers expected audiences would understand the categorizations.”  (Source:  Investigating Information Society)  In the case of the Lone Ranger, he even wore a mask before it was mandated.  Now that’s what I call a positive role model.

Trump's 'Make America Great Again' Hats May Not Be Made in America ...In case you have not noticed, the current occupant of the White House may be perpetually orange, but he has switched the hue of his cranial attire.  When Trump pinned his hopes of re-election on RED states, he would always wear a similarly colored MAGA cap.  But as those once reliable jurisdictions turn more purple or even blue, Trump feels the need to more closely identify with his only remaining demographic.  Presto, the new ALL WHITE cap, a clear case of a bad guy appropriating the good guy culture. Ironically, Fortune magazine reports the WHITE version, while assembled in the United States, the material is made in RED China.  Xi whiz, who could have predicted that?

The Lone Ranger must be spinning in his grave.  And Tonto, too.

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

What’s In a Name?

 

The internet is ripe with teasers.  Mixed among the actual news stories on many sites, you can find advertisements disguised as titillating celebrity exposes or “never before seen” historical photographs.  My personal favorite is “wardrobe malfunctions,” which includes a still photograph displaying Elizabeth Taylor’s smallpox vaccination from the movie Cleopatra.  Who knew doctor Edward Jenner, who discovered the immunizing effect of mild doses of the disease, was of Egyptian origin going back to the first century B.C.E?

Roger Stone calls black radio host Mo'Kelly racial slur in interviewMajor media outlets such as the Washington Post generally shy away from such come-ons.  Yet, I have to admit I was intrigued by the headline in this morning’s New York Times, “Roger Stone Uses Racial Slur on Radio Show.”  First thoughts?  Roger Stone using a racial slur is hardly what one would imagine as news.  And which far-right media outlet was trying to keep up with Alex Joneses?

Let’s start with the relevant facts.

  • Stone was speaking with the African-American host of “The Mo’Kelly Show,” Los Angeles-based Morris W. O’Kelly.
  • During a discussion of Stone’s recently commuted jail sentence, the guest is caught on mic telling someone else in the room with him, “I’m arguing with this Negro.”

The Times reports:

When Mr. O’Kelly asked him to repeat what he said, Mr. Stone let out a sigh, then remained silent for almost 40 seconds. Acting as if the connection had been severed, Mr. Stone vehemently denied that he used the slur.

Now there is more than enough evidence to accuse Roger Stone of being a dyed in the wool racist, but this is not one of them.  At worse, it confirms that when he and his emancipator Donald Trump say, “Make America Great Again,” they are talking about the America of the 1950s.  The term “Negro” may be an anachronism; it is not a slur.

Would the United Negro College Fund keep the word in its name if the board of directors thought it disparaged those it seeks to aid?  Would Martin Luther King have used the term 15 times in his August 1963 “I Have a Dream” oration at the Lincoln Memorial?  Would King have cautioned the nation, “There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights”?  Never once did I hear an African-American tell a white person, “just because brothers use the term among themselves, don’t assume it’s okay for you to use it.”

Every time the debate re-emerges over the proper nomenclature for different people of color, I am reminded of a conversation I once had with the only Black person I was close to growing up in the segregated South in the 1950s and 1960s.  Her name was Luttie Overby.  In 1925, she moved from her Durham, North Carolina home to Richmond, Virginia to take care of my then three year old mother and her two siblings so my grandmother could go back to work following her husband’s death.  She lived with my grandmother in an apartment on Monument Avenue (yes, that Monument Avenue) for the next 42 years.  To understand their relationship, Luttie was the female equivalent of Hoke Colburn and my grandmother was Miss Daisy.

Luttie was born in 1896 and lived to the ripe old age of 94.  In terms of race relations in the United States, imagine what she observed and experienced over her lifetime from the dark days of Jim Crow to the election of an African-American Douglas Wilder as governor of Virginia.  Which brings me back to that one conversation we had.  Luttie always referred to herself and her friends as “colored people.”  One time, after Black American became the preferred reference, I joked with her, “Luttie, you know you’re not colored any more, you’re Black now.”  To which she replied, “Jaybird (her nickname for me), I was colored when I was born and I’ll be colored when I die.”  Makes one wonder if there are spirits of a generation of Lutties who still hold court in the NAACP’s board room.

As Shakespeare might say, “A person of color by any other name is still a person, and surely deserves the same rights and privileges in life, regardless of the term they prefer to describe themselves.”   So, while I may be disappointed, even angry, folks like Roger Stone remain cloistered in a bygone era, I do not find his use of the word “Negro” nearly as offensive as his use of the word “this” as in “this Negro,” which tells us much more about his attitude toward Mr. O’Kelly.

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

It’s Up to Us

In an era when voters across the political and ideological spectrum are questioning the integrity of our democratic process, we need professionals, not politicians, overseeing elections.

~Dr. ESP, Fernandina Beach News-Leader/July 8, 2020

Does quoting oneself make me a narcissist?  If so, I plead guilty.  I can always hope Bill Barr will drop the charges or Donald Trump will commute my sentence.

More surprising, the excerpt comes from a letter to the editor in which I endorsed a Republican for county supervisor of elections.  (Gasp!) Now one might argue, “Dr. ESP, big deal!  All three candidates are registered Republicans.”  True.  But that does not explain why I would try to influence a partisan primary of a party to which I do not belong.  Of the three candidates one is a real estate developer who currently serves as a county commissioner.  Another is our former state representative, who, upon being term-limited, immediately ran for superintendent of schools and was soundly defeated. As one political commentator put it, “A former Republic state legislator is trying, yet again, for her next political office.” (A.  G. Gancarski/June 13, 2020)  Given the choice, I will take a career public servant over a career campaigner/fundraiser every time.

The third, my preference, although born and raised in our county, has for the past 13 years served as director of information services in the elections office of our neighboring county.  Additionally, he has been honored by his peers on numerous occasions. (NOTE:  It remains a mystery to me why so many states, particularly Southern states, fill critical administration jobs through partisan elections.)

What was not surprising was a letter to the editor, two days later, by a member of the local Republican party steering committee in which she made two points which only proved my case.  First she identified me as “a Democrat who believes that a Duval County career bureaucrat has the answers for Nassau County.”  But then she goes on to describe her preferred candidate as “a real conservative and someone we can all trust.”

Reminiscent of the scene in Field of Dreams when Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones) contemplates writing another book titled Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa, this 2020 political saga might as well be called The Trump GOP Comes to Northeast Florida.  Consider the obvious parallels.

  • In my critic’s world, dedicated public servants are “career bureaucrats,” an oft-used Trump administration dog whistle warning the GOP base a deep state conspiracy is afoot.
  • Having not identified myself as a Democrat in the newspaper, she must have taken the time to look me up in the county voter registration records.  As is the modus operandi of Trump and his allies in D.C., the focus is always on the messenger, never on the message.
  • My opinions are invalid simply by virtue of being a member of the opposition party.
  • An outright admission that her candidate’s ideology is more important than her experience overseeing elections.
  • And finally, the tell-tale phrase “someone we can all trust.”  As Bill Clinton might say, “It depends on what the meaning of ‘all’ is.”  All is only those who believe “a true conservative” can do the job.

Many years ago, I attended a conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at which a newly elected U.S. Senator warned the audience to be wary when they hear the mantra, “Power to the People.”  In most cases, he said, what they really mean is, “Power to MY People.”  The speaker was 30-year-old Joe Biden.  He may have aged, but his message has not.  Equally important, he suggested this inherent contradiction between the spoken word and the underlying objective is not the exclusive purview of one political party.

I offered my two-cents in this local election because it is up to each of us to establish whether we put the public interest above partisan allegiances or ideology.  If there had been an equally unqualified, untested Democratic candidate for elections supervisor, my endorsement would be the same.  To overcome the political distemper that taints civic dialogue and the inability to reconcile legitimate differences in policy, each of us needs to set an example, be a role-model.

Pin on Bucket ListI am not naive enough to think everyone will jump on this bandwagon immediately.  After all, Republican primary voters in Colorado recently ousted an incumbent congressman in favor of a restaurant owner (third from the left) from Rifle, Colorado (no kidding) who believes in the QAnon deep state conspiracy.  And based on the overwhelming Republican majority in the district, she is likely to be sworn in next January.

And still, many Americans wonder why the standing of the United States has diminished abroad.  Listen carefully to what the foreign onlookers say.  They may mention Donald Trump’s incompetence and ignorance.  But above all, they wonder how American voters ever ceded him the stage in the first place.  As Walt Kelly’s alter ego Pogo so eloquently said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

Why Hamilton?

 

There is one positive aspect about the founding of the United States which is beyond reproach.  Cinematic productions of award-winning Broadway musicals about the era are among the best transformations of content from stage to screen.  Such was the case with Peter Hunt’s 1972 production of 1776 and Disney’s presentation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.  What do they have in common?  Both films (I know it’s an anachronism) featured the original Broadway casts and neither relied on B-roll clips or CGI to enhance the atmosphere of the stage settings.  Such devotion to capturing the source material in its original format allows one to focus on the “cattle” rather than the “hat.”  NOTE: For non-Texans, this reference comes from the Lone Star State axiom about an individual of no substance, “All hat; no cattle!”

Without the distraction of bizarre camera angles and disco-esque light shows, I fixated on the question, “Why Hamilton?”  Was this the alternative to Peter Hunt’s having already examined the process of drafting the Declaration of Independence in melody and lyrics.  Given the opportunity, would “The Room Where It Happened” have been about the chamber in Independence Hall when Jefferson trades abolition of slavery for South Carolina and Georgia’s ratification of the the document rather than a dinner where Jefferson and Madison swap the location of the future seat of government for Hamilton’s national bank.

The obvious answer?  Alexander Hamilton and Miranda share the same Puerto Rican roots.  What better personal choice for a metaphor about the on-going desire for freedom and respect.  Yet, Edward de Bono, the father of “lateral thinking,” implores us never to stop at the first adequate right answer.  Keep searching.  For me, that next right answer emerged when Jonathan Groff enters as King George III.  You immediately notice Groff, who is whiter than white (hopefully with the aid of make-up), is the exception to the rule.  He is the only Anglo character in the story played by a Caucasian.  And quite the dandy.  Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler rolled into a single persona.

It is not just his looks, but his words, especially the chorus to his first solo number “You’ll Be Back,” which expose his character.

You’ll be back
Soon you’ll see
You’ll remember you belong to me
You’ll be back
Time will tell
You’ll remember that I served you well

You are better off a colonist than responsible for your own care and feeding.  The theme re-emerges during King George’s second appearance following the surrender at Yorktown in the song, “What Comes Next.”  The monarch further demonstrates his disdain and lack of respect for his “beloved” subjects.

What comes next?
You’ve been freed
Do you know how hard it is to lead?
You’re on your own

Sound familiar?  The exact words every plantation owner told his slaves at the end of the Civil War.  Right answer #2.  Hamilton is not about the American Revolution.  It is not about the colonists seeking independence from The Crown.  It is the realization that emancipation from the lingering attitude toward former slaves was harder than abolishing the institution of involuntary servitude.

But again, why Hamilton?  Could the narrative not been equally effective if the musical had been about Pedro Albizu Campos, a Puerto Rican attorney and politician who championed the territory’s independence movement in 1950.  Or Harriet, The Musical.  Ironically, right answer #3 is handed to us in Act 1, Scene 1, when Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom, Jr.) cannot understand his rival’s success.

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
Spot in the Caribbean by Providence, impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

If you thought Hamilton  was a metaphor for emancipation, substitute the words “absentee father” for “Scotsman” or “project in Chicago” for “spot in the Caribbean.”  Or consider the following excerpts from Miranda’s first solo, “My Shot.”

Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy, and hungry

The problem is I got a lot of brains, but no polish
I gotta holler just to be heard

I’m a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal
Tryin’ to reach my goal

These are not the words of a colonist or a slave.  They are the words of too many disadvantaged Americans of color and Dreamers who have much to offer if only given the chance.

But still, why Hamilton?  Why not Martin Luther King or Medgar Evers?  Which brings me to right answer #4.  Hamilton is as much about unfulfilled potential and legacy as it is about the title character’s life.  And what better examples of the unfairness in the world than the cruel reality when King is assassinated at age 39 and  Evers at age 40 is gunned down while those responsible for their deaths live to be 70 (James Earl Ray) and 80 (Byron De La Beckwith).  Is it a coincidence that Burr also lived to be 80 while Hamilton died at 47 or 49, depending on the conflicting records of his birth?  Miranda captures this message in the lyrics of the closing number, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” in which Hamilton’s sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler sings:

Every other founding father story gets told
Every other founding father gets to grow old

The same question could be asked about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or Admaud Arbery.  In their own way, each found themselves in the middle of a modern day movement, one more attempt to reach the vision of a more perfect union where all are “created equal with inalienable rights.”  And each protester who takes a knee or marches in support of Black Lives Matter is echoing the lyrics, “I gotta holler just to be heard.”

Hamilton is not about the past.  It is a metaphor of the moment.  Why Hamilton?  Because it is a story for all time, all places and all people.

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP