Watch this video of Lin-Manuel Miranda performing the opening song from his musical Hamilton at a White House Poetry Jam in 2009 hosted by President Barack Obama:
(This performance by Miranda is one of a tiny number of events that make me grateful to President Obama. I don’t see President Trump hosting a poetry jam in the White House, although some of his tweets approach accidental poetry.)
If Lin-Manuel Miranda looks a little different than expected, you must realize that this performance was before he became the toast of Broadway by finishing the composition of Hamilton, staging the play off-Broadway with himself in the title role, moving the production to Broadway, selling bucket-loads of tickets, and winning a Pulitzer prize for his efforts.
For the rest of this discussion, bear in mind that I have not seen the entire musical, my original opinion was based on my dislike of hip-hop as a genre, and I was suspicious of the motivation for all-minority casting.
In the video, Miranda is singing as Aaron Burr, not Alexander Hamilton — and my original opinion was blown to pieces. (I still dislike hip-hop as a genre.)
Now this is what I’m talking about!
All the cranky whiners slicing Americans into narrower and narrower groups should just stop. Such corrosive division leads only to domination by the strongest, not to a robust republican form of government that grants space for everyone to chase his own flavor of happiness.
Lin-Manuel Miranda so closely identified with Alexander Hamilton that he scrubbed out the non-essential. He claimed the Founder for himself, and huzzah for him! No one should rip that away from him, because Hamilton is his as much as he is any other citizen’s, immigrant or native-born.
Yes, the State of the Union is imperfect — but we have a framework for revision. Don’t burn it down, add on to it.
Now celebrate the Fourth of July enthusiastically by singing along (as best you can) with this performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus: