5 Trump Headlines more outrageous than the “Hamilton” Tiff

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Trump is the master of misdirection, the techniques magicians use to get you to look elsewhere while they perform their sleight of hand. This weekend on social media was taken up with his slamming matches with the cast of the play “Hamilton,” who addressed a respectful appeal to vice president-elect Mike Pence to honor the country’s diversity as he was leaving the playhouse. Trump also slammed Saturday Night Live for its satire of him.

The Hamilton story was actually placed above the fold at the New York Times, while the news that broke Friday that Trump had settled the student lawsuits against him over the fraudulent “Trump University” for $25 million was placed below the fold.

So here are the headlines that should have been above the “Hamilton” slamming match in all our newspapers, and should have been shared and retweeted on social media:

1. Trump charged some students as much as $30,000 a year for tuition at his so-called university, in return for which they got nothing of value. The Better Business Bureau gave the “university” a D-minus rating.

As George Takei of Star Trek fame tweeted, Trump probably made $150 million with this educational fraud, even after paying the settlement.

What Mr. Takei did not say is that even the $25 mn. settlement can be taken off Trump’s taxes! This is the man who ran on lowering student debt— but who created debt for 5,000 students, and useless debt (many indebted students at least do have a real degree).

2. A Neo-Nazi conference was held in Washington this weekend to celebrate Trump’s win, in which there were actually “Heils” shouted out from the audience and anti-Jewish statements were made. These white supremacists go by the name alternative right or alt-right by which they mean that they are to the right of the conservatives. The corporate media, in accordance with the project of normalizing Trumpism, has been willing to refer to them by this term that they themselves chose for propaganda purposes. But they are just white supremacists with a nostalgia for 1930s Germany.

3. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) threatened to take the incoming Trump administration to court if they engaged in waterboarding, which is included in international law as a form of torture. Trump ran on a platform of using torture, and at one point promised to bring back waterboarding. His nominee as head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), has said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture, and affirmed that it is constitutional. (The Bill of Rights forbids cruel and unusual punishment, and the US is signatory to treaties and instruments that ban torture).

4. Attorney-General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions is linked to a galaxy of far right wing anti-immigration groups

5. Members of the Israeli cabinet are coming out in favor of white supremacist Steve Bannon, the new White House propagandist under Trump. Bannon’s Breitbart.com and the Neofascist tendency it represents have often engaged openly in bashing Jews. (Bannons says that Breitbart is an organ of the “alt-right,” the Neofascist strain referenced in “2” above). Like many white nationalists, however, they support Israeli squatters against brown Palestinians, and this is the basis on which PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s extremist cabinet is willing to give them a pass. The term “Antisemite” is now reserved by the Zionist right wing only for human rights critics of the theft of Palestinian land and resources, and is not applied to actual bigots who are prejudiced against, you know, like . . . Jews. This development is not exactly shocking, since the Likud Party’s “revisionist” Zionist has roots in the 1930s mass political movements and is influenced by fascist thinking of that era.


Related video:

NY Theater Guide: “Cast of ‘Hamilton’ Delivers Curtain Call Statement to VP-Elect Mike Pence”

34 Responses

  1. A theatre is not a place for actors to step out of character and address individual members of a mixed and captive audience however respectfully. For Pence to express himself not offended was a dignified response to something that shouldn’t have happened regardless of the sentiments. Suppose other members of the audience had risen from their seats to protest this misuse of the occasion, or such addresses were to became a norm? Dystopia here we come.

    • I agree that the theatre, where patrons have paid to see a play, is not the place for the cast to point out a single individual, even the Vice President Elect, and express their political opinion and lecture him on their point of view. Governor Pence demonstrated a lot more class than did the play’s cast, which came close to competing with Trump in their rudeness.

      • I disagree completely.

        When you pay to see a performance you just have to accept that not everything will be to your liking. If you don’t like the performance, just quietly leave.

        It is not rude to confront a tyrant.

        • It was not part of the performance. And as far as I can see Pence is not a “tyrant.” It was rude and in very poor form.

      • Yes, well Drumpf has set the stage over the past several years, hasn’t he? Saying that Obama’s birth certificate wasn’t real, etc etc. He deserves all the criticism he is getting, given all the name calling he has done over the past 18+ months. Trump has no class — period.

        • The cast’s demonstration of poor form and lack of class was not directed at Trump. It was directed at Pence, who was attending the play. Trump has no class, and neither did the cast. Pence is the only one who demonstrated some class in his response.

        • Pence has no class either; nor discernment. Look at the people he hangs out with.

    • Actually the whole idea of theater is to get people to think, so presenting an “afterword” is perfectly OK.

      If people don’t want to have to deal with the message of a performance, do not buy a ticket.

      Note also that one of the foundations of this counrtry is the ability to speak our mind in a public setting. As you saying that the performers don’t have that right? I find it somewhat hypocritical of you to be unhappy about the performers of a play about basic liberties speaking their mind to a politician.

      In reality we need to confront trump, pence and the rest of the “merry band” whenever and wherever we can.

    • Dystopia is unchallenged rule by racists.

      We’ve been lectured all our lives about the evil of the German people made manifest by their failure to do everything in their power to sabotage Hitler from the day of his election.

      Would you have condemned Marlene Dietrich, Bertold Brecht and all the other actors and writers and creative people in Germany if they had merely used their bully pulpits on Day 1 of the Third Reich to issue a plea to the Fuhrer to not do the worst that he was capable of? For all the difference it could have made?

    • They didn’t want to throw rocks at him- and even asked the audience not to boo. They just wanted to talk to him. Do citizens not have the right to speak to their rulers? The Right To Petition is one of the five freedoms in your constitution. It dates back to the Magna Carta. I’m sure Stalin would not approve of ordinary citizens daring to speak to him, but it seems Mike Pence does.

      Suppose Trump’s version, that no citizens can speak to their betters, takes hold. Are you prepared for a world where you and people like you are not permitted to address the men who rule your country?

      And the argument “there’s a time and a place” is absurd. When? When would actors get to speak to a President or Vice-President? Seems to me ever since that little John Wilkes Booth misunderstanding, actors don’t get a lot of chance to get close to a President or Vice-President. Oddly enough.

    • Oh, like, uh, say, Aristophanes, whose parabaseis in ancient Athens were intended to directly confront the audience with the politics of the day and challenge them? Read your Frogs, or Knights, or Birds. Yeah, political confrontation in the theater – soooo undemocratic. Theater is THE place for political confrontation and argument – do you think it coincidence that MacBeth was one of the first plays performed in post-war Germany? And just what the hell do you think Shakespeare’s Caesar or Henry VI trilogy were about but the politics of his day, couched in the “safe” casing of theatrical production? The last time I saw the Persians performed (written by the great ancient Athenian playwright Aeschylus), it was clearly intended as a direct commentary on US involvement in Iraq (a map of the Persian empire was projected on a large screen at the play’s opening, with SUSA as the capitol, and by the time the backdrop had projected on SUSA all that was left was USA; the Persian courtiers were dressed in three piece suits but wore Persian robes). Sorry, but you are just wrong on this.

  2. I’m not sure about the anti-Semitic charge. All I’ve been able to find so far is summed up by TeleSUR.

    “Indeed Bannon himself has invited the support of anti-Semites, as he harbors the same views His ex-wife, who police reports have said he physically abused, accused him of anti-Semitism during divorce proceedings, saying that he refused to send their daughters to a prestigious school in Los Angeles because it had too many Jews.”

    I’m not sure that amounts to much, considering the fact that Jared Kushner wields a lot of power in the Trump organization. (Admittedly, I don’t pour over alt.right publications like Breitbart very often. I find when I do that I have to scrape myself off with a flat stick.)

    To me, the Neo-Nazi “conference” is the most disturbing. Apparently, “Heil!” is not the only Nazi word they’re trying to revive. There were also shouts of “Lugenpresse!” a word that means “lying press.” Like Trump, I sometimes long for the old days. Some say that when Trump’s father marched with the Klan in New York the cops beat the hell out of him. (Trump denies the incident ever happened.) link to newyorker.com

    • The Anti-Defamation League considers Bannon to be anti-Semitic. I saw the head of that organization on MSNBC say that a couple of days after Bannon’s appointment was made.

      • The ADL is actually one of the shrewdest political organizations in America. They have a long history of neutering demagogues. The way they brought McCarthy down was masterful. But that doesn’t mean they always tell the truth even as they see it.

    • Have you read Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism? Try it sometime, she has a good analysis – and disturbing. I see no way in which this can be justified, and much of this sounds like special pleading. I will say this to Mr. Glad frankly though: you are wrong.

      How Hillary’s private email server got her excoriated while Trump’s embrace of anti-Semitism gets explained away tells me we are in a deep moral sewer – and no, I did not “like” Hillary, but we have seen this KKK/Nazi show before, and it leads to a dangerous place.

      Plenty of Jews corroborated with the Nazis and were protected – this is news to you? It’s shameful and backward. Why don’t you go read the 1922 New York Times article on Herr Schicklegruber – they were equally (and ominously) dismissive of anti-semitism.

      • I read Arendt’s book many years ago in in college and thought it was a bit rambling and lacking social science discipline. I would recommend John Dean’s Conservatives Without a Conscience which goes into recent social science research on what makes people have an authoritarian leaning and how that is linked to conservative thought. Also, here’s an appropriate article in today’s Huffington Post: link to huffingtonpost.com

  3. Regarding the Tump U settlement, this is the way our country operates. If a con man swindles a little old lady out of $5,000 and is caught, he will not only have to pay it all back, he will almost certainly be prosecuted for violating the law and has a good chance of spending a couple of years behind bars. A rich businessman cheats thousands of people out of millions, but it’s only a civil trial and he walks away with most of his money. It’s like the bankers who crashed the economy so they could enrich themselves and all that happened is that their banks had to pay hefty fines which were undoubtedly less than what they made. As someone once said, the best way to rob a bank is to own one. BTW, are there still people who think that Trump is looking out for the “little guy”?

  4. Please refer to Professor Cole’s earlier article on Bannon. The Bannon apologists all jump to “Bannon’s ex-wife slander” response. This is the same response I have seen all over Social Media, I have now seen it a dozen times, is there a play book?

    • You speaking to me? :)

      No play book here. Just lack of any clear evidence. And how do you explain Kushner? He some kind of Judas goat?

      • Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the history of oppression, it’s that those who are oppressed never act in their own self interest by cooperating with their oppressors.

        That never happens.

        Slaves never cooperated with their masters – “Uncle Tom” is a leftist concoction – they never existed. As well as “Buffalo Soldiers,” also a fabrication.

        Native Americans never worked with the US Cavalry in the extermination of the Native Americans.

        Minority police officers have never abused other minorities.

        Minority soldiers never commit atrocities against the brown or yellow inhabitants of the countries the US invades.

        South Vietnamese never worked with the Unites States to murder NLF (South Vietnamese) cadres.

        Iraqis and Afghanis have never cooperated with US occupation forces.

        Palestinians have never spied on other Palestinians for Israel.

        Abused women always leave after the initial abuse. They never stay with their abuser…

        How to explain Kushner?
        It’s completely consistent with the support for Israel by the right wing, Christian supremacist movement represented by Pence, et al, which sees Israel as a temporary impediment to the inevitable return of Jesus. Once Jesus returns, Jews will be converted (or else), and Israel will once again be the center of Christianity.

  5. Excuse me, Trump apologists. The “theater” is not the place for protest – but the White House is the place from which White Supremacists can make long-term plans for a state ruled by Internet bullies who ruin the lives of anyone who criticizes the man they already call “God-Emperor”?

    link to nationalreview.com

    This is a civil war that is only being waged by one side.

    • If you think that criticism of the play’s cast for exhibiting the rudeness and poor form that brings them down to the level of Trump is being a “Trump apologist,” I suggest you need to re-calibrate your understanding of nuance and ability to make distinctions. No one is a “Trump apologist.” Some of us expect more class from a play’s cast than acting like elementary students at recess

  6. Regarding the charges against Bannon of anti-semitism, the fellow is actually an ardent Zionist.

    You see, for a significant segment of the alt-right movement its all about ethnic nationalism and purity (of essense?) In the same way that those in the alt-right have a White Christian vision for American, so does Bannon respect and emphatically support the agenda of the Israeli Right for an ethnically pure Zion. This has become a wonderful way for Bannon et al to have their cake and eat it too.

    What this means for Jews in America I don’t know, but they should think again. They probably think they can manage ‘them’ through ‘him’ via Kushner, as alluded to above. Ah, the hubris.

    • It is not at all unusual for people to hold two contradictory ideas or beliefs at the same time and not recognize the conflict. It is called cognitive dissonance and is a common psychological condition. Thus, being an anti-Semite and a pro-Zionist is not out of the question as one is more about personal, racist views and the other is more of a foreign policy view. Also, many far right evangelical Christians believe that Israel taking over the Middle East is the necessary step for the coming of Armageddon and the Rapture. So, those type of people can easily be both anti-Semitic and pro Zionist.

      • If they recognize the two contradictory ideas as such, it is not necessarily cognitive dissonance. F. Scott Fitzgerald said it best: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

  7. amazing, americans do not realize they reduce everything to money…..the first remarks that people had paid for tickets to see a threatre piece and a threatre was not a place to make the paying viewer endure anything other than what he paid for is………….historically the arts which naturally includes the threatre would and has been always the place to express views above politics and the issues of universal concern, i.e. human rights as stated in the united states constitution and bill of rights. obviously the remarks of this sort come from non-threatre goers, or they, the above, do not know the difference between a night at the movies and a night of performer-interaction-energy exchange that you hope for when going to the threatre or you would go to a movie. america these days sounds like parrots who have all learned the same phrases to recite …..i suggest if possible to try and take in a play, no i take that back, you are better off at the movies, the threatre experience would be too real and you do better with fantasy and virtual reality. it is from the stage wheather a play or even a concert that performers have historically appealed to the audience for various causes only because it is hoped, expected, that the people comprising the audience are worth being appealed to, there is a possibility that the viewer and performer speak the same language or at least understand it especially when the appeal is to uphold basic human values, ideals we used to share.

    • As a confirmed theatre-goer my entire life, I am surprised that I must point out the difference between performing plays that tackle the major issues of our time, universal and otherwise, such as those by Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Tom Stoppard, et. al., and the cast using the curtain call to lecture a specific member of the audience. The former is timeless and has been performed since the time of the great Greek playwrights, the latter is representative of a society that has been coarsened and seems to think that being “in your face” is the norm.

      • And yet when the players come to Hamlet’s castle, he instructs them to do just that — address a specific member of audience — the King — and in the most “in your face” way imaginable. So what is Shakespeare again? Timeless, or a representative of a coarsened society. I think you have it backwards.

  8. A theatre is not a place for actors to step out of character….
    The play was over. The cast was no longer in character. If you’re under the impression that actors are always in character and therefore are unable to express themselves as actual people then you must be doing better drugs than I ever have.

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