An Open Letter to Kellyanne Conway

Dear Ms. Conway -

In the wake of the respectful and civil comments, as well as the classy response from the cast of Hamilton, you tweeted today that you agreed with the president elect who failed to win the popular vote plus:

“… And @mike_pence deserves respect and a peaceful night out with his nephew and daughter.”

Enough is enough.

Please just stop it.

Your candidates, who failed to win the popular vote, no longer need your help to divert attention from the real trouble they are causing. The campaign is over. Let them try to bamboozle America, but please don’t help them anymore. They have to learn to govern now.

Last night, the cast of Hamilton spoke up. They did it respectfully and they did it appropriately. I was at a production of South Pacific after 9/11. The cast stood, at the end, and led the audience in a rendition of “God Bless America.” I have been at Broadway Shows where they ask for donations for the important work of people fighting AIDS. Speaking up in this environment is not unprecedented. In our free society, the arts flourish because they can, and on Broadway, when things really matter, people speak up.

It would have been fine.

And then the man you helped win an election but lose the popular vote (did I already mention this?) decided to once again exercise his childish judgment and tweet. And what does he tweet about? That he suddenly cares about something called an apology? For real?

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

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!

And then the response from “Hamilton?” Class, grace, and patriotism:

Brandon Victor Dixon @BrandonVDixon

@realDonaldTrump conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen.

Harassment and free speech are not the same thing, Ms. Conway. If you need to be reminded of the difference, your candidate actually described on video his own behavior of sexual assault. That’s harassment. Harassment are the swastikas that are being painted on the doors where Jews live and the occasions when hijabs that are being pulled off Muslims and the “whites only” signs that are showing up in high school bathrooms. He is not putting up the signs. But he should spend his time asking the perpetrators of these acts to apologize to their victims, not a graceful, courageous proponent of free speech to apologize to someone who is taking public money and promising to lead this country.

Comments from the Cast of Hamilton to VP-Elect Pence, 11/18/16

Please be careful when you imply that someone did something they didn’t do. And please choose your words carefully.

This was a courageous and respectful act of free speech.

Throughout the campaign you continued to try to convince the American people that what we saw on the video tape didn’t happen or didn’t matter or that it was in the past, and that what we heard from the candidate himself was the “unfair media” or that we were taking things out of context. You were wrong. But apparently it didn’t matter enough to enough people. You won. Fair and square? Not so sure about the fair part — but yes, you won.

But the campaign is over and now the job of the candidate you supported (you know, the one who failed to win the popular vote but has said he wants to work with everyone) has changed. It is not that he get elected. It is that he leads. On election night, he said he wanted to lead this country. I heard you say that same thing on CNN more times than I can count. That night, somehow you got him to sound calm. An exhausted country had one tiny moment of hopefulness. He said he wanted the country to come together. But we know better. He must have just been tired because it was three in the morning. It took all of 24 hours for him to prove that unity is not really what he wants. Your “real” candidate showed us who he was for 18 months, well, actually he has showed us for decades.

Since election night, your candidate, who pretends he wants to unite the very forces of evil he empowered and the very divides he created and exploited, has chosen the head of Breitbart, who while it was under his leadership was allowed to barter in hate speech and anti-Semitism, to drive his strategy. He is trying to appoint an Attorney General with a history of racism and demeaning LGBTQ people. He has asked for security clearance for his son-in-law who decided to rid your team of someone who actually had experience governing because of personal vengeance. He has included his daughter — whom he said would go run the business — in meetings that she should not be in, both because of security clearances but more importantly, because of the massive conflict of interest. He insulted people for taking to the streets to protest, a right they are guaranteed, by the way, in this country.

After all this, now he’s upset? He’s upset? Poor defenseless Mike Pence needs an apology? If your candidate wants to call for apologies, please suggest he look in the mirror and make a list of the people to whom he personally needs to apologize: women, people with disabilities, immigrants Gold Star families, Muslims, Latinos. other Republican presidential candidates…. He has never apologized to the people he has insulted and disrespected and he has never apologized to the people whose civil rights he is threatening through his words and actions.

But this man doesn’t care about apologies. He told us so over and over.

Don’t think for a moment we haven’t caught on.

Actions do indeed speak louder than words, although you are all very smart. Your strategy to try to make words — and tweets — speak louder than actions is not going to work.

All this is is another example of your clever diversion strategy. Your tweet underlines what he said and you all think that you can stir up controversy on something that will divert people from the real thing.

You can’t divert us with a tweet.

During the campaign you personally referred to former President Clinton settling a lawsuit and said people didn’t pay a million dollars to settle something they didn’t do. And there goes your candidate on Friday, agreeing to pay $25 million to settle a lawsuit which indicates, by your very own logic, that he clearly ripped off thousands of Americans. This capped off a heck of a first week — bringing Breitbart strategy into the White House, bringing an opponent of civil rights into the Justice department and on and on and on — the man who has never genuinely apologized for anything, decides that poor Mike Pence needs an apology?

You lost the popular vote. You won the office. But within two weeks you are already failing to do the most important thing: unite the country. You could leave these things alone and try to let people heal. Goodness me, you could even reach out a hand to someone you disagree with. But no. Instead, you continue to fan the flames of divisiveness. Are you proud of that?

You may as well get used to booing and hissing and protesting and speaking up. While your campaign — and your president-elect-who-lost-the-popular-vote — don’t seem to have read it, the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to free speech. What Mr. Pence witnessed last night was one of the most eloquent, respectful acts of free speech I have ever seen. Shame on you for saying that you agree he deserves an “apology.” He should have stood there, thanked them, and applauded. And if your candidates and your team keep responding like this, it will fuel the fire, not unite the country. I almost think that the people not respecting the office may be the ones who are taking it over.

I have no sympathy for Mr. Pence. None. If anyone in this ridiculous “controversy” should apologize, it’s the vice-president elect. Through his actions as governor he has fought to take away the rights of good and decent people throughout the state. He has created pain and suffering for women, their families and gay people across the State of Indiana. Throughout the campaign, he repeatedly denied that his running mate had said and done things he clearly said and did. We all saw the video.

Ms. Conway, your candidate has more to apologize for from the last four months than the entire cast of Hamilton probably has to apologize for in their collective lifetimes. Shame on you for using your talents to support a man who cannot get away from his own insults. And for you to have the gall to come out and suggest that they did something wrong? You have got to be kidding.

I’m really disappointed — he seems to listen to you, or at least when you are around him he is less offensive, but now it seems like you are joining in his kind of behavior rather than protecting him from himself. Sadly, because of your election victory, we all have to be protected from him now.

You won this election and for that I congratulate you. But one last thing: please be accurate. The one you refer to with #yourvicepresident is actually #yourvicepresidentelect. Jumping the gun with your guy is disrespectful. I would ask you to treat the current Vice President with the respect with which he has due. He most certainly deserves it.

Now that you have this big platform and you have people paying attention, don’t you think there are more important things to talk about? Let’s get to work on the business of governing, shall we?

If you’ve seen “Hamilton” you may want to remember one of its lessons: “history has its eyes on you” too, Ms. Conway.

Of all the people involved in this, I think you are the one who disappoints me the most.

With sympathy,

Jane Melvin

P.S. Perhaps you might tweet about this, Ms. Conway.