Photo by Peter Lewicki on Unsplash

“Hang Down Your Head, Lin-Manuel Miranda”

(Parody of Folk Song “Tom Dooley,” author unknown)

Hang down your head, Lin-Manuel,
Hang down your head and cry,
Hang down your head, Miranda,
Damned cuz your show’s a lie!

You read Chernow on vacation.
800 pages of jingo tripe.
Your Hamilton not based on the real person
But Obama’s wannabe hype.

Hang down your head, Lin-Manuel,
Hang down your head and cry,
Hang down your head, Miranda,
You left out slavery and genocide!

Ishmael Reed such a buzzkill
Picking at the faux-abolition bone.
“Yadda yadda” … white supremacy.
Won’t leave your poetic license alone.

Hang down your head, Lin-Manuel,
Hang down your head and cry,
Hang down your head, Miranda,
As the vics you’ve denied come alive.

With “Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda”
Reed answers your fake history.
Native Americans and slaves’ candor
From grave indict Founding Fathers’ greed.

Hang down your head, Lin-Manuel,
Hang down your head and cry,
Hang down your head, Miranda,
Sold your soul out for capitalism’s pie.

******

I had an exciting and enlightening experience last Thursday evening. I attended a reading of Ishmael Reed’s 2-act play, “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda” directed by award-winning director Rome Neal at The Center at West Park Sanctuary Theater in New York City.

I had read the announcement for this event in an article by Reed on one my favorite political websites, CounterPunch. His play is a satire in answer to the profoundly historically inaccurate Broadway blockbuster “Hamilton.”

Using Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” premise, Reed grants ghosts of some of the victims and heroes of colonial history — Native Americans, slaves, indentured servants, Harriet Tubman, et al. (who astonishingly have been left out of Miranda’s account) — access to a wildly commercial successful, opportunistic, but Ambien-popping and conscience-battling, fictionalized Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Reed is calling out the real Miranda for propagandizing and romanticizing America’s Revolutionary Era and omitting the early, savage dimensions of capitalism for the sake of today’s economically and socially oppressive overlords and their political handmaidens of neoliberalism and capitalism.

I honestly preferred Reed’s play to the frenetic razzle dazzle of Miranda’s “Hamilton” with its gaping historical omissions. Even as a simple reading and without the Broadway show’s rousing hip hop and rap momentum, or its near non-stop music and dancing, Reed’s actors and their dialogue moved me with their important and dramatic disclosures. They offered anecdotal evidence of the horrifying degrees of brutal treatment imposed on those under-classes of human beings by the white elites of a capitalist system set up by our undeservedly mythologized Founding Fathers.

I went to the reading with a friend and warned her to gird herself for the industrial strength disclosures about slavery and Native American genocide undoubtedly to come. They came but the show was written by Reed and performed by those actors giving historically fact-based testimony to a protesting Miranda with such wit, eloquence, clarity and energy that the show consistently uplifted rather than depressed my friend and myself throughout.

A good example of the satiric mischief in creator Reed’s heart was a reference to a “Great White Way Award” intended for the fictional Miranda. I won’t admit just how long it actually took me to recognize the double meaning there: “white way” as Broadway but also as “white supremacy”!

In the aforementioned article in CounterPunch, Ishmael Reed related his own reaction to and experience of Broadway’s “Hamilton”:

“I see Miranda as a victim of state historians. I call them historians of White history…

***

“My headline would be that “Hamilton” is bad jingoistic history salvaged by the brilliant performance of a multicultural cast. There was more diversity on stage than in the audience.

***

“But with this MEGA script, “Hamilton” is like expensive chocolate that you bite into only to find half a worm. I winced for two hours as slave traffickers, and owners like Hamilton, Washington and members of General Schuyler’s family were portrayed as abolitionists. They weren’t. They were cruel to their slaves. Archeologists found the Schuyler family’s slaves remains and concluded that they were subjected to “back-breaking” work and suffered from malnutrition….”

Mr. Reed has been challenged by his detractors to soften his level of outrage or surrender his campaign against Miranda’s disinforming “Hamilton” production. Part of his response (as expressed in the CounterPunch article):

“How can we come together? Distribute my script, ‘The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda,’ to the thousands of students who’ve received the ‘Hamilton’ script, so that students receive both sides of the debate.

“We’re about $5000 short of raising funds for a full production of the play at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which will begin on May 23rd at 7 PM, and run Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for four weeks with a possible extension. …

“In my play, Blacks, Native Americans, and indentured servants, have their say about the events portrayed in ‘Hamilton, The Revolution.’

“If you wish to send checks to support the May 23rd production, mail them to Ishmael Reed, PO Box 3288 Berkeley, California 94703. Make them out to The Before Columbus Foundation, and you will receive a tax deduction. BC has a 501c 3.”

I’m sending a check. I encourage you to, as well. I know on which side of this colonial history I want to be!

# # #

Humanist against the patriarchy.

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