The media, including established outlets like CNN have blasted Hamilton-the musical for it’s recent casting call requesting NON-WHITE actors. Hamilton is a hip hop based musical that casts black and Latino actors to play the roles of founding fathers in a retelling of the nation’s history. The internet has been set ablaze with cries of reverse racism and a stoking of white grievance as this explicit call for blacks and Latinos ONLY clearly discriminates against whites. While most major media outlets could not get enough of stoking the notion that whites are being disadvantaged by Hamilton, WORTHY MAGAZINE decided to be real journalists and conduct actual research. What we “discovered” was that MOST casting calls specifically in TV and Movies specify the race of the actors REQUIRED! And more shockingly, MOST of the casting calls available to the public REQUIRE WHITE ACTORS. The listings generally specify Caucasian actors and represent a difference between Broadway and Hollywood. In specifying a need for actors of color Hamilton was not engaged in some egregious and unprecedented act of discrimination. They were in fact simply abiding by the best practices of the acting industry and these practices have NEVER warranted attention from the major media outlets. While these practices have been a source of concern for minority actors, the broader public has never been concerned for the minority actors specifically uninvited by most of the available casting calls. It is also worth noting that merely stating an openness to all ethnicity as Broadways shows are accustomed does not make it so. Further, according to some actors we interviewed there is quite nearly a separate casting season in Hollywood for African American actors who are added into scripts often as an after thought. The incredible hypocrisy of outrage over one of the few minority lead Broadway shows being maligned for requesting minority actors when the vast majority of Hollywood castings specifically discriminate against minority actors is a continuation of the sense of privilege and entitlement that recoils when the discrimination that is persistently practiced against others is visited upon the majority. Furthermore, a brief review of Broadway’s top shows will suggest that the “openness” to “all ethnicities” is largely rhetorical as minority actors seem to be concentrated in shows thematically and culturally targeted as such, while most shows are overwhelmingly homogeneous in their non-minority makeup. If we are to be outraged by Hamilton’s casting call, why are we not offended by Hollywood’s common practice or by the circumstantial apparent practices of Broadway’s largely homogeneous casts. We have traditionally given the acting industry great latitude in preferring races and many have expressed annoyance when minorities demand access to greater roles, why then has the cast of Hamilton been attacked for inverting the practice. We have screen shot a few publicly available Casting Calls! It should be noted that these are not obscure productions. One of the castings we have posted are for NBC, a major network!
Bernie Sanders was expected to lose the state of Michigan and get trounced in the state of Mississippi. While Sanders was demolished in Mississippi as expected, he was miraculously lifted to victory in Michigan 50% to 48%. The thin margin of victory compels an analysis of what communities drove the razor thin win. The United States has long been a nation that defied common wisdom, transcended division and overcame the stumbling blocks of past conflicts. Tonight, the Muslim community in Michigan contributed a new chapter to our collective story of triumph over tribalism. In the first serious attempt to seek the Presidency by a Jewish American, Muslim Americans in Michigan supported Bernie Sanders by overwhelming margins. It is important to note that Muslims were merely a factor in a multi-variable calculus that caused Sanders to succeed (such as an over-performance among African Americans and under-performance by Clinton). Michigan is one of the few states that hosts a significant Muslim and Arab population. Throughout the Middle East, antisemitism in the Islamic World is not rare. Conflicts like the Israeli and Palestinian struggle for statehood have helped foment strife between the Abrahamic communities. A multitude of terrorist organizations and even some duly elected governments in Islamic states have called for the extermination of the state of Israel and of Jews in general. The cantankerous relationship has resulted in a global stereotype of strife between Jews and Muslims that lead many political observers to presume that Bernie Sanders would be roundly rejected by predominantly Muslim communities. And yet, online periodicals like The Arab American News endorsed Senator Sanders. The Arab American News wrote:
“With the senator from Vermont, we have a historic opportunity to elect a principled politician who has remained true to his message from the days he was protesting with the civil rights movement to the day he proclaimed himself a democratic socialist on national television while running for president.
Most Arab Americans are hardworking, middle class families. The concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent of the nation’s richest people impacts this community directly. Sanders’ tax reforms and promised social programs would level the playing field for Americans to realize the American Dream.
Sanders stands for racial justice and has unequivocally condemned Islamophobia.
Sanders is a Jewish American. This newspaper and the community at large do not have a bias against anyone’s ethnic or religious affiliation. Ideas are what matters.
The newspaper does not trust Clinton’s interventionist inclinations. As secretary of state, she was a leading force behind the bombing campaign in Libya in 2011. There is no doubt that Muammar Gaddafi was a dictator who abused his people. But the hasty war on Libya, which was dubbed as humanitarian, led to that North African nation becoming a failed state. Now, two governments and countless militant groups, including ISIS, rule the once-stable country.
A CNN poll revealed this week that Sanders would beat Trump by a bigger margin than Clinton. According to the poll, the former secretary of state would top Trump 52 to 44 percent; Sanders would beat the real estate mogul 55 to 43 percent.
Even if Sanders does not succeed in winning the nomination, it is important for our community to vote for him, so he can promote his platform and communicate his ideas to the American public, taking his campaign all the way to the Democratic Convention. Between now and then, anything is possible.
Arab Americans need to stand for principles. In Sanders, we have a principled politician who is showing strength and courage in his campaign.
True to the history of America, American Muslims defied the conventional wisdom and at a ratio of 64% to 36% supported Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as proudly Jewish. Some have called the Michigan victory, the most stunning upset in recent political history.
The most common quip, used to discredit the proposals of Bernie Sanders as pie-in-the sky fantasies is that he is offering FREE STUFF. The refrain is designed to caricature his ideas as impractical, poorly conceived and insincere. His primary opponent alleges that the admitted socialist is simply making empty promises to misguided youths that are naive in their belief that anything in life could ever be free. While we should take issue with the lack of a detailed financial manifesto from the rising Presidential powerhouse, we should also lay waste to the notion that Bernie Sanders is offering Americans FREE STUFF.
In reality, Bernie Sanders is uncommonly honest in the level of sacrifice he calls upon from every American. It is common practice for Republicans to propose cuts to the federal budget without paying due deference to the pain that will result as a consequence of those cuts. During the last government shut down, Republicans even suggested that closing the government and it’s associated agencies would be without any inconvenience to Americans. Democrats too are often fond of proposing new government programs without reconciling the costs of those programs and yet these are the voices that are most critical of Sanders and his proposed FREE STUFF.
Senator Sanders has proposed tuition free community colleges and fully paid for Public Universities but he has never suggested that this would be free. Instead he has suggested that this perk of citizenship be covered by the taxes that we all currently pay. We may quibble with the precise cost of the proposal but we cannot say that Bernie Sanders is offering FREE STUFF. He is simply suggesting that instead of borrowing thousands of dollars per semester and carrying with each loan significant interest, students should be permitted to pay for their educations over the course of their entire life-times, in small regularly paid installments also known as TAXES! Far from offering FREE STUFF Mr. Sanders is uncharacteristically honest in confessing that he will raise the taxes of middle class and wealthy citizens. We may as individuals assess if the benefits of collectively purchased amenities to our culture outweigh the proposed increase in taxes but again, He hasn’t offered anything for free!
Despite Mr. Sanders marketing himself as an avowed socialist, I question sincerely why his proposal is derided with such intense cold war heat. In the minds of most Americans we are a Democratic Republic despite offering fully paid for K-12 educations for all. This begs the question of why critics assert that we would suddenly morph into a soviet commune for simply extending our publicly paid for offering from K-12 to K-16? Mr. Sanders is simply suggesting that the term Public have meaning for Public Universities. He is suggesting that Community Colleges should be affordable for those in the community. And he is making provision for each individual to pay for his or her education by obligating them to pay into an admittedly collectivized pool for the entirety of their lives. In some sense Sanders is propheting the conservative notion that every individual has the personal responsibility to pay for an education.
Those that are puzzled by the attraction Americans have to Sander’s proposal should consider that many Americans pay significant portions of their incomes in taxes and feel very little benefit. They drive along roads that are unsightly, transit in Airports that are unworthy of a great nation and protest the expenditure of their tax dollars on wars with which they disagree. The success of Sanders can be seen as the triumph of the notion that Americans want to see a tangible value for the taxes they are currently paying in ways that directly benefit them.
The Sanders proposal for Universal Healthcare is socialized medicine but the notion that socialized or collectively bargained and paid for services are free is a gross misnomer. When citizens pay taxes for services, they have paid for them. They have not been “given” anything. Public Schools are not free. When the government contracts with a private company to pave roads near your home, this service was not free. The term handout cannot be used to characterize services for which an individual has paid her/his fair share of taxes. To do so would be like characterizing a paid buffet as a free meal. They have in fact, paid for their portion. If we are going to criticize the proposals of Presidential hopefuls we should do so with accuracy and an appreciation for nuance.
Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders were finally alone in their last debate before the New Hampshire Primary. The removal of former Governor Martin O’malley proved to be surprisingly impactful as the two hopefuls sparred in the best political match of the season. The event hosted by MSNBC stars Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow was undoubtedly the best of innumerable debates on a multitude of channels. There were no attempts at mockery in this debate and no allusions to the marital status of any other candidates, instead the two politicians engaged in substantive exchanges aimed squarely at the nation’s most pressing issues. Emerging from the debate were fewer distinctions in values and instead a display of the Democratic Party’s struggle between pragmatism and idealism. Hillary Clinton emphasized that she is a battle tested acolyte and a known quantity. Voters, she humorously quipped know just about everything there is to know about her life. Clinton argued with Sanders that she too is a believer in Universal Healthcare but her idealism has been tempered by the political realities of her decades long struggle with America’s most powerful political interests. Sanders positioned himself as the unapologetic advocate for the truest aims of the Democratic base and the ideals of the Great Society. Sanders painted himself as untarnished by Wall-street’s bribery and Clinton struggled to explain how she was not left compromised by her acceptance of speaking fees that soared above a half-a million dollars per hour of speaking. Sanders scored significantly in the domestic discussion, nestled comfortably in his wheel-house as he continued to promote campaign finance reform, wrenching the big banks apart to prevent another “Too Big To Fail” crisis, Universal Healthcare and even his most controversial Free College movement. Sanders was summarily dismissed from the stage once the conversation turned to Foreign Policy which has become the sole dominion of Hillary Clinton. Sanders was visibly out of his element when discussing world affairs and Clinton made her most impressive rational for her candidacy which stands firmly on her level of expertise.
The debate was notable for the sharp tonal edge of what Clinton herself described as a “Vigorous Agreement”. Sanders successfully portrayed Clinton as the spouse of Wall Street while Clinton successfully portrayed herself as the pragmatic advocate of incremental progress. Clinton suggested that she represents competent administration and a plausible means to progressive ends. The debate landed squarely on Sanders as representative of democratic idealism and Clinton effectively arguing that Sanders is well intention-ed but delusional regarding the likelihood of his success.
The New Hampshire Debate was quite simply, spectacular. Who Won the exchange depends simply on the weight one gives toward the Heart or the Head, the Ego versus the Super-Ego and Idealism tempered by Pragmatism.
In 2016, will it be Elizabeth Warren vs. Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden vs. Hillary? Who will attempt to take on the unstoppable juggernaut of Clinton Inc? Who would take on this fools errand? A simple sampling of the political landscape reveals that there is still one candidate, largely missed thus far by pundits. There is only one candidate, on the democratic side that has both a well known longing to be President and a compelling set of credentials to be President. That person is John Kerry! The current Secretary of State has run for President before and lost. While the typical cliche in politics declares that no one likes and looser, another popular political refrain notes that once someone gets the bug to be President, it NEVER goes away! And if this week goes well for the Secretary of State, John Kerry may have the only cogent argument a candidate can make against Hillary Clinton. If this week goes well, John Kerry might be able to say that he was a better Secretary of State then Hillary. The legendary Mrs. Clinton has developed a popularity and respect apart from her husband’s efforts, based on her mythical work ethic and often heralded competency. But if John Kerry is able to forge a strong agreement with Iran that curbs their nuclear ambitions he can claim to have done what Hillary could not. The truth of the matter is of-course more complex but in politics, truth isn’t just relative, it is malleable. This argument, in combination with the admittedly absurd Benghazi accusations undermines the mythology of Clinton’s competency. Pundits are in great error to exclude John Kerry in their endless prognostications of the next election cycle. He is qualified. He is capable. And most importantly, he really wants to be President!