Lin-Manuel Miranda’s misleading American revolution

Yes, Hamilton is a masterpiece. The tunes are great, the costumes pleasing, and the melding of rap and hip hop with 18th century constitutional wrangling inspired. You should stream it on Disney Plus as soon as you can.

But there is something unconvincing about the musical retelling of the US treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton’s life. The work’s politics sit oddly with the history of the time, even if they make sense in a year where American shame about its past is felling statues nationwide. Its progressive ‘narrative’, as the kids say, makes for dubious history.

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A double standard exposes Britain’s white discomfort

“To know who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise,” is a quote often misattributed to Voltaire. Seemingly the line is a tidier version of something said by the Neo-Nazi Kevin Alfred Strom in his presentation All America Must Know the Terror That is Upon Us.

The presentation is a long rant, mostly about Jews, Communists and the New World Order, although there’s a few fun asides about “sodomy”, flag-burning, pornography, music videos (“so-called”), and abortion. He even adds some musings on paper money and rap music. The guy is not a fan of modernity.

The quote is most often passed around by slightly sketchy internet people, although an Australian politician, Cory Bernardi, once tweeted it with attribution to the French philosopher and a few people gleefully highlighted its real origins. One morale of the story is that you should google a quote before you tweet it, because some smartarse will.

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A guilt-free ride on the wrong side of history

Even as a hedging sceptic without a party to call home, I still find it easy to forget how differently other people see the world. This amnesia is most obvious when I notice that somebody else differs not just on the topic at hand but on a big assumption that lies underneath.

A video by the YouTuber Leena Norms in which she ‘call herself out’ for political apathy reminded me of this. I’ve met Leena a handful of times and we’ve appeared on each others’ podcasts, including one time in which I explained what it was like to be a leave voter while not being a particularly typical leave voter. I think it’s fair to say she is leftwing and probably thinks of me as rightwing, if only mildly.

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It’s better not to take a knee

In one of the mildest scandals of recent weeks Dominic Raab was criticised for misunderstanding the origin of taking a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. His counterparts in Labour have been photographed genuflecting, in a trend pioneered by the ever-keen Lib Dems.

The foreign secretary said the gesture “seems to be taken” from Game of Thrones, a fantasy series with grizzly deaths and lots of shagging. Given the series ended last May, this is a remarkably current reference for a sitting cabinet minister, but credit for this has been in short supply.

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