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Meet the Villain of In the Heights: Alexander Hamilton

Yo with ninety-six thousand I’d lastly repair housin’/

Give the barrio computer systems with wi-fi net browsin’/

Your youngsters are livin’ with out a good edjumacation/

Change the station, educate ’em about gentrification

The hire is escalatin’/The wealthy are penetratin’/We pay our firms once we needs to be demonstratin’

What about immigration? Politicians be hatin’/Racism on this nation gone from latent to blatant

I’ll money my ticket and picket, put money into protest

By no means lose my focus ’til the town takes discover.

In case you can abdomen the corniness (and with musicals, that’s a part of the deal!), Sonny not solely rightfully connects insufficient housing, lagging investments in public training, and racism, however he additionally factors to class wrestle as the best way to battle again—pointing his finger at “the wealthy” and “firms” and calling for direct motion within the type of protest. (Whereas the film stops in need of portraying, say, civil disobedience or militant labor actions, Sonny does mobilize mates to an immigrant rights protest, the place he reveals that he’s undocumented.) His outrage at neighborhood members’ lack of management over their very own lives may very well be seen as a name for the form of democracy about which Alexander Hamilton by no means significantly cared.

Regardless of his transformation right into a progressive visionary, courtesy of the Broadway megahit bearing his title, Hamilton is extra precisely related to the pursuits of capital than these of abnormal People. Whereas the present celebrates the primary treasury secretary for ushering within the American monetary system, it glosses over the truth that Hamilton’s imaginative and prescient privileged the monied courses from the get-go.

As most troopers in the course of the Revolutionary Struggle have been paid in IOUs, retailers and different speculators had been shopping for them up on a budget from males who couldn’t afford to attend till full compensation—sparking eventual fights among the many Founding Fathers about whether or not to pay precise troopers or these wealthy sufficient to take advantage of them. Not solely did Hamilton aspect with the retailers, he went on to again a regressive whiskey tax as an alternative of a progressive one that may harm their backside strains. When the transfer ultimately sparked a insurrection in 1794, Hamilton needed to ship armed troops to Pennsylvania to squash it.

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