Hamilton's right to discriminate free market

Defend Hamilton’s Right to Discriminate

You can imagine the backlash if, in this day and age, a business looking to hire put up a sign that read, in all capitals, “BLACKS NEED NOT APPLY.” It is the opposite making headlines just now, with the Broadway smash Hamilton’s casting call reading: “Hamilton” is “seeking NON-WHITE men and women, ages 20s to 30s, for Broadway and upcoming Tours.”

Some people have shrugged this off as ‘business as usual’ while lamenting that that doesn’t make it right. Others have expressed outrage at the “ageism” expressed in the casting call, given it is asking for people in their 20s and 30s. It has been suggested that perhaps the casting call should have been phrased in an inclusive way rather than an exclusive way.

It might be tempting to glory in the fact that someone is getting called out for discriminating against white people. After all, there is often the feeling that institutions like colleges and universities get away with giving preference to minority students and faculty over white students and faculty.

Actually, conservatives should be defending Hamilton’s casting call. This isn’t because it’s a great musical (it is) or because we ought to be supporting affirmative action-esque reasoning (we shouldn’t). Rather, conservatives should defend it because it is common sense.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and titular actor, conceived of this play as being performed by primarily non-white actors. He should be able to explicitly advertise for that, rather than surreptitiously choose only non-whites from a lineup including whites. Who wants to waste their hard work and time applying for a position they have no chance at simply because the director can’t be honest about what he’s looking for?

Having been on a faculty search committee, I can tell you firsthand that white male applicants faced steeper odds, although it couldn’t (of course) be stated explicitly. We were told by the head of the department that no one would be discounted if they were qualified, but that “we would really like to have a diverse faculty representation, including women and especially ethnic minorities.” It was phrased very carefully so no one would get into trouble, but everyone on the search committee also knew who the department wanted…and who they didn’t want. If only the applicants might have known too.

Those of us who believe in personal responsibility, self-government, and a preference for laissez-faire economics maintain that people who discriminate in their business will feel some economic repercussions if the public doesn’t support it. That’s the beauty of the free market: You can support or not support who you want, and you can do it for political reasons. Chick-fil-A took a risk by supporting traditional marriage. A lot of people expressed approval with their wallets them, but others won’t give them business anymore. That’s how it should be.

If the racial message or goal of Hamilton riles you, then don’t support it. But don’t cheer from the sidelines about folks’ getting their just desserts. Instead, support Hamilton’s ability to be open and honest about the cast they are looking for and their freedom to choose who they want for those roles. Don’t cave to the idea that government needs to enforce fair hiring practices that ignore personal freedom. Let the market solve.

Author: Virginia Phillips

Virginia Phillips has a M.A. in Religious Studies and an enduring interest in history and politics. In her spare time she writes opinion pieces on current events and theology. She enjoys speculative fiction, martial arts, dancing, and both consuming and preparing food and beverage pairings.

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