If a celebrity celebrated the release of an abortion clinic bomber from prison, gave the abortion clinic bomber a present, then personally hung out with the abortion clinic bomber, we wouldn’t chalk it up to naïveté; we would conclude that the celebrity liked the idea of bombing abortion clinics.
Lin-Manuel Miranda––yes, that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the “Hamilton” guy, co-star of Disney’s upcoming “Mary Poppins Returns,” recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, awardee of a shiny new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame––did all of those things as an avid supporter of the Puerto Rican nationalist terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera, ringleader of the 1970s terrorist group FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña / Armed Forces of Puerto Rican National Liberation), which murdered at least five and probably six innocent New Yorkers.
If you’ve never heard of Oscar Lopez Rivera or FALN, you can read all about them in Bryan Burrough’s excellent history of the 1970s leftist underground, “Days of Rage.” Lopez Rivera’s FALN tried to murder cops. They murdered four innocent people eating lunch. They murdered a man in his office. They committed strings of bombings in multiple cities.
They managed to support much of this, by the way, because one of their members was the director of a Hispanic-oriented religious outreach organization, and appointed multiple FALN members to her organization’s board, effectively funding FALN by parasitizing the Episcopal Church. Even after this connection was exposed (to much protest from, among others, the leftist National Council of Churches), FALN kept rolling by means of armored car robbery. In 1980, they raided the NYC campaign headquarters of George H.W. Bush and the Chicago headquarters of the Carter-Mondale campaigns, and even threatened convention delegates.
Most of FALN was rounded up on April 3, 1980, during an attempt to rob another armored car, but robbery mastermind Lopez Rivera wasn’t with them at the time. By a curious coincidence, though, another Puerto Rican terrorist group started up shortly after: Puerto Rican Armed Resistance, which bombed Penn Station in New York then set off a bomb at the JFK airport that killed a man.
That bomb used the FALN bomb design, a caller to the New York Post claimed the bombs were the work of FALN’s bombmaker Guillermo Morales, and once Lopez Rivera was busted in a random traffic stop after the JFK bombing, Puerto Rican Armed Resistance was never heard from again. Funny, that.
The FALN members were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for seditious conspiracy. Lopez Rivera himself was “sentenced to 55 years in prison on a variety of charges, including seditious conspiracy, attempted armed robbery, explosives possession, car theft and weapons violations.”
Then, at the end of his presidency, with an eye to New York’s large bloc of Puerto Rican voters and Hillary Clinton’s upcoming senatorial campaign, Bill Clinton offered clemency to FALN members, on the condition they renounced violence. Lopez Rivera refused this condition, so remained behind bars. The Chicago Tribune’s Charles Lane noted his motivation in doing so was solidarity with the plotters behind an FBI-foiled attempt to break him out of prison. (Yeah: the FBI foiled a plot to break him out of prison.)
But everything comes round again, and in the last days of his presidency President Obama gave clemency to Lopez Rivera, no strings attached. This was Miranda’s immediate reaction:
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) January 17, 2017
In an era of social media causing career problems for people––an era in which Disney fired Roseanne Barr from her own show and cut ties with video game streamer Pewdiepie––Miranda celebrated on Twitter, with the honorific “Don Oscar,” no less, the release of an actual terrorist who was the ringleader of a group that committed actual terrorist acts including bombings and multiple murder. Not only did Miranda suffer zero career blowback, but he’s getting ready to open wide for Disney as the costar of “Mary Poppins Returns” and preparing to make his feature film directorial debut with a movie that is literally called “Tick, Tick…Boom.”
It’s Not Just Tweeting, It’s Friendship
Nor is Miranda’s support limited to tweeting; Miranda gave Lopez Rivera a free ticket to see “Hamilton” and personally took him to the show. It turns out that there’s actually an answer to the question “Who do you have to kill to get a ticket to ‘Hamilton?’” and the answer is “Harold Sherburne, Frank Connor, James Gezork, Alejandro Berger, and Charles Steinberg.”
One grotesque irony of this is the location of FALN’s most infamous bombing. Sherburne, Connor, Gezork, and Berger were murdered by FALN while they were eating lunch in the Fraunces Tavern. That is the place George Washington gave his farewell to his officers in 1783. Col. Benjamin Tallmadge described that scene in his memoirs, although he doesn’t note whether Miranda’s subject Alexander Hamilton was present:
We had been assembled but a few moments, when His Excellency entered the room. His emotion, too strong to be concealed, seemed to be reciprocated by every officer present. After partaking of a slight refreshment, in almost breathless silence, the General filled his glass with wine, and turning to the officers, he said: ‘With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.’
After the officers had taken a glass of wine, Gen. Washington said: ‘I cannot come to each of you, but shall feel obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.’
Gen. Knox being nearest to him, turned to the Commander-in-Chief, who, suffused in tears, was incapable of utterance, but grasped his hand; when they embraced each other in silence. In the same affectionate manner, every officer in the room marched up to, kissed, and parted with his General-in-Chief. Such a scene of sorrow and weeping I had never before witnessed, and hope I may never be called upon to witness again. It was indeed too affecting to be of long continuance for tears of deep sensibility filled every eye and the heart seemed so full, that it was ready to burst from its wonted abode.
In “Days of Rage,” Burrough describes the scene a little less than 192 years later:
The duffel [bag], which carried a bomb consisting of roughly ten sticks of dynamite and a propane tank, detonated at 1:22 p.m. The immense explosion collapsed the staircase and blew a hole in the floor seven feet wide. Windows and plate-glass doors shattered in buildings up and down Broad Street; a truck parked outside was wrecked, tossed on its side. The thin wall to the Bissell dining room evaporated. Sitting behind it, Frank Connor and Alex Berger were killed instantly; Jim Gezork would die on the operating table. All around, bodies were thrown into the air, people somersaulting through a blizzard of deadly flying glass. Knives and forks zinged through the restaurant like angry bees, impaling a number of diners; doctors would later remove cutlery from a dozen or more patients. More than forty people were badly injured in the Bissell dining room alone. The force of the explosion erupted upward as well, sending a single floor nail firing through the ceiling like a bullet, where it tore through the bottom of a chair and ripped into the body of a sixty-six-year-old banker named Harold Sherburne, killing him.
Lin-Manuel Miranda had more than 1 million followers on Twitter at the time of his tweets regarding Lopez Rivera’s clemency. He has more than 2.5 million followers on Twitter now. Miranda’s tweets in support of Lopez Rivera have not been deleted; they are still up.
Yet the national response to Miranda’s support for a ringleader of terrorism and multiple murder has been silence. Silence when he tweeted it, silence when he did comic bits at the Oscars, and when he performed on the Oscars’ stage. Except for The Chicago Tribune, which admirably followed up on Miranda’s comments to learn that he followed through, there was silence when he personally escorted a terrorist out to a lovely evening at the theater.
This is remarkable, isn’t it? “Hamilton” is really good, but it’s not “Yay! dead people!” good.
If Miranda Were on the Right, the Media Would Never Rest
Well, there’s no time like the present. Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” co-starring Miranda, is opening December 19. Here are some simple questions any enterprising journalist might take the opportunity to ask Miranda or his sponsors at Disney:
- Do you support an independent Puerto Rico?
- Would you support violence to obtain an independent Puerto Rico?
- If Oscar Lopez Rivera re-formed FALN and they bombed something tomorrow, would you still support him?
- What’s the difference between bombing something tomorrow and bombing something in the 1970s?
- Are you concerned that you’re breaking ground for people who admire abortion clinic bombers?
- Do you have anything to say to the families of Harold Sherburne, Frank Connor, James Gezork, Alejandro Berger, Charles Steinberg, and Alex McMillan?
- Does Disney have any comment on your support for Oscar Lopez Rivera?
- What kinds of terrorists can somebody support and still work for Disney?
- Can anybody who murders innocent people get a free ticket to “Hamilton”?
We’re in a radical age. Domestic terrorism is a real concern and a deservedly serious topic of conversation. Also, one of the preeminent popular artists of our time is an avid supporter of an actual terrorist, and nobody is talking about it. Not only has he received zero blowback, he hasn’t even had to address it.
But Miranda is friendly with Lopez Rivera because FALN’s bombing campaigns murdered people. Not “even though,” because. Otherwise, Miranda would never have heard of Lopez Rivera. And none of his enablers in the press—or, God forbid, his sponsors, most notably Disney—have called him on it. Because, you know. “Hamilton.”