The dictionary defines momentous as ‘very important or significant, especially in having a bearing on future events.’
It usually takes hindsight to describe a day as ‘momentous.’ But the day before yesterday was so momentous that I’m already thinking of it as Sunday 12th June 2016.
Two records were broken. The first rampaged round the world: 49 people shot dead in a Florida nightclub. The second was quieter but let’s hope more momentous in its ‘bearing on future events’: the nomination of the musical Hamilton for 16 Tony Awards (it won 11 on Sunday night). One is so terrible, one so triumphant you wonder that they happened on the same planet, let alone the same coast of the same country. Comparing the two events may seem insulting – tragic versus trite – but how they capture two extremes of attitude. In Orlando, a hate-breathing madman attacked three groups – LGBT, Hispanic and of course Muslim too – while New York judges honoured a musical that celebrates the country’s fantastic, deep-rooted diversity.
The split played out in the political response, with Hillary Clinton calling for outreach to Muslims and a ban on assault weapons, while Donald Trump repeated his call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration and said that more guns at the nightclub would have stopped the mass shooting.
The facts are undeniable: 49 dead, 11 Tony awards. Both are simple, stark truths about Sunday. Which will we focus on: hatred, fear and intolerance, or outreach and embrace of difference?
‘This is a day of tragedy. I’m in a room with people who made new art and new music this year … and I feel like we need to celebrate it more than ever.’ Lin-Manuel Miranda, Creator of Hamilton
’Hate will never win. Together we have to make sure of that. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle.’ James Cordon hosting the Tonys