The Republican National Convention kicked off recently in Cleveland, and the opening day went pretty much how everyone expected, in that it was a spectacularly embarrassing and politically disgraceful shit-show. There was plenty of clashing rallies, speakers with no political credibility, and good old-fashioned ignorance to go around, but of course the one thing that flooded the headlines was Republican Presidential nominee and self-proclaimed genius, Donald Trump. For once, everyone isn't talking about what Trump said (he only took the stage to introduce his wife Melania Trump), but rather what he did. For his first onstage appearance at the RNC, Trump made a flashy, smoked-laced entrance to "We Are the Champions" by Queen.
That was what finally broke me. I know it's a small thing compared to the horrible bile Trump's been spewing into the airwaves for the past year or so, but I can't take it anymore. Maybe it's because "We Are the Champions" is one of my favorite songs, maybe it's because I used to watch Queen's 1985 Live Aid performance (below) at least three times a day for two years, but watching Trump waltz up to the podium with his usual obnoxious self-assurance to that song, I felt like I had to say something. I tend to be pretty private about my political beliefs, however I can't be silent anymore, because Trump using that song is absolutely wrong on so many levels and embodies everything that is wrong with his campaign, the RNC, and the GOP platform as a whole.
First off, to really understand "We Are the Champions," you need to understand who wrote it: Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on September 5, 1946 in the Sultanate of Zanzibar (now Tanzania), a small area in East Africa. Mercury and his family fled from Zanzibar due to the 1964 revolution, and moved to England, where he eventually met Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon, and formed Queen. Being bisexual at a time when sexual orientation was even more controversial than it is today, Mercury was proud and unashamed of his lifestyle even with his massive fame. Though he refused to outright talk about his sexuality to reporters and tabloids, it was mostly because he didn't feel obligated to elaborate, rather than he was afraid to elaborate. Mercury tragically died of AIDS in 1991, but he lives on as a musical icon and one of the most inspirational LGBT figures of the twentieth century.
All of this brings me back to Trump. If it's not clear why it's so upsetting Trump used "We Are the Champions" by now, let me put it in simple terms: Donald Trump, a man whose political platform consists of building a wall along the Mexican border, imposing a travel ban on all Muslims, and eliminating any protections and rights for the LGBT community, made his entrance to a song written by a bisexual immigrant. Yes, it's hilarious that Trump was too high on his own air to realize this fact, but in hindsight of the entire 2016 election season thus far, it's just sad. It's sad that a man who is so careless about the things he says or does has won the support of millions to the point where he's a legitimate presidential candidate. It's sad that a major political party has allowed for such extremist and hateful rhetoric to bubble to the surface and threaten to take social progress back to the 1950s. Most of all, it's sad that a song about overcoming all obstacles in the face of impossible odds, an anthem sung by a man proud of who he was and inspires countless others to also be proud of who they are, was used in a setting fueled by ignorance, fear, and bigotry. By using this song, Trump is not only embarrassing himself, but it also shows how clueless, tone-deaf, and ambivalent he is to anyone other than himself. Putting a man like that in the highest political position in the US would not only be shameful, it would be outright dangerous.
I know this seems like a pretty strong reaction to about a minute of footage, but I felt like it needed to be said. Queen has obviously stated their disapproval of Trump's use of their song, and people have thankfully caught onto the irony, so those are both comforting notions. Possibly the biggest shame about this whole event is that regardless of Freddie Mercurys original message, "We Are the Champions" will now be associated with Trump and his campaign. I just hope that will still hear this song and think about its original message of perseverance and beating all odds, because God knows we'll all need some motivation for this coming election.