Members of Presidential Arts Commission Quit in Blazing Fashion: 'Your Values Are Not American Values'
The President's Committee on the Arts & the Humanities submitted a resignation letter to Donald Trump on Friday, in the wake of his reaction to the violent Charlottesville events from last weekend.
The 17-member committee is an official White House agency and includes actor Kal Penn, artist Chuck Close and lawyer Vicki Kennedy, Sen. Ted Kennedy's widow.
"The false equivalencies you push cannot stand," wrote the committee members, presumably referring to Trump saying that both the white supremacists and the counterprotestors are to blame for Charlottesville. “We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions." The letter states that ignoring Trump's "hateful rhetoric" would have made the committee complicit with Trump's words and actions.
The committee was appointed by former President Obama and hasn't met yet under Trump but Politico reports it has continued to work on its programming.
“You released a budget which eliminates arts and culture agencies. You have threatened nuclear war while gutting diplomacy funding," the letter continued. "The administration pulled out of the Paris agreement, filed an amicus brief undermining the Civil Rights Act and attacked our brave trans service members. You have subverted equal protections, and are committed to banning Muslims and refugee women & children from our great country."
In conclusion, the letter states that "Supremacy, discrimination and vitriol are not American values." It ends by calling on Trump to resign his office if this isn't clear to him.
Texas Law professor Steve Vladeck pointed out on Twitter that the first letter of each paragraph of the letter spells out "resist."
Read the full letter:
Dear Mr. President:
Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville. The false equivalencies you push cannot stand. The Administration’s refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill. We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions. We are members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The Committee was created in 1982 under President Reagan to advise the White House on cultural issues. We were hopeful that continuing to serve in the PCAH would allow us to focus on the important work the committee does with your federal partners and the private sector to address, initiate, and support key policies and programs in the arts and humanities for all Americans. Effective immediately, please accept our resignation from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Elevating any group that threatens and discriminates on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, orientation, background, or identity is un-American. We have fought slavery, segregation, and internment. We must learn from our rich and often painful history. The unified fabric of America is made by patriotic individuals from backgrounds as vast as the nation is strong. In our service to the American people, we have experienced this first-hand as we traveled and built the Turnaround Arts education program, now in many urban and rural schools across the country from Florida to Wisconsin.
Speaking truth to power is never easy, Mr. President. But it is our role as commissioners on the PCAH to do so. Art is about inclusion. The Humanities include a vibrant free press. You have attacked both. You released a budget which eliminates arts and culture agencies. You have threatened nuclear war while gutting diplomacy funding. The Administration pulled out of the Paris agreement, filed an amicus brief undermining the Civil Rights Act, and attacked our brave trans service members. You have subverted equal protections, and are committed to banning Muslims and refugee women & children from our great country. This does not unify the nation we all love. We know the importance of open and free dialogue through our work in the cultural diplomacy realm, most recently with the first-ever US Government arts and culture delegation to Cuba, a country without the same First Amendment protections we enjoy here. Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed.
Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions. We took a patriotic oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.