Trump’s Arts committee resigns in protest over Charlottesville remarks

Trump’s Arts committee resigns in protest over Charlottesville remarks
All but one member of the President’s Committee to the Arts and Humanities have resigned in protest over President Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The 16 prominent arts figures, including Broadway and Hollywood actors, released a letter to Trump explaining their decision.

“Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” they wrote in a letter to Trump. “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.”

Among those resigning were film actor Kal Penn, stage actor John Lloyd Young, musician Paula Boggs, painter Chuck Close, and writer Jhumpa Lahiri. The one holdout was New York theater director George C. Wolfe, but his representative told the Associated Press he was in fact resigning as well.

A number of journalists pointed out that the first letter of each paragraph spelled out the word “resist.”

Most of the members were appointed under the Obama administration, and some had said they expected to resign once Trump took office but they were asked to stay on by Trump’s team, at least during the transition.

The committee members’ move comes after a wave of CEOs – including Kenneth Frazier of Merck and Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup – quit Trump’s two business advisory councils in protest. Trump then disbanded both the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy & Policy Forum on Wednesday.

READ MORE: ‘No way can we accept racism’: Sessions fails to assuage anger over Trump's Charlottesville response

While Trump has unequivocally condemned neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white supremacists as “evil,” in a Tuesday press conference he pointed out that the “alt-left” counter-protesters took part in violence as well, and that there was “blame on both sides.”

A number of people were injured during the clashes between the two groups last Saturday. Later in the day, a car driven by one of the white nationalist marchers crashed into the crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people. Trump called the driver a “murderer” and “a disgrace to himself, his family and his country.”

The arts council was created in 1982 under the Reagan administration to advise the president on arts and cultural issues. The private members are appointed by the President and represent prominent artists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and state and local public officials.

In addition to the private members of the council, a number of administration officials serve as members of the board. Among them are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. First Lady Melania Trump serves as the honorary chairwoman.

READ MORE: Trump shuts down two corporate advisory bodies after CEO exodus