Friday, August 18, 2017

President’s arts and humanities committee resigns over Trump’s Charlottesville response

Edward-Isaac Dovere, [see also]; Via DO on Facebook

First Lady Melania Trump
First Lady of the United States Melania Trump serves as the Honorary Chair of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. [from]

Another advisory group is walking away from President Donald Trump after his equivocation on neo-Nazis and white supremacists, with the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities [PCAH] resigning en masse Friday morning.

“We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions,” members write in a joint letter to Trump obtained by POLITICO, which ends by calling on the president to resign if he does not see a problem with what’s happened this week.

The first letter of each paragraph of the letter spells out "Resist."

The group works with American educators and leads cultural delegations to other countries. Members include artist Chuck Close, actor Kal Penn, author Jhumpa Lahiri and Vicki Kennedy.

Penn tweeted Friday that George C. Wolfe of the Public Theater in New York later added his name to the letter, meaning the full committee quit.

“Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” the letter goes on.

As first lady, Melania Trump serves as the Committee's honorary chair.

Executives fleeing Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and Strategy & Policy Forum led the president to announce on Wednesday, after the fact, that he was ending them anyway. Thursday, he announced the disbanding of the Infrastructure council.

Unlike those groups, the PCAH is an official agency. That makes this the first White House department to resign.

The PCAH letter details a case against Trump that goes deeper than other recent comments.

“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,” the members write. “This does not unify the nation we all love.”

Citing the contrast between America and Cuba, where the group recently led a delegation, the letter says that Trump is eating away at American values.

“Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed,” the letter states.

The 17-member committee was appointed by President Barack Obama and hasn't met under Trump, but it has continued work on some of its programs. Internal discussions throughout the week among its members led to the decision behind Friday's letter.

“Our job is to help protect those who teach America’s story through art and through a free press," said Eric Ortner, a talent manager, producer and manager who signed the letter. Ortner, a former chair of the White House Entertainment Advisory Committee, added: "I wanted to make sure that we were on the right side of American history."

Note on the activities of PCAH during the Obama administration:
In addition to the domestic creative youth development programs, Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba School, representing the field of creative youth development in Cuba, received the International Spotlight Award. This was the first time that an award was presented to an organization from Cuba, and it was one of the outcomes of the President’s Committee’s cultural delegation to Cuba with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Smithsonian Institution in April 2016. As part of the cultural mission, NAHYP Director Traci Slater-Rigaud visited a variety of Cuban creative youth development programs, resulting in this year’s special recognition of the Cuban efforts.


Text of above-cited letter from 

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