President’s Arts and Humanities Committee Members Resign to Protest Trump Comments

“We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions,” members say in a letter to POTUS

Last Updated: August 18, 2017 @ 8:43 AM

Business leaders aren’t the only ones resigning from councils in protest to Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned Friday for the same reason, days after Trump said there were “many sides” to blame. Unlike the CEOs that resigned after Charlottesville, causing Trump to end the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and Strategy & Policy Forum, the PCAH is an official agency, making it the first White House department to resign. Melania Trump is the honorary chair of the committee as First Lady.

“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,” members said in a joint letter to Trump obtained by TheWrap and first reported by The New York Times.

“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,” members wrote. “We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions.”

“Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” they went on to say. “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,” the members said, who were selected by President Barack Obama and carried into Trump’s administration.

In a subtle protest, the first letter of each paragraph spells out the word “Resist,” as you can see in the letter above, which member Kal Penn tweeted Friday morning.

The members include Kal Penn, Paula Boggs, Chuck Close, Richard Cohen, Fred Goldring, Howard L. Gottlieb, Vicki Kennedy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anne Luzzatto, Thom Mayne, Eric Ortner, Ken Solomon, Caroline Taylor, Jill Cooper Udall, Andrew Weinstein, and John Lloyd Young.

The committee was created in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan to advise the White House on cultural issues and to “address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field,” as described on its website. “Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education and cultural exchange.”