Every Member of the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities has Resigned
…Their Resignation Letter is a Must-Read Masterpiece in Art as Political Resistance.
In the flurry of news that has happened around the world since the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11 (and President Donald Trump’s much criticized response to it), you may have missed a very important story that was buried in most major news outlets out of pure time necessity.
On Friday, August 18, all 15 members of the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities (PCAH) — started in 1982 by Republican President Ronald Reagan — resigned. More notable ex-members of PCAH include various luminaries of the art world — musician, public speaker, and philanthropist Paula Boggs; visual artist Chuck Close; Pulitzer prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri; chairman of Ovation TV, Ken Solomon; trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Caroline Taylor; Tony award-winning actor and singer John Lloyd Young; Emmy award-winning Executive Producer Fred Goldring; Architect and UCLA Professor of Architecture Thom Mayne; and actor Kalpen Modi (Kal Penn). The only remaining member is Honorary Chairwoman, First Lady Melania Trump.
Kal Penn’s tweet announced the letter and attached it for all the world to see.
A quote from the letter’s first paragraph gives a quick breakdown of the Committee’s reasoning:
“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. We took a patriotic oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Other reasons include the Trump Administration’s banning of transgender people from the United States Military, the Administration’s cutting of funding for the arts and public media, and the Administration’s attempts at their travel ban. The full text of the letter can be read below:
Yet, the most interesting part of the letter is undoubtedly the subliminal piece of artistic resistance that is literally spelled out with the first letter of each paragraph. The letter itself is an acrostic spelling “RESIST.”
The letter itself is a rather brilliant protest piece because of the acrostic, and is very well-thought-out. It should be read by everyone who appreciates the arts, regardless of political affiliation.
As to the fate of the Committee itself, all the resigning members were appointed by President Obama. So, in theory, Trump could replace them. Nevertheless, this is especially damaging as it comes on the heels of the exodus of business leaders from White House Advisory Committees which also followed the response to Charlottesville.