The President's Committee on the Arts abruptly disbanded this morning, quitting the administration en masse after what they claim has been a spate of "hateful rhetoric" from the White House. They issued an open letter to the public explaining the reasons for their departure.
The President's Committee on Arts & Humanities now quit: “Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words&actions" pic.twitter.com/IWzgIVQjc2— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) August 18, 2017
But while its no surprise some officials — including a number of officials close to the President and in the upper eschelons of the Republican Party — are expressing distaste at Trump's slow, and often unclear, response to the weekend's clash in Charlottesville between the 'alt-right' and Antifa that left one woman dead at the hands of a white supremacist, an entire department of the Trump Administration picking up and leaving over it is noteworthy.
Unless, if course, that entire department is the President's Committee on the Arts. Its not clear Donald Trump was aware the body even existed because most of the current (or, rather, now former) council members are people who actively opposed Trump in the presidential campaign.
The first name on the list is Paula Boggs, a musician who has donated to such notable Trump supporters as Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Patty Murray, and, when those candidates didn't prove progressive enough, Jill Stein. Chuck Close, who does "abstract portraiture" led a campaign to raise thosands for Clinton from "starving" and up-and-coming artists in New York City. A custom portrait he did of the losing candidate sold at auction for $50,000 — proceeds went to Clinton's abortive "Correct the Record" campaign.
Eric Ortner, also listed on Open Secrets as one of President Obama's top bundlers, amassed between $50,000 and $100,000 in funds for Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.
Worst among the "non-partisan" Committee members may be Kalpen Modi, better known as comedian Kal Pen. He not only supported Democrats financially, he actually worked in President Obama's White House as a millennial liasion. He was awarded his position on the council as a "thank you" for his hard work building a grassroots movement to support the Obama agenda.
You get the drift; this is not exactly a bunch that just suddenly found themselves riddled with guilt for serving the current president.
The signatories aren't the only evidence that this "mass revolt" has been in the works for sometime. Although the letter lists Trump's "hateful rhetoric" as their primary cause for departure, saying they refuse to be "complicit" in the president's "words and actions," the claims quickly veer into more general territory. Among the group's (oddly non-arts related) concerns: a "gutting" of the diplomatic process, a looming threat of nuclear war, the president's decision to leave the toothless Paris climate accords, Trump's "ban" on Muslims, and, of course, the top priority of any organization concerning itself with maintaining artistic freedom, America's relationship with Cuba (where hundreds of creatives, writers, entertainers, and artists rot in jail for offending the Castro brothers).
As if that weren't enough, the letter employs some very typical doublespeak, calling for the president to embody a more open and tolerant mind toward those he disagrees with, but listing their goal in writing the letter as being to "reproach and censor" the president. Freedom of speech and whatnot.
Finally, there's even a nugget of conclusive proof this letter wasn't thrown together overnight. The note contains an acrostic.