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Kal Penn Leads Parade Of Resignations From President Trump’s White House Arts Panel

Kal Penn Leads Parade Of Resignations From President Trump’s White House Arts Panel
Updated 9 months ago

Actor Kal Penn led the charge for 16 members of the Presidential Committee on the Arts and Humanities to resign in response to Trump's comments in the aftermath of the deadly Charlottesville protests. 

"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. The false equivalencies you push cannot stand," wrote 16 members in a letter to Trump.

After Friday morning's letter, the 17th and final member, playwright George C. Wolfe, tendered his resignation:

The resignation follows the exodus of two major business CEOs from two of Trump's jobs advisory panels. 

The Committee on the Arts and Humanities started in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan, and was intended to serve as an advisory to the White House on cultural matters. Members included artists from Hollywood, Broadway and other artistic communities.

The 17-member Committee included Penn, painter and photographer Chuck Close, and entertainment executive Fred Goldring, among others. First Lady Melania Trump served as its honorary chairwoman. 

According to Talking Points Memo, Kal Penn approached the group about resigning in protest. In drafting the letter to the president, it was Penn's idea to begin each paragraph with letters that spelled: "RESIST."

Nope, not a coincidence:

Trump's refusal to condemn white supremacists for the violence in Charlottesville wasn't the only impetus for the artists to sign the letter. Members were also furious over the President eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, his perpetual bashing of the press, and pulling out of the Paris Accord. 

“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," they wrote. 

In conclusion, they added, “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.” 

Twitter users embraced the letter: