On August 18, the entire President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned in the wake of President Donald Trump’s response to the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia. The sixteen members of the committee drafted a strongly-worded letter that emphasized that “art is about inclusion” and the members believed that “ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions.” Committee member Kal Penn shared their resignation letter on Trump’s favorite platform: Twitter.
The letter admonishes the administration that its “refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill.” “We cannot sit idly by, the way your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions,” the letter goes on to say.
The committee was made up of sixteen prominent authors, artists, and performers, including novelist Jhumpa Lahiri and the visual artist Chuck Close. The committee was assembled by President Barack Obama, and had yet to meet during Donald Trump’s presidency. In related news, the White House announced in a statement the following morning that the President and First Lady would not attend the Kennedy Center Honors, an annual ceremony celebrating individual contributions to the arts, “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
In its resignation letter, the literary-minded President’s Committee included a coded message in the form of an acrostic. The first letter of each paragraph spells out R-E-S-I-S-T.