WASHINGTON (CN) – All sixteen members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned in protest on Friday over President Donald Trump’s response to the violent unrest that roiled Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday.
“Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and action,” the members wrote in a letter to the president.
They added, “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. You’re values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this.
“If this is not clear to you,” the letter continued, “then we call on you to resign your office, too.”
The signers of the letter had all originally been appointed by former President Barack Obama, but they were held over by Trump.
They are Kal Penn, Paula Boggs, Chuck Close, Richard Cohen, Fred Goldring, Howard 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 arts committee, which was create in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan, is the only most recent White House advisory panel to disband in the wake of Charlottesville.
Earlier this week Trump disbanded his manufacturing council and the business-related Strategy and Policy Forum after several prominent CEOs walked away from both groups.
In their letter, the arts council members said they could not sit idly by “the way your West Wing advisors have.”
The committee said that the elevation of any group which threatens another on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, orientation, background or identity is “un-American.”
The group, whose honorary chair is first lady Melania Trump, collaborates with teachers, artists and others in the public and private sector to initiate and support arts and humanities programs throughout the country.
The committee also collaborates with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of the Museum and Library Services.
“Art is about inclusion,” the member’s letter said. “The Humanities include a vibrant free press. You have attacked both. You released a budget which eliminates arts and culture agencies. You have threatened nuclear war while gutting diplomacy funding. The administration pulled out of the Paris agreement, filed an amicus brief undermining the Civil Rights Act, and attacked our brave trans service members.”
“You have subverted equal protections and are committed to banning Muslims and refugee women and children from our great country. This does not unify the nation we all love,” the resigning committee members said.