Trump's Arts Committee Resign En Masse After Charlottesville Comments

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All members resigned together after President Donald Trump blamed "both sides" for the violent and deadly incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump walks off his plane.

President Donald Trump's White House is in disarray. And now, all members of his arts and humanities panel just announced they are stepping down effective immediately.

The 17 members of the advisory panel wrote a letter to the president stating that their decision was made based on his comments following the violence seen this past weekend in Charlottesville.

Members, who were holdovers from the President Barack Obama administration, include photographer and painter Chuck Close, entertainment executive Fred Goldring, New Mexico's former head of cultural affairs Jill Udall, and actor Kal Penn, who penned the resignation letter.

“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,” Penn wrote. “The false equivalencies you push cannot stand.”

Calling Trump's views ones of bigotry and saying that what he stands for isn't inherently American, Penn added that “[s]upremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values.”

The letter was originally issued early Friday with only 16 signatures, but member George C. Wolfe, the playwright, added his name to the letter by the afternoon.

Penn used social media to share the document, announcing to his followers that all members had walked away in unison.

The Committee on the Arts and the Humanities was put into existence by President Ronald Reagan in 1982. Under Trump, wife and first lady Melania Trump serves as its honorary chairwoman.

This move is important because previously, members of Trump's business councils had taken similar steps, forcing the president to take to Twitter to say he had shuttered the groups himself.

By issuing the letter and leaving the committee en masse and together, arts committee members were able to take control over the narrative without giving the president the chance to flip the story for his benefit. This may give others the idea that they, too, are free to turn their backs to the president.

With so many leaving, after being fired or because they are simply done with the president's rhetoric, who will be left?

Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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