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Citing Trump remarks on Charlottesville, entire president’s arts council quits

The arts and humanities committee was established in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan and all the current members had been appointed by President Barack Obama.

world Updated: Aug 19, 2017 13:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
President’s Committee On the Arts and Humanities,Kal Penn,Jhumpa Lahiri
Demonstrators shout during a rally in Coolidge Park on Aug. 17, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Organizers said that the purpose of the demonstration, held in response to Saturday's rally by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., was to declare resistance against Nazism.(AP Photo)

Two Indian Americans – actor Kal Penn and author Jhumpa Lahiri – are among 16 members of the US president’s committee on arts and humanities who resigned on Friday, protesting Donald Trump’s remarks regarding the Charlottesville clashes last week.

“Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” they wrote in a joint letter of resignation signed by all but one of the 17 committee members.

“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.”

The letter cited the “false equivalence” of Trump’s comments about last weekend’s “Unite the Right” gathering in Charlottesville. Trump has blamed “many sides” for the demonstrations that left an anti-racism activist dead.

First lady Melania Trump is the honorary head of the committee.

Over the past few days, members of the president’s advisory councils on manufacturing and strategy and policy resigned, forcing him to shut them down. He disbanded the infrastructure council on Thursday.

In a statement Friday, a White House spokesperson said Trump was going to disband the panel anyway.

“While the committee has done good work in the past, in its current form it simply is not a responsible way to spend American tax dollars,” the statement read.

The members of the committee on arts and humanities brought on other issues as well: “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 & children from our great country.”

The arts and humanities committee was established in 1982 under President Ronald Reagan and all the current members were appointed by Barack Obama.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 22:08 IST