Members of the US President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities have announced their resignation after Donald Trump’s controversial response to the violence in Charlottesville — and it would appear they left a hidden message while doing so.
Actor Kal Penn, artist Chuck Close and all but one of the other committee members signed a letter dated on Friday, citing the “false equivalence” of Mr Trump’s comments about last weekend’s Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mr Trump blamed “many sides” for the demonstrations that left an anti-racism activist dead.
“Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” the letter read.
“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.”
But the letter also seemed to contain a hidden political message beyond the one stated openly — the first initial of each paragraph spelt out “resist”, a popular anti-Trump rallying cry.
The only member whose name did not appear was Broadway director George C Wolfe, whose representatives said was also resigning and his name would be added to the letter.
Kal Penn’s tweet: Dear @realDonaldTrump, attached is our letter of resignation from the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities
Trump already decided to scrap committee: White House
The White House said Mr Trump had already decided against renewing the advisory committee for budgetary reasons.
“Earlier this month it was decided that President Trump will not renew the executive order for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), which expires later this year,” the White House said in a statement attributed to an unnamed spokesperson.
“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.”
Earlier this week, two business advisory councils were disbanded as members left in protest.
Friday’s exodus heightened the arts world’s contentious relationship with Mr Trump.
The President struggled to find entertainers, many of whom backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, to perform at his inaugural gala, and Kennedy Center honourees for lifetime achievement have already said they will not attend the White House reception in December.
The President had already recommended defunding the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
The arts and humanities committee was established in 1982 under president Ronald Reagan and, with the first lady serving as honorary chair, works with both government and private agencies in promoting the arts through such programs as Turnaround Arts and Save America’s Treasures.