Actor Kal Penn had a simple message for President Donald Trump Friday afternoon: “You can’t break up with us after we broke up with you.”
— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) August 18, 2017
By “us,” Penn meant members of the Presidential Committee on the Arts, which resigned en masse Friday, protesting Trump’s response to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
“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,” members of the committee wrote in a mass resignation letter. “The false equivalencies you push cannot stand.”
One resigned member of the committee, lawyer Andrew Weinstein, credited Penn with the idea to make the first letter in each paragraph of the resignation letter spell “RESIST.” Penn once served in Obama’s White House Office of Public Engagement.
Hours after that letter was made public, According to the New York Times’ Sopan Deb, an unnamed White House spokesperson claimed that Trump had planned to not renew the executive order authorizing the committee “[e]arlier this month.”
“[I]n its current form it simply is not a responsible way to spend American tax dollars,” the anonymous White House spokesperson said.
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2017
The anonymous White House response to the disbanded arts committee had another gaping hole in its logic. It argued against the committee by saying it “merely redirects funding from” other federal agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and Institute of Museum and Library Services. “These cultural agencies do tremendous work and they will continue to engage in these important projects.”
However, Trump’s own proposed budget blueprint would have eliminated all of those agencies.