As people rush to distance themselves from Donald Trump on the heels of his statements defending white supremacists, the president and First Lady have announced that they will not be participating in the Kennedy Center Honors later this year.
“Each year, the Kennedy Center honors the careers and achievements of artists who have helped shape cultural life in the United States with a weekend that includes celebrations and events,” a White House statement read. “The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
It’s unclear whether any of the honorees would have been left if Trump did decide to attend the ceremony, which recognizes careers in the performing arts.
Carmen de Lavallade, a choreographer being honored at the gala, announced earlier this week that she would skip the White House reception connected to the official ceremony, citing Trump’s “divisive” recent rhetoric.
“In light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative that our current leadership is choosing to engage in, and in keeping with the principles that I and so many others have fought for, I will be declining the invitation to attend the reception at the White House,” she said in a statement.
Responding to Trump’s decision to skip the event, the president and chairman of the Kennedy Center essentially gave a collective sigh of relief.
“In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the honorees,” they said. “We are grateful for this gesture.”
The news comes a day after all 17 members of the White House panel on the arts and humanities resigned en masse, saying to Trump: “Your values are not American values.”
Other White House councils have also disbanded following Charlottesville, signaling that this president is increasingly alone and isolated, even among the people – business leaders – with whom he claimed to have great working relationships.
The longer Donald Trump remains in the White House, spewing hatred and emboldening some of the vilest aspects of American society, the more difficult it will be for anybody with a conscience to stand by him.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.