In the days since Donald Trump brought shame upon the nation with his equivocal response to violence perpetrated by the alt-right Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, he’s been facing a mounting exodus of business leaders and cultural figures who had volunteered to serve their country by participating in various presidential advisory councils.
Now Trump has been forced to withdraw from participating in the prestigious annual Kennedy Center Honors after several of the honorees announced that they would boycott the White House reception traditionally held before the event. Both TV producer, Norman Lear, the noted progressive behind shows like “All In The Family” and “Sanford and Son”, and dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade had already announced that they would not attend a reception hosted by Trump.
“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,” said the 86-year-old Ms. de Lavallade, according to The NY Times.
As he has done in response to the defections from his advisory councils, where he announced the disbanding of the groups after multiple members resigned in protest over his comments on Charlottesville, Trump swiftly decided that it was easier to opt out of attending the Honors and to cancel the White House reception than face the public humiliation of even more honorees dropping out because of his heinous refusal to properly attribute blame in the violence.
With honorees also including LL Cool J, Gloria Estefan, and Lionel Ritchie, further defections were almost certainly on the horizon were Trump not to withdraw from the event.
The chairman of the Kennedy Center, David M. Rubenstein, and the president of the organization, Deborah F. Rutter issued a statement after the White House announced that President Trump and his wife Melania would not participate in the event “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
“The Kennedy Center respects the decision made today by the office of the president of the United States. 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. We are grateful for this gesture.”
Given the Trump administration’s continuing efforts to cut off funding for the arts in America, his presence at the event would have been a hypocritical distraction from the intended purpose of the Kennedy Center Honors which is to shine a light on the lifelong accomplishments of prominent figures in the arts. Now the participants can accept their accolades without the distractions of an anti-arts president in their midst.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.