Following the mass resignation of the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities last week, actor Kal Penn (who originally tweeted the resignation letter) went on CNN to defend the committee’s choice. Anchor Chris Cuomo asked Penn why he and the other committee members didn’t just stay in the administration and try to improve things from within. Penn responded by saying President Donald Trump’s government is so “dysfunctional” that there was not much to be done.
“You have a White House that has gone into federal agencies and essentially put in a freeze. So they’re wasting taxpayer dollars, the agencies are often not allowed to do anything at all,” Penn said. “We felt like this was a point where an opportunity to resign en masse would send a stronger message about who I think the majority of Americans really are, the love that we have for each other, the opportunity to move the country forward in ways that lots of folks are doing outside of government.”
The mass resignation was a response to President Trump’s controversial comments about the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. earlier this month that left one woman dead and several more injured at the hands of self-professed white supremacists. The letter Penn tweeted begins, “Dear Mr. President, 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.” When taken together, the first letter of the first word in each paragraph of the letter (“reproach,” “elevating,” “speaking,” “ignoring,” “supremacy,” “thank”) spells out a not-so-coded message: RESIST.
“If government is so dysfunctional that you can’t get anything done, why don’t we focus on things outside of government and do those things together? Especially, look, you’re dealing with a tiny-fingered vulgarian who loves to tweet crazy things as his way of getting policy done? Come on, we’re better than that,” he told the CNN anchors, in reference to the famous Spy magazine quip that Trump was a “short-fingered vulgarian.”
Check out the letter below, and a clip from Penn’s CNN interview above.