No matter what issues or controversies surround a new president, one thing that is typically not controversial at all is the inaugural celebration. Of course, each incoming POTUS has favorite performers just like the rest of us. The names and faces of the acts who are invited change, but, normally, artists and groups who are asked to take part in the festivities respond with an enthusiastic "yes!"
This year, though, Donald Trump has received a number of "thanks, but no thanks" replies. Not only have a number of acts indicated they have no interest in the celebration, there is also dissension among the members of some groups that are planning to perform.
One of these groups is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. A week ago, Randall Thacker, a Utah native and a Mormon, started a petition on Change.org calling for the choir to withdraw from their planned performance. At least one member of the choir is in agreement, and has quit the group rather than sing for the coronation of King Donald.
Jan Chamberlin, a choir member for five years, says she cannot in good conscience sing at Trump's inauguration. She wrote a resignation letter to the head of the choir as well as to her fellow choir members explaining her reasons. She also posted the letter to her Facebook page (which has since been deleted due to the hateful responses she received).
In the letter Chamberlin described how she had been torn about the decision. She also said she had thought she could simply not attend the inauguration and still continue as a member of the choir. But, in a rebuke to choir and church officials, she indicated that she believes the inauguration performance taints the reputation of the group, and she wants no part of that. "I could never look myself in the mirror again with self-respect," she said.
Chamberlin made it abundantly clear how strongly she feels about the issue, saying in her letter, "I only know I could never 'throw roses to Hitler.' And I certainly could never sing for him."
In her since-deleted Facebook post Chamberlin continued to compare Trump to Hitler.
History is repeating itself; the same tactics are being used by Hitler (identify a problem, finding a scapegoat target to blame, and stirring up people with a combination of fanaticism, false promises, and fear, and gathering the funding).
I plead with everyone to go back and read the books we all know on these topics and review the films produced to help us learn from these gargantuan crimes so that we will not allow them to be repeated.
Evil people prosper when good people stand by and do nothing. We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.
On Thursday, church spokesman Eric Hawkins repeated that no choir member is being required to take part in the inauguration. He added that only a portion of the group will be performing anyway, due to limits set by the inaugural committee. There are 360 members of the choir, and church officials say they are expecting about 215 volunteers to participate. They didn't specify whether those 215 were more or fewer than the inaugural committee is allowing.
Church leadership has had no comment on Chamberlin's resignation, nor will they say how many, if any, other choir members have elected not to participate in the January 20 performance.
Mormons are one of the most conservative religious denominations in the country. Many were uneasy with supporting Trump, given any number of things he has said or done that run counter to Mormon beliefs. This unease led to alternative Republican (and Mormon) candidate Evan McMullen winning over 20 percent of the vote in the choir's home state of Utah. That gave Trump a smaller victory margin than any other GOP candidate in the state in years. Given those numbers, it is likely there at least a few other choir members who agree with Chamberlin. But will any others be brave enough to come forward and say so?