Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Singer & Rockettes Refuse to Perform at Trump's Inauguration

It's no secret that Donald Trump has struggled to secure celebrities to perform for his inauguration—Elton John, Celine Dion, John Legend and others have all said no. There have even been reports that Trump's team tried offering bribes of positions in his cabinet. Not surprisingly, he had no takers.

Finally, three days before Christmas, he managed to get the Rockettes. The day they learned the news, one of the dancers cried her way through a Christmas show, so distressed that she would have to dance for Trump. Another dancer posted her violent objection on Instagram: 
"I usually don't use social media to make a political stand but I feel overwhelmed with emotion. Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed. The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we're against is appalling. I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts #notmypresident" 
A senior-ranking official of the American Guild of Variety Artists stated that full-time dancers had to dance where they were told to. But there was such a public furor that the Guild backed off, stating that dancing at the inauguration would be voluntary. So the Rockettes can choose, but many are afraid that if they don't they'll lose their jobs or future opportunities, as only thirteen have permanent positions and the others dance ad hoc.

A dancer who spoke anonymously to Marie Claire, risking getting fired for it if she's exposed, said "This is making our show, our job, our name, branded as right-wing. An extreme right-wing. There's a reason why everyone else is turning this down. Why are we not?" She also noted that  no minority dancers had signed up.  

Then we learned that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would sing at the inauguration. Lifetime Mormon Randall Thacker started a petition against the Choir performing,
"and especially for an incoming president who has demonstrated sexist, racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic behavior that does not align with the principles and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church's participation will harm this spectacularly talented and beloved choir's image, misrepresent the diversity of Mormons worldwide, and sends the wrong message to LDS children as they will perceive the Church's participation as endorsement of a president whose words and actions do not align with our values."
And one singer in the Choir, Jan Chamberlin, chose to resign. She posted a letter of explanation on Facebook. That post has since been taken down but you can read it here. Below is an extract. 
"Since “the announcement”, I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul. I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in Choir for all the other good reasons… 
But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect. I love you all, and I know the goodness of your hearts, and your desire to go out there and show that we are politically neutral and share good will… 
I also know, looking from the outside in, it will appear that Choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man. And Choir’s wonderful image and networking will be severely damaged and that many good people throughout this land and throughout the world already do and will continue to feel betrayed.   
I know that I too feel betrayed. Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth. Now it will burst into our homes through storm…
 In the show Wicked, the Wizard says “ I create conflict to stay in power.” This allows those in office to do whatever they want to unchecked. I believe this has been done to us, both cunningly and intentionally…   
I could never “throw roses to Hitler.” And I certainly could never sing for him… My heart is shattered and broken............. but my conscience is clear. And THAT, really is all that matters."