President Trump was forced to disband two advisory business councils this week when CEOs left en masse. He has had to drop the idea of an infrastructure council, one suspects, because it would be hard to round up people willing to attend.
We certainly hope Durant’s teammates, fellow basketball players and indeed all professional and college sports players make the same choice. They are inarguably role models, and America could use some role models right about now. Durant and others can emphasize that their extraordinary action is required because of Trump’s deliberate effort to rewrite history and redefine the United States in ways that are antithetical to our founding creed.
We’ve urged public figures of all types — entertainers, civic leaders, public intellectuals, business leaders, scientists, etc. — to make the same decision. Those who publicly decline to attend events deserve praise; those who attend deserve our contempt. No one can honestly say that meeting with the president offers a chance to shape Trump’s views, influence his decisions or help our country. This week should have removed any doubt that Trump is immune to reason, indifferent to history and contemptuous of advice.
Charities are also making some public decisions. Both the American Cancer Society and the Cleveland Clinic have canceled events at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The Post also reports, “The American Friends of Magen David Adom, which raises money for Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross, also said it would not hold its 2018 gala at the club ‘after considerable deliberation,’ though it did not give a reason. The charity had one of Mar-a-Lago’s biggest events last season, with about 600 people in attendance.” I cannot imagine why any charitable organization that wants the support of a wide array of Americans would think it was in its interest to stage an event under the Trump logo.
We find it appalling, frankly, that the Fund for American Studies (TFAS) — a group that bills itself as dedicated to teaching “limited government, free-market economics and honorable leadership to students and young professionals in America and around the world” — would think to have its event at Trump’s International D.C. Hotel. The group’s actions in selecting its venue speak volumes. (A separate issue has arisen as to whether it is appropriate for Justice Neil Gorsuch to speak there, given the potential for litigation on the emoluments clause reaching the Supreme Court. Legal ethics experts are divided as to the propriety of, in essence, Gorsuch being the star attraction at an event that would enrich the president who appointed him; we find it unseemly.)
Private and public citizens, like politicians, will have to make their own decisions about how they want to conduct themselves with regard to this president. Whatever they decide, however, they will be setting an example for others, if only their children, and they have every reason to be judged harshly by those who find that Trump has not only defiled the presidency but waged an assault on our civic virtues and democratic norms.