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It Takes Enormous Privilege to Think Performing at Trump’s Inauguration Isn’t Political

As you’ve no doubt heard, Trump’s team is having a hard time finding performers for his inauguration. Elton John was announced without having accepted the gig and had to come out with a very public “uh, think again.” Every A-lister asked has turned down the offer; Rockettes are rebelling; Mormon choir members are defecting; agents and talent bookers have reported being offered “access to the administration” and “serious” ambassadorships in exchange for getting stars to perform. Trump can’t even book a high school marching band.

Currently (according to THR) the only solo act scheduled to perform at the inauguration is 16-year-old Jackie Evancho, of America’s Got Talent fame, who is slated to sing the National Anthem. Naturally, this has drawn a lot of criticism. Her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts are full of of people insisting she back out, with, let’s just say, varying levels of politeness.

Still, Evancho insists that her performance isn’t political. She told the New York Times, “I just kind of thought that this is for my country. So if people are going to hate on me it’s for the wrong reason.”

In no way is it acceptable to harass a teenaged girl online. I would hope that goes without saying, but obviously it doesn’t. But it’s also ridiculous to think that performing at a celebration of any politician, let alone the most dangerous, scandal-ridden, anti-woman, anti-immigrant president we’ve seen, possibly ever, has nothing to do with politics.

Evancho’s decision to perform for Trump is compounded by the fact that her 18-year-old sister, Juliet, is transgender. A lot of people are having a hard time reconciling her support of her sister, who is suing her school district over access to the women’s restrooms, and her support of Trump. She describes the bathroom lawsuit in the same way she talks about the inauguration, saying, “For me it’s not political. It’s just accepting people for who they are.”

This isn’t an uncommon way of thinking for a teenager. That level of naiveté is maybe even enviable, to think that your personal experiences are in no way political. That loving your transgender sister is just about family and acceptance and nothing else; that singing at Trump’s inauguration is just about music, or at most, patriotism.

But these things are political, in that they are literally about politics. And Evancho is a teenager, but she’s also a public figure with a large platform that she should understand how she wields. For Juliet, filing a lawsuit must feel pretty political. For those of us terrified of normalizing Trump’s outrageous behavior and dangerous potential, the inauguration is not a normal concert. It’s not even a normal political event. Evancho also performed for President Obama twice, at the National Christmas Tree lighting in 2010 and at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, which, sure, can be viewed as political, but they weren’t events honoring Obama.

The inauguration marks the commencement of Trump’s presidency, and choosing to perform at it is a choice to honor Trump. It is an acceptance, even a celebration, of him as the country’s leader. For those of us who refuse to accept Trump (and the incredibly homophobic Pence) as anything but a destructive leader, there’s probably nothing we can do to stop the inauguration. But we also don’t have the luxury of viewing any of this as anything but highly political.

(via NYT, image via screengrab)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.