Mike Huckabee resigned after a day as a member of the Country Music Association Foundation Board because of a heated protest on account of his anti-LGBT pronouncements.
Pushback was immediate after Huckabee, who now films a Christian cable network show in Nashville, was added to the board with praise for his past encouragement of teaching music in schools.
Huckabee’s critics included Jason Owen, who manages Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves
Huckabee has compared homosexuality with bestiality and regularly denounced same-sex marriage.
Huckabee didn’t take his
On Twitter, he described the protesters as “bullies”, while in a longer written statement he complained of “irrational vitriol” and “intolerant and vicious statements”, adding: “I hope that the music and entertainment industry will become more tolerant and inclusive and recognise that a true love for kids having access to the arts is more important than a dislike for someone or a group of people because of who they are or what they believe.”
His letter even seemed to indicate his rejection could be the beginning of the end times.
“Until recently, the arts was the one place America could set aside political, geographical, racial, religious, and economic barriers and come together,” he wrote. “If the arts community becomes part of the polarization instead of bridging communities and people over the power of civil norms as reflected in the arts, then we as a civilization may not be long for this earth.”
Janet Huckabee chimed in with a head-scratching Tweet. Some think it is throwing children under a bus to endorse legal discrimination against them on account of their sexual orientation.
Sad day but the intolerant left who again think so much of themselves that they are willing to throw the children under the bus. They are so full of hate and bitterness that no one can help them unless they are exactly like them. Misery does Love company. https://t.co/iJg32aH9Qk
— Janet Huckabee (@janethuckabee) March 2, 2018
Huckabee was widely panned
Sugarland’s Kristian Bush visited Dodson Elementary School in Hermitage last week with the CMA Foundation. His manager, Whitney Pastorek, who is a CMA member, penned an email to CMA executives questioning how many children in the school’s diverse population Huckabee would choose to welcome.
“What a terrible disappointment to see (the CMA Foundation’s) mission clouded by the decision to align with someone who so frequently engages in the language of racism, sexism, and bigotry,” Pastorek wrote. “While Gov. Huckabee’s tenure in Arkansas may have resulted in valuable education reform over a decade ago, I find his choice to spend the past ten years profiting off messages of exclusion and hatred (not to mention the gun lobby) to be disqualifying.”
Steve Schnur, a former CMA board member, said the town’s phones were lit up all night and into this morning after Wednesday’s announcement. “I got calls in shock from multiple CMA members, asking if I knew about it, some threatening to leave,” says Schnur, who is the worldwide executive of music for EA, the blockbuster video game producer that has moved most of its efforts to Nashville, and who sits on the Recording Academy’s Nashville board. “I’ve had numerous conversations since the second I woke up with chairmen of labels and major managers, all collectively agreeing that this move, which fortunately now has been resolved, really would have put Nashville back 20 years. I hear it wasn’t properly vetted. Would the next move to have been to put somebody from the NRA on? We don’t need to live under those clichés anymore, and I’m very happy that there are people like Jason, (manager) Clarence Spalding, (UMG Nashville chief) Mike Dungan, and others that won’t stand for this stuff. This isn’t about Republican/Democrat. We have to set an example to the people around the world who put Nashville on a pedestal, and the example can’t be a lack of tolerance.”
Another music industry VIP with close ties to the CMA, who did not want to be identified, explained that in many ways, Huckabee’s appointment made sense, since he has a history of reaching across the aisle to further arts education in schools. “We are trying to support these programs in Tennessee, and he is a man who has been in the trenches and understands what it takes to get people of different backgrounds to get together and achieve a cause. My hope was that his experience would prove fruitful as we try to improve music in the schools.”
But, added this same source, “I couldn’t help but see him standing with his arms locked in the air with that Kim Davis woman in Kentucky [the clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses in 2015]. That is not a favorable memory in my mind.”
Among those pleased by Huckabee’s swift exit is Shane McAnally, the producer of Midland’s and Old Dominion’s recent breakthroughs and co-writer of hits like Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road.” In a statement to Variety, McAnally said, “I am glad to hear that Mike Huckabee resigned from the CMA Foundation Board and I hope that this will prevent any further distractions from the work that the CMA Foundation does in our community. As a member of the CMA Board, I was disheartened to learn that Huckabee was appointed to the position because his beliefs have not been representative of our country music community as a whole, which is made up of dynamic and forward-thinking creatives. The CMA is an organization that acts as an ambassador for our industry, so it is incredibly important that we are diligent in spreading a message that embraces diversity and love. I hope that the CMA will continue to be governed by progressive and empathetic individuals in the future.”
Kim Davis sees it differently, no doubt. She probably agrees with Huckabee that “hate wins.” If I know the Huckster, he’ll chum up some speaking fees from the controversy.