Is an inauguration performance a political statement?

Members of a Bruce Springsteen cover band became the latest performers to back out of the upcoming presidential inauguration concert on Jan. 19, going the way of Broadway actress Jennifer Holliday and opera singer Andrea Bocelli.

The musical lineup for “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” on Thursday, which still includes rock band 3 Doors Down, country star Toby Keith, and Lee Greenwood, the man behind the patriotic hit “God Bless the USA,” has grown progressively thinner as Inauguration Day draws closer and artists come under fire for agreeing to participate in the event celebrating President-elect Donald Trump’s move into the White House. To perform, Mr. Trump’s opponents argue, is to implicitly support and normalize the controversial ideologies touted by the president-elect throughout his campaign and transition period.

But a number of participating musicians disagree – some on the grounds that their involvement is “not political,” and others because they see the event as an opportunity to bring together fans from both sides of a deepening political divide.

Musicians, particularly liberal musicians, have long been territorial over their music being used in political campaigns by politicians with whom they disagree. But in the past, the presidential inauguration has served an opportunity for Americans of all political leanings to come together to honor the president-elect and the peaceful transfer of political power. This year, however, a climate of continuing political strife is bringing legions of protestors to the nation’s capital for the weekend and has unraveled the fabric of what is ordinarily a moment to celebrate some of the nation’s most recognized and beloved musicians.

Traditionally, an invitation to perform for a presidential inauguration has been seen as an “honor,”…