We, the undersigned students and community organizations, declare Steve Mnuchin to be an enemy of the people and are deeply outraged and disappointed in UCLA’s decision to give such a malicious plutocrat a platform to push the destructive white nationalist and fascist agenda of the Trump regime.
As part of its Arnold C. Harberger Lecture series, UCLA’s Burkle Center will host Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on February 26th, 2018. The man who enriched himself by foreclosing tens of thousands of homes, just shepherded through the most significant tax handout to corporations and billionaires in history, and stands idly by as the Trump administration attacks Black and Brown communities on a daily basis does not deserve our respect.
After a substantial career at Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin boosted his personal fortune running a “foreclosure machine” in California, taking immediate advantage of the financial crisis his former employer helped cause. OneWest Bank, which Mnuchin ran from 2009 to 2015, was accused in a memo from the California Attorney General’s office of “widespread misconduct,” as Mnuchin raked in millions of dollars from the widespread dispossession of 36,000 individuals and families who had been swindled by predatory mortgages.
His reign as Treasury Secretary for the Trump administration features more of the same malicious exploitation. He recently pushed blatant lies to ram through the most aggressive looting of the American public in U.S. history, the tax bill passed last December. The bill provides for enormous corporate tax cuts and also repeals the individual healthcare mandate from the Affordable Care Act, which will result in an estimated 13 million Americans losing coverage. Now Mnuchin and the Republicans are aiming to drastically cut some of the most crucial government programs for vulnerable people, including Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security, and food stamps, which will of course disproportionately impact people of color. The poverty and misery resulting from these policies must be made clear, and we will not hesitate to call it exactly what it is: a racialized war on the poor.
We see this event as a continuation of a commitment by the university’s administration to provide legitimacy both to racist provocateurs, such as Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos, and to the powerful politicians collaborating with the fascist Trump regime in destroying lives across the world, like Rahm Emanuel and Steve Mnuchin. This makes UCLA complicit in Trump’s and the Republican’s program to “Make America White Again.” We also recognize the parallels between the actions of Mnuchin and the increasing neoliberalization of higher education in general and of UCLA in particular. Both Mnuchin and the administration of the University of California are landlords, profiting off the high rents charged to students and workers. UCLA’s treatment of the Reagan Hospital’s valet workers, fired for demanding better pay while the hospital’s CEO pockets upwards of $1 million per year, is perfectly reflective of the hegemonic ideology that Mnuchin and his ilk have helped bring about.
There are plenty of courageous, passionate, intelligent people fighting from the bottom-up for a better world whose speeches would actually contribute to our ability to understand and change the world; who deserve to be elevated by a prestigious institution like UCLA. It is out of solidarity with people across the globe who are being squeezed, starved, and targeted by these oligarchic elites that we, the undersigned organizations and individuals, speak out in opposition to Mnuchin’s presence. His “ideas” can only serve to further entrench an inherently exploitative system, one that is literally destroying the earth and responsible for the loss of many’s human dignity.
Shame on UCLA, the Anderson School, and the Burkle Center for its complicity in furthering and legitimizing all that Mnuchin and the Trump regime stand for. We call on everyone with a heart and a conscience to join us in standing against this and in building a mass student movement to challenge the reactionary forces that continue to dominate our politics and our university.
Students for Justice in Palestine
Planners of Color for Social Equity
Anakbayan Los Angeles
Young Democratic Socialists of America
Socialist Students UCLA
Student Labor Advocacy Project
Professor Ananya Roy