Munchin’ on Mnuchin

If Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin declines to resign from his position with the Trump administration, he may have to forego attendance at future reunions of the Yale class of 1985. More than 300 of his former classmates have called on him to resign “in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy.” In an open letter that they have posted online, Mnuchin’s classmates instruct him: “We can be Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, and a number of other things and still be friends, classmates, and patriots, but we cannot be Nazis and white supremacists.”

Gee, thanks for the explanation. We didn’t know that.

Mnuchin responded with a statement that he released through Treasury public affairs and posted on Twitter. Among other things, Mnuchin noted: “[A]s someone who is Jewish, I believe I understand the long history of violence and hatred against the Jews (and other minorities) and circumstances that give rise to these sentiments and actions. While I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or the president, I feel compelled to let you know that the president in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways.”

it seems to me that something more spirited and definitive is called for. Mnuchin’s response errs on the side of understatement and diplomacy for my taste, but I appreciate the concluding point he makes without any trigger warning: “[A]s a Yale graduate and a member of what used to be known as Calhoun College (prior to its name change), I am familiar with the culture wars being fought in our country and the impact it is having on many people, with different views of how history should be remembered. Some of these issues are far more complicated than we are led to believe by the mass media, and if it were so simple, such actions would have been taken by other presidents, governors, and mayors, long before President Trump was elected by the American people.”

Mnuchin omits to note that his Yale classmates fail to cite any statement by President Trump that can fairly be construed to support the allegations they make against him. Given the seriousness of the charge and of the demand on Mnuchin, more than their mere assertion ought to be required. But they are Yale alumni, they have been taught to think highly of themselves and the world has not disabused them of their self-estimate.

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