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Matthew Countryman, an associate professor in the University of Michigan’s History and American Culture Departments, led a call from hundreds of members from Yale University’s class of 1985 for Steven Mnuchin to resign from his position as U.S. Secretary of Treasury in light of President Donald Trump’s comments on the events in Charlottesville.
“We call upon you, as our friend, our classmate, and as a fellow American, to resign in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy. We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing,” the letter read.
Countryman first proposed the idea to draft a letter on Yale’s Class of 1985 Facebook page, which included many of Mnuchin’s former Yale classmates.
“Mnuchin’s support for Trump’s comments on Charlottesville and now on the NFL players disqualify him, in my view, from serving in the Cabinet,” he said.
“There can be no room for neo-Nazis and KKK supporters within mainstream American politics. It is not acceptable for political figures to urge retribution against people, including athletes, for exercising their free speech rights and right to protest.”
Once Countryman posted his idea, others joined in to support, including James Donelan, an English professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“Our esteemed classmate was standing next to (Trump),” Donelan said in a CNN article. “That, in itself, is a statement. You can’t stand silent when something like this happens. It has to be something you confront.”
Since the original letter was published, many people have joined the movement.
“Nearly 400 members of the Yale College Class of 1985 signed the initial letter for his resignation, and 245 alums of Riverdale Country School have signed a subsequent call for his resignation,” Countryman said.
While the signatories represent various political backgrounds, the letter sought to make clear they were condemning hate from a nonpartisan perspective.
“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,” the letter read.
Despite their movement, Countryman said Mnuchin has repeatedly doubled down on his support for Trump’s statements on Charlottesville and on the NFL players’ national anthem protest.