Updated 10 pm March 5, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
It was meant to be another day in the normalization of the Trump/Pence Regime. Steve “The Mouse” Mnuchin came to the UCLA campus to speak and “politely” converse about the regime’s cruel and brutal Tax Plan.
But students and professors had been organizing to greet him. And in the midst of protest, boos and hisses from the audience, women from the Revolution Club (LA) and Refuse Fascism stepped out, defiantly calling out the fascists for what they are—fascists—and breaking through the increasing normalization. For this, they were brutally dragged out of the auditorium and banned from the campus.
But it didn’t end there. “The Mouse” demanded that the video of the event be suppressed. The center at UCLA which hosted him said this was unprecedented but they bowed to the request. But that didn’t stop videos of this event from going viral. This has now been seen by over a million people the world over, setting an example for all those who hate everything this regime is doing and putting into place.
The Night of February 26
As “The Mouse” Mnuchin was trying to justify the Trump/Pence Regime’s fascist program, one after another, the women from Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club raised their voices in protest. They called out the brutal impact of Mnuchin’s cruel budget and tax cuts, they spoke about the impact of the sanctions on countries around the world that Mnuchin bragged about enforcing—sanctions which are intended to starve whole countries into submission to U.S. domination. They spoke about the “politics of cruelty and fascism” and spoke to the need for millions to get into the streets in mass, defiant protest.
And, one by one, these young women were pulled (and in one case lifted) out of their seats, dragged off and arrested.
The event continued with hissing and booing throughout, and a combative question from an 11-year-old which Mnuchin stammered to answer. At one point Mnuchin asked the hissers what their disagreement was and an audience member responded “I just think you’re full of shit.”
Before the event, protesters dressed as Marie Antoinette and Louis XIV distributed cake to the crowd, referencing the charge that—told that people in France had no bread to eat—she responded ‘let them eat cake.’ These protests came together around an open letter opposing Mnuchin’s appearance on campus called by a coalition of organizations and individuals including Refuse Fascism, the Revolution Club, Students for Justice in Palestine, Young Democratic Socialists and more.
As the event was letting out, two other members of Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club were arrested for speaking out against this regime and these outrageous arrests.
What can we learn from this?
Political suppression is part of this whole outrageous fascist precedent. Those arrested were charged with trespassing and disturbing the peace (the peace of fascism!!). They were given a verbal notice of a 7-day ban from the campus. This included a UCLA student and alum! UCLA had rolled out the red carpet for a representative of this fascist regime, while silencing, arresting and banning protesters!
Those arrested have since defied the ban—going onto campus to participate in a protest on March 1. This was for the 11 Minutes of Silence for 11 Million Immigrants called for by Refuse Fascism where over 50 students gathered to block a prominent walkway on campus. At this protest, the UC Police Department threatened those arrested on Monday night with another arrest for violating this ban. They backed off, but this is unacceptable.
Mnuchin’s Cowardice Backfires
But Mnuchin’s cowardice and the brutality and suppression of the Revolution Club and Refuse Fascism backfired.
People all over social media started posting the cell phone videos of the disruption with comments like “Here’s video of Steven Mnuchin getting heckled. He begged UCLA to not release any video. I guess he didn’t see the other cameras in the room.” (https://twitter.com/funder/status/969027289202679809?lang=en) and “Please don’t spread this video of a student being dragged away by cops as she accuses Steven Mnuchin of engaging in ‘the politics of fascism.’ Mnuchin asked UCLA not to post it. Thank you.” (link: https://twitter.com/stevesilberman/status/969297182049361920?lang=en)
These two tweets alone were retweeted over 60,000 times and the accompanying video has been seen almost 1.5 million times. The fact that Mnuchin couldn’t handle this amount of protest and truth telling led to coverage in nearly every major national media outlet and remained a big story through the week. On page one of its business section, the New York Times reported, “Mnuchin Blocks U.C.L.A. From Releasing Video of Students Heckling Him” and the LA Times covered it under a similar headline, including one of the tweets in their online versions. This was also covered in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and by CNN, CNBC, Spin, and Yahoo News! and Britain’s Daily Mail, and on many websites including the Huffington Post, Alternet, and Common Dreams.
The comments in these articles and social media have, in their vast majority, been thrilled at the defiance of the young women, proud of their fearlessness, outraged at their brutal treatment by the police and angry that the audience didn’t stand up in support of these protesters.
Just a few of the thousands of comments include:
“All these young women are incredibly brave to face the power of The Man in their own school, a school that had no consideration for dissent. Shame on UCLA.” “These brave young women have serious intestinal fortitude!! Mnuchin is corrupt swine happy to be in Trumps court. Shame on UCLA if they ban these women for speaking up and out against this horrendous regime.” “I’m sad nobody tried to stop arrests. A simple wall of peaceful folks blocking the police from getting to the girls, or at least people quietly and peacefully standing to block the door so they can’t be dragged out… hope ACLU got your back.” “I applaud these brave young women speaking truth to power. If only more citizens were expressing outrage to this bullshit fascist regime.”
This is an example of how the courageous actions of a few—commensurate with what we’re facing—can break through the silence of normalization, present a challenge to those who feel the danger but are afraid to face the reality of the situation, and be a model for millions for how they should be acting.
This reveals a strategic weakness—and vulnerability—of these fascists and how they respond in the face of determined opposition. And it shows what that determined opposition can draw forward from the depth of the disgust felt by the reservoir of people that detest this regime. This can and must be mobilized in the millions towards driving out this regime.
What we’re facing, what’s needed
This regime is a threat to the very existence of humanity, and is rapidly moving to consolidate a fascist regime. There really can be no business as usual. And the impact of actions like this cannot be underestimated. They not only challenge and give great heart to those who hate this regime, but can serve to draw forward and cohere many people to step into the struggle to demand Trump/Pence Must Go.
The threat of nuclear war, mass deportations, moving to end the right to abortion and even birth control, the hatred of LGBTQ people, attacks on science and gutting of the separation of powers… this has direction and momentum and there is only one force in society that will stop this: the people in their millions acting defiantly and with courage, in the streets! We can learn from Act Up [activists who demanded government action to stop the AIDS epidemic that was killing millions in the 1980s—their motto was ‘Silence=Death’] which never relented, but went into the thick of it at every turn, knowing that human lives were at stake.
Everywhere they go, these fascist representatives need to meet this kind of response. This has to spread throughout society—every day and all the time—building to the time when millions fill the streets, day after day and night after night until our single, unifying demand is met: This Nightmare Must End! The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!