Stephen Bannon, the white nationalist hero of the alt-right will be Trump’s Chief Strategist.
For those of you hoping Donald Trump would split from his incendiary persona upon assuming office, disavow his white nationalist ties and govern as an inclusive centrist, this should serve as a reality check. While the appointment of RNC Chair Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff is about as uninspired a choice as one could find, and is in complete opposition to Trump’s “drain the swamp” rhetoric, it’s far less concerning than Bannon’s hiring.
Reince Priebus is generally milquetoast and Stephen Bannon is as brash as they come. The simultaneous appointments show Trump’s motivation to pull from two entirely different realms; he’s placating the establishment and the anti-establishment. Apparently, neither is the boss of the other, which leads one to believe this move is designed to spur conflict and competition. Priebus will likely err on the side of centrism and be willing to make at least minor concessions, while Bannon is unlikely to mitigate his burn-it-to-the-ground approach.
The ascension of Stephen Bannon from banker, radio host, film producer and executive chairman of white nationalist news outlet Breitbart.com, to the Chief Strategist in the Trump White House is remarkable and troubling.
Here are a few headlines from Breitbart articles:
These are just a few of the low lights. They also compared Planned Parenthood to the holocaust and said Donald Trump made being gay cool again. And they likened Pamela Gellar’s Muhammad Cartoon contest to MLK’s historic march on Selma. As Mediaite reported, former Breitbart Spokesman Kurt Bardella said that editorial meetings were like “attending a white supremacist rally.”
Bannon’s directed eight films with topics ranging from the uncompromising greatness of Sarah Palin to the abject and intentionally un-American failures of Barack Obama (featuring “unintentional” Nazi imagery.) Bannon was charged with domestic violence in 1996, after allegedly grabbing his then wife, Mary Louise Piccard by the neck. The charges were dismissed when Piccard failed to show up in court, but documents from the case show that Piccard claimed Bannon, when speaking about school choices for their twin daughters, said that he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”
Unsurprisingly, white supremacists are praising the hire. As the Daily Beast reported, Peter Brimelow, editor of VDARE.com said the hiring is “great news.” VDARE.com is a white power website that describes itself thusly:
“America was defined — almost explicitly, sometimes very explicitly — as a white nation, for white people, and what that means is that there is virtually no figure, no law, no policy, no event in the history of the old, white America that can survive the transition to the new and non-white version. Whether we will want to call the new updated version ‘America’ at all is another question entirely.”
— Sam Francis, VDARE, 2003
The Daily Beast has also reported that Richard Spencer, the head of the National Policy Institute, an Arlington-based, white-supremacist think tank is happy to hear the news.
The alt-right has been validated. The white nationalist movement now has a man with the ear of the president of the United States. This hiring does nothing to assuage concerns of Trump’s presidency being a vehicle of white supremacy, it’s essentially just another double-down in a long string of a double-downs.
There was a prevailing hope among those disturbed by the election results that perhaps Trump’s whole caucasian-centric campaign would widen its scope when he took office. That maybe he was just exploiting the alt-right demo to lock in their votes.
That was a hopeful pipedream—a quixotic and unrealistically rosy vision of the impending administration. It’s now safe to bring those expectations back to below the ground floor.
by Jesse Mechanic
Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.