One of America’s most hateful human beings sits at the new Trump White House’s helm, writing the president’s racist and isolationist executive orders and expelling anyone who may threaten his ambitious agenda. Bannon is officially Trump’s chief adviser, but he is the one calling the shots in the White House.
“Every major decision at the new White House has involved Bannon,” according to the Associated Press. America knows this. That’s why #PresidentBannon and #StopPresidentBannon became popular Twitter hashtags in the last few days.
The danger Bannon poses to the United States and to the whole world cannot be understated.
In August of last year, Trump selected Bannon as his new campaign CEO. Earlier, Bannon called Trump “a blunt instrument” for Breitbart News, the conspiracy-peddling online hub of the white nationalist “alt-right” Bannon led from 2012 until he signed on to the Trump campaign. Through Breitbart, Bannon has been turning people against the government, beltway politicians and “multiculturalism,” hoping to create chaos and amass a far-right, nationalist movement large enough to elect an allegedly “populist” candidate such as Trump. Many consider Breitbart as the “Trump Pravda” because of its consistent promotion of the new president, who has become an increasingly effective tool for Bannon to advance his white nationalist agenda.
In under 10 days, Bannon, along with another of Trump’s top advisers, Stephen Miller, engineered executive orders halting the United States’ refugee program and barring entry to anyone from seven Middle Eastern and African countries for even permanent legal US residents, declaring intent to build a wall at the border with Mexico, weakening Obamacare, and withdrawing from an international trade agreement.
According to Kate Brennan of Just Security, Bannon is “calling the shots and doing so with little to no input from the National Security Council staff.”
Now Trump’s appointed Bannon to the National Security Council Principles Committee, a spot usually reserved for generals, shocking former government officials.
After serving the Navy for seven years, Bannon went to business school, worked as an investment banker at Goldman-Sachs, and tried his hand as a Hollywood producer. But starting in the early 2000s, Bannon devoted his life to creating right-wing propaganda. He teamed up with Citizens United, the group that successfully opened up American politics to unlimited corporate money in 2010, to create several right-wing propaganda films attacking undocumented immigrants and Occupy Wall Street while also lionizing the Tea Party.
Andrew Breitbart, featured in the documentary Occupy Unmasked, called Bannon “the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement”. Right-wing media personality Glenn Beck compared him to Joseph Goebbels, Hilter’s chief propagandist, and said the Trump campaign was “grooming Brownshirts.”
In numerous films, Bannon worked with David Bossie, the president of Citizens United who became Trump’s deputy campaign manager. If it hadn’t been clear before, the Bannon and Bossie hires signaled that Trump’s campaign, and his presidency, would center around lies, falsehoods and manipulation of the public, right in line with Trump’s entrée into presidential politics years earlier, when he commenced his never-ending “birther” obsession over President Obama’s US citizenship.
As Bannon runs the White House and Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly lies to the media, Bossie is helping lead a nonprofit called “America First Policies” that is not required to disclose its donors and will back Trump’s agenda by, presumably, spreading more of the rightwing propaganda for which Bossie is famous. “America First,” which Trump emphasized in his inauguration speech, harkens back to the early 1940s, when American anti-Semites used the phrase to oppose accepting Jewish refugees fleeing genocide in Nazi Germany.
In 2007, Bannon helped Andrew Breitbart found Breitbart News and became a board member. In 2012, as Bannon took over the media company in the wake of Breitbart’s death, he began turning what was already a far-right propaganda machine into the platform of the emerging “alt-right,” a fringe, mainly online movement of spiteful, racist white nationalists including neo-Nazis and supporters of ethnic cleansing. Bannon steered the site into even more racist and alarmist territory, filling the minds of its readers with constant accounts of alleged “illegal immigrant crime” and “black-on-black crime” as well as misogynistic and anti-Semitic articles.
Media Matters put together astonishing collages of Breitbart News headlines. Stories entitled, ”‘We’re Somalis, We Don’t Pay’: Migrants Smash Bistro with Iron Bars” or “Migrant Stabs Bouncer at Gay Nightclub After Being Refused Entry” imply all black and brown migrants are criminals destroying Western society. Another, “Syrian Refugees Spreading Flesh-Eating Disease, Polio, Measles, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis,” portrays refugees as a sick, contagious herd rather than desperate people who have fled massacres in their countries only to be met with squalid conditions at refugee camps in the Middle East and North Africa.
While Bannon claims he isn’t a racist white nationalist, many disagree. Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called him a “white supremacist”. And with his films and Breitbart News, Bannon has stoked the flames of American racism.
Breitbart News is opening operations in Paris and Berlin, countries where white nationalist fervor is growing. Accordingly, Bannon wants to create an intercontinental white nationalist movement and is already pursuing allegiances with far-right white nationalist parties in Austria, France and the United Kingdom. Breitbart has an operation in London and another in Jerusalem, where a far-right, pro-Netanyahu faction supports illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine and the country’s oppression of Palestinians.
If you look at Bannon’s beliefs and past statements, you’ll have no choice but to find the man insane and profoundly dangerous. “Darkness is good,” Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”
Part of his agenda on immigration is abundantly clear: refusing Muslims entry into the United States. Bannon, along with Miller and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, believe that if a lot of Muslims are allowed to enter the country, the US will see a “large and permanent domestic terror threat that becomes multidimensional and multigenerational and becomes sort of a permanent feature,” according to a Trump administration official.
But it’s not just Muslims Bannon is after. He and Miller are, according to the Los Angeles Times, conducting “a radical experiment to fundamentally transform how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the country…[blocking] a generation of people who, in their view, won’t assimilate into American society.” Bannon has stated he wants to reduce legal immigration in order to restore American sovereignty. He’s complained about Asian immigrants taking away engineering jobs from native-born Americans and reaching executive positions in Silicon Valley.
“Don’t we have a problem with legal immigration?” Bannon asked on his Breitbart radio show. “Twenty percent of this country is immigrants. Is that not the beating heart of this problem?”
According to someone who worked with Bannon in Hollywood, the man is obsessed with war and voraciously reads books on military conflicts throughout history. “Steve is a strong militarist, he’s in love with war—it’s almost poetry to him,” she said. A former Breitbart staffer told The Daily Beast how Bannon was an aggressive boss and constantly used military terminology while on the job.
Bannon is obsessed with protecting “the Judeo-Christian West” from Islamic ideology, saying we’re already immersed in a global war. He’s also said, “We’re going to war in the South China Sea…No doubt.”
With his White House power and his seat on the National Security Council, Bannon could throw the United States into catastrophic military conflicts. Flynn recently put Iran “on notice,” and the president wants to escalate America’s attacks on ISIS, possibly collaborating with Russia. On Feb. 1, Trump went out of his way to threaten both Mexico and Australia.
Bannon’s power is immense, to be sure, but the influence of another top White House advisor, Stephen Miller, a former aide to attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions—who has his own disturbing racist record—should not be underestimated.
Miller works with Bannon to craft many of Trump’s policies and executive orders. Now in his early thirties, Miller made a name for himself while an undergraduate at Duke University, writing a far-right newspaper column and, on national TV, defending white lacrosse players accused of raping a black woman. In the Duke Conservative Union, Miller met the white nationalist, alt-right leader, Richard Spencer, who was then a graduate student and mentored the younger Miller. The two worked together to host a panel featuring anti-immigration crusader Peter Brimelow, founder of VDARE, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a white nationalist hate group.
The US is in a position many haven’t seen in their lifetimes, or, at least, in quite a while. A far-right extremist, white nationalist militant is the most powerful man in Washington, and white supremacist groups are recruiting new members and being given a voice in the national press. A flaccid Congress, bent on passing huge tax cuts for the wealthy and hobbling public programs, isn’t doing anything to oppose Trump’s dangerous lunacy. The Senate, including some Democrats, are voting for nominees for the cabinet and other top posts who seek to decimate the very agencies they’ll lead. Our foreign policy is in jeopardy, as is our standing in the world. In the 1930s, many Germans didn’t see what was coming until it was too late. We can’t afford to do the same.