White su­prem­a­cist doesn’t be­long in the White House

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Bill Press Bill Press is syn­di­cated by Tri­bune Me­dia Ser­vices.

Colum­nist Bill Press dis­cusses Don­ald Trump's se­lec­tion of Steve Ban­non as chief White House strate­gist.

If you even en­ter­tained the thought that Don­ald Trump in the White House would be dif­fer­ent from Don­ald Trump on the cam­paign trail. Or, if af­ter the cam­paign was over, you were hop­ing to dis­cover a kinder, gen­tler Don­ald Trump who’d work with both par­ties in Congress to get things done ...

Fugged­aboutit! He’s still the same shal­low, yet ob­nox­ious, in­sult­ing and ob­scene flamethrower we saw dur­ing the pri­maries, as proven by his very first act as pres­i­dent-elect: nam­ing Steve Ban­non as his chief strate­gist in the White House.

If there’s any doubt about what Don­ald Trump stands for, there’s no doubt about Steve Ban­non. As noted by the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, Amer­ica’s chief watch­dog on hate-crimes, un­der Ban­non’s lead­er­ship of the Bre­it­bart News web­site, “the out­let has un­der­gone a no­tice­able shift to­ward em­brac­ing ideas on the ex­trem­ist fringe of the con­ser­va­tive right. Racist ideas. Race­bait­ing ideas. Anti-Mus­lim and anti-Im­mi­grant ideas. All key tenants mak­ing up an emerg­ing racist ide­ol­ogy known as the ‘Alt-Right.’” Last July, Ban­non him­self proudly de­scribed Bre­it­bart News to jour­nal­ist Sarah Pos­ner as “the plat­form of the alt-right.”

No sur­prise, then, that for­mer KKK wiz­ard David Duke called Ban­non’s ap­point­ment “ex­cel­lent.” Nor that the chair­man of the Amer­i­can Nazi Party said his pick proved that Don­ald Trump might be “for real.” Af­ter all, Ban­non’s a self­pro­claimed “white na­tion­al­ist.” And now he will be al­ways at the pres­i­dent’s side and in the pres­i­dent’s ear.

One thing about Steve Ban­non. You don’t have to look far for ev­i­dence of his hate-filled pol­i­tics. Just check out the Bre­it­bart web­site. It screams out at you on ev­ery page. How can you deny just a touch of misog­yny with head­lines like these: “Birth Con­trol Makes Women Unattrac­tive and Crazy.” Or: “There’s No Hir­ing Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at In­ter­views.”

You would not be wrong to de­tect a hint of anti-Semitism when Bre­it­bart News ze­roes in on “Bill Kris­tol: Repub­li­can Spoiler, Rene­gade Jew.” Or when Ban­non’s ex-wife tes­ti­fied that he ob­jected to send­ing their daugh­ters to Archer School for Girls in Los An­ge­les be­cause of the num­ber of Jews who at­tended.

Strains of out­right racism also of­ten pop up on Bre­it­bart. Just two weeks af­ter the con­fed­er­ate flag-wav­ing Dy­lan Roof gunned down nine AfricanAmer­i­cans at Charleston’s First AME Church, Bre­it­bart’s front page trum­peted: “Hoist It High and Proud: The Con­fed­er­ate Flag Pro­claims A Glo­ri­ous Her­itage.”

Such a flood of ugly com­ments un­leashed an avalanche of crit­i­cism against Ban­non’s new White House job. Se­nate Demo­cratic Leader Harry Reid ac­cused Trump of “plac­ing a cham­pion of white su­prem­a­cists a step away from the Oval Of­fice.” Ore­gon Se­nate Jeff Merkley led a pas­sel of Demo­cratic se­na­tors ask­ing Trump to re­scind the ap­point­ment. Con­ser­va­tive talk show host Glenn Beck de­scribed him as “a night­mare” who wants to “burn it (the sys­tem) down.”

But Trump­sters Kellyanne Con­way, Rudy Gi­u­liani, Newt Gin­grich and oth­ers are just as quick to de­fend him. Trump has a right to choose those he wants to serve in the White House, they in­sist. And be­sides, you have to sep­a­rate Steve Ban­non from Bre­it­bart News. It may be racist, but he’s not. Both ar­gu­ments are non­sense.

No, you can’t sep­a­rate Ban­non from Bre­it­bart. He is Bre­it­bart. He headed the web­site. He de­cided what ar­ti­cles ran, what head­lines read and what edi­to­rial po­si­tions were taken. You can no sooner dis­tin­guish Ban­non from Bre­it­bart than you can dis­tin­guish the madam from what goes on up­stairs in the brothel she runs.

And, of course, ev­ery pres­i­dent has the right to re­cruit his own team. But Steve Ban­non’s dif­fer­ent. He’s the KKK’s fa­vorite. He rep­re­sents the worst of Amer­ica. He doesn’t be­long in the nerve cen­ter of our gov­ern­ment. He doesn’t de­serve to be within 100 miles of the Oval Of­fice.

As for Pres­i­dent Trump, he should re­mem­ber this: While he’s free to name his own team, no­body dis­putes that, he will also be judged by the peo­ple he sur­rounds him­self with. The old adage ap­plies in this case, too: “A man is known by the com­pany he keeps.” When you hang out with a racist, misog­y­nist and anti-Semite, it’s hard to deny you’re not one, too. Or at least you tol­er­ate those same hate­ful views.

How de­press­ing. Ev­ery day, it’s worse than we thought. We not only got stuck with Don­ald Trump. We also got stuck with all his bag­gage, start­ing with Steve Ban­non. Who’s next? David Duke him­self?

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