White supremacist doesn’t belong in the White House
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?