For more than a month, we here at the Muckraker, as well as multiple traditional news outlets have been raising the alarm about the influence of alt-right anti-Semitism and white nationalism in the Trump campaign. Most of the time this has been drowned out by other controversies or brushed off by Trump supporters. Now, however, Republicans themselves have started to express concern.
In one of the most disturbing developments to-date, despite Trump’s calls for unity and his sudden potential flexibility on once rock-hard campaign promises, Trump is reported to favor alt-right air marshal, Stephen K. Bannon, for his all-important Chief of Staff position, while more responsible Republicans have been pressing for RNC Chair Reince Priebus.
The demotion of Trump transition chair, Chris Christie, does not bode well. We’re by no means huge fans of Christie, whose bullying manner toward those weaker than him has been surpassed during the campaign only by the likes of Giuliani and Trump. It was Christie, after all, who helped crystallize the “Lock Her Up” chants at what conservative columnist George Will described as the Nuremburg rally-like Republican national convention.
But Christie was also a serious governor with real-world governing experience. He recognized the value of that experience, the positive role government can play (remember his thanks for President Obama’s efforts after Hurricane Sandy), and thus reportedly argued for including in the administration some of those Republicans who disagreed with Trump – a wise tradition followed by almost every president, including Abraham Lincoln.
None of this apparently sat well with the alt-right crowd in Trump’s inner circle. Some have argued publicly that “bridgegate” was the issue. That’s a bit hard to swallow. Trump has been documented to have done far worse things and faces far more lawsuits than Christie. That he would turn his back on Christie because of that seems ludicrous. What seems far more likely is that the combination of the alt-right forces and animous toward Christie of Trump’s son-in-law played the chief role in Christie’s demise by whispering in Trump’s ear that Christie, despite being one of the first former rivals to come out and support Trump, was not sufficiently enthusiastic during the campaign. It was also, after all, Christie who successfully prosecuted Trump’s son-in-law’s father for illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering.
With Christie gone, the only thing that appears to stand in the way of alt-right anti-Semites and white nationalists having significant influence on a Trump administration is Reince Priebus. And already alt-right forces are pushing back hard against the numerous recommendations (including from Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) that Priebus be made Trump’s Chief of Staff. The Tea Party Patriots Citizen’s Fund (TPPCF) issued a statement saying that “No Washington insider, regardless of who it is, should serve as President Trump’s chief of staff. Appointing Reince Priebus (or any other DC establishment insider) would make it more difficult, not less, for President Trump to achieve the change the people voted for. It’s time to drain the swamp — not promote insiders beholden to the Washington establishment who helped create it.”
It’s become clear to us over time that far too many Trump supporters are oblivious to the tenets of the alt-right that Stephen K. Bannon has been promoting within the Trump campaign and would undoubtedly promote in a Trump administration. He represents a dangerous fringe element in American politics that appeals to a particularly distasteful strain of nativism and nationalism in our country. It’s time to make sure everyone, especially those who want a Trump administration to be successful, knows what Bannon and the alt-right are about.
Until he became CEO of the Trump campaign in August, Bannon was the Executive Chairman of Brietbart News, of which Bannon himself said at the Republican convention in July, “We’re the platform for the alt-right.” In an article on Bannon today, The Times of Israel described the Alt-Right as “an amorphous designation that encompasses an array of white supremacist groups, “white nationalists” and neo-Nazis.” So before we talk more about Bannon himself, let’s make sure everyone is clear on the nature of the alt-right, as described by a variety of sources, including the movement’s founders and advocates.
The term Alternative Right originated in 2008 with Richard Bertrand Spencer, who leads the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank. It subscribes to far-right ideals centered on “white identity” and the preservation of “Western civilization.” Today it has become tied closely with the concept of Identitarianism, which is a European ideology that emphasizes cultural and racial homogeneity within countries. The American version is particularly hostile to the baby boomers that form the base of the Republican Party, a position consistent with Bannon’s own vicious attacks on the Republican Party for not being conservative enough.
There is diversity of far-right thought within the alt-right movement that includes disagreement with regard to Jews and whether or not to blame them for the difficulties in white culture, which is a belief that has been prevalent in white nationalist circles for decades. Some alt-right leaders are clearly anti-Semitic. Movement founder Richard Spencer, for example, has repeatedly promoted anti-Semitic speakers at events. In March of this year he invited Kevin MacDonald to speak at an event on identity politics. MacDonald is the author of a trilogy “purporting to show that Jews seek to undermine the host Christian societies in which they often live.” When questioned by a reporter about the Holocaust, Spencer said that if it “really happened, then of course it wasn’t justified. If it happened differently than what the story we’ve been told [is], then I think that needs to be let out.” At the same event, MacDonald claimed that the rise of Donald Trump was part of a white backlash against present-day politics. Spencer said that Trump was creating a political space (whether he knows it or not) in which the alt-right could grow.
Another of the alt-right heroes is Mike Enoch, whose blog permeates much of the alt-right universe. It’s hard to even contemplate the sort of thing that Enoch writes. Here is but one example from this year:
“At the core of the JI [Jewish Identity] is a malevolent supremacy. This is the manifest in their rejection of outgroups who wish to participate and innovate traditional Jewish cultural activities. Why reject diversity and progress within your community if not a false feeling of ‘betterness’? The root of this problem is, of course, a sexual feeling of inferiority. Mighty psychosexual urges must not be downplayed within group dynamics. As a remedy to this, the JI must be infiltrated with foreign members to procreate with their men and women. That way, the deep psychological psychosis can be treated at the root.”
Brietbart has attempted at various times and in various ways to explain with some precision what the alt-right wants and distinguish it from racism or white nationalism. The hair-splitting answers are not encouraging. Here’s one: “They want to build their homogeneous communities,” after “liberals” allow conservative areas of their countries to reject the status quo on race, immigration and gender…. They want their own communities, populated by their own people and governed by their own values.”
These are but a few examples – among a landslide of information – regarding some of the dominant beliefs in the alt-right movement for which Bannon proudly proclaimed in July that Brietbart is a platform.
As for Bannon himself, he has been accused by his own ex-wife of making anti-Semitic comments, physically assaulting her, and dissuading her from testifying against him. Bannon denies her allegations, but Bannon has been documented on audio and in print making comments that drain the blood from one’s face. Then there are the anti-Semitic tropes that emerged in Donald Trump’s prepared speeches once Bannon took over as campaign CEO. Unknown to the general public, these were call signals to the anti-Semites of the alt-right universe.
Bannon has long excoriated the bulk of the Republican Party for not being conservative enough, but his actions at Brietbart when he saw an opportunity to insert himself into the Trump movement, dismayed even his own far-right supporters.
As reported at the time, back in March senior staffers left Briebart News when, they allege, Bannon sold out the organization to become a mouthpiece for Trump for Bannon’s own personal agenda and gain. While the signs had been building, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Bannon helped Trump smear one of Brietbart’s own reporters, Michelle Fields, by insinuating she was a liar for saying that she had been grabbed by then-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, when video evidence showed she was telling the truth.
This is the person that Trump allegedly prefers as his Chief of Staff. As we have said repeatedly, we think Trump himself is ignorant of the anti-Semitic, white nationalism that Brietbart and Bannon promote. We instead believe that Bannon is manipulating Trump through a combination of flattery and appeals to Trump’s baser instincts. Chris Christie was someone who could have and most likely would have stood up to Bannon. His demotion is not good news for the country. Bannon should have no place in a U.S. president’s administration, and all reasonable hopes now rest on the appointment of Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff.
Please President-Elect Trump, do the right thing.