Donald Trump’s campaign was largely directed by Steve Bannon. Since his Electoral College victory Trump has announced that Bannon would be anointed as “chief strategist and senior counselor to the President.”
In a way, there is a kind of perverted Trumpian logic in all of this. Bannon did succeed in stoking racist, sexist, xenophobic fervor on the right into an Electoral College victory for the Donald. Bannon is very skilled at stoking conspiracy theories, fake scandals and white male hatred of everyone who isn’t a white male. It is also consistent with the Donald’s other appointments of racist, far-right, nationalist, religious fundamentalist zealots to high positions in his administration.
This essay does not dispute any of that. But, the point is that Steve Bannon is fascist. His only skill is to promote white nationalist and anti-woman rhetoric through unfounded innuendo and the kind of reprehensible provocation the world has not seen since the days of Hermann Goering.
The following is a small caricature of Bannon’s extensive roles from movie director to campaign director that spread hate and seeds of modern day American fascism.
The Making of a Fascist
Bannon started out as a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and eventually became a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations.
He left the military to join the Mergers and Acquisitions department at Goldman Sachs, a department whose job it was to loot troubled corporations and dispose of thousands of workers, and their pension funds, for short-term profits.
In 1990, after acquiring considerable wealth through economic plunder Bannon left Goldman Sachs for his own investment bank cleverly named Bannon and Company. Obviously he had been well schooled by his tenure at the most rapaciously degenerate of all the investment banks, Goldman Sachs. At Bannon and Co., he specialized in takeovers involving television programming, obtaining a stake in five TV shows including Seinfeld. Using his television holdings as a base he began to produce “documentaries.”
By 2004 Bannon was Hollywood bound. His first film was Face of Evil, a hagiography about Ronnie Reagan, portraying Reagan as an anticommunist crusader who had battled the film industry’s unions and ending with Ronnie’s White House tenure.
In 2010 Bannon produced another movie entitled Battle for America in which he glorified the Tea Party. He wrapped up his movie career with Occupy Unmasked in which he fantasized about drug use, sedition and sexual permissiveness in the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is instructive to note that this film was peppered with stock footage including a lion attacking a gazelle, a metaphor for the Occupy movement, and a seed growing into a beautiful flower, a metaphor for the “alt-right.”
The Flowering of a Fascist: Breitbart
In March 2012 Bannon became the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a right-wing media outlet which Bannon successfully transformed into an “alt-right” hate site.
It was on Breitbart’s website that we were introduced to the “alt-right.” In an article entitled, “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to The Alt-Right,” the origins of that movement were described as emanating from paleo-conservative presidential campaigns of Pat Buchannan, Marie Le Pen’s French New Right and German and Italian fascist parties. The references to “Blood and Soil” and “Blood and Spirit” constituted a clear tip of the hat to Mussolini’s fascists and Hitler’s Nazis.
The xenophobic and racist content of Breitbart news under Bannon’s direction are clear from its headlines: “Muslim rape culture;” “mass Muslim immigration;” “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy;” and “Trans Hate Machine.”
It was in Breitbart stories that the lies about American Muslims celebrating the 9/11 attacks were born. It was in those stories that conservative columnist Bill Kristol is labeled as a “renegade Jew.” Bannon’s own columns frequently make use of the ultra-right-wing militaristic phrase “blood and honor” and praise for the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Breitbart and the Confederacy
Nine people participating in a Bible study class at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were murdered on June 17, 2015 by white nationalist Dylann Roof.
Roof’s explanation for the murders was that he wished to start a “race war” which would return the nation to the days of a segregated South. His on-line photo, posing with Nazi symbols and a Confederate flag foreshadowed his intentions. There was national outrage against the Confederate flag which symbolizes slavery, racism and lynching.
Bannon’s Breitbart responded with a headline reading “Hoist it High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage.” The article accused those outraged by the murders of promoting cultural genocide against white Southern tradition and states’ rights. The article also accused opponents of the Confederate flag of supporting compulsory homosexuality. Breitbart’s conclusion was:
Those who initiated identity politics are attempting to obliterate the Southern identity. There is only one response: defiance. Every tree, every rooftop, every picket fence, every telegraph pole in the South should be festooned with the Confederate battle flag. Hoist it high and fly it with pride, it proclaims a glorious heritage.
Bannon’s Anti-Immigrant Racism
On his radio show Bannon praised Jason Richwie as “an American hero.” Richwie claims that Hispanics have lower IQs that non-Hispanic whites. In his interview with Richwie, Bannon cited the book The Camp of the Saints, a French novel by Jean Raspail which depicts the white Christian Western world as having been overrun by “dark-skinned” starving masses from the Third World in apparent allusion to a passage in the Book of Revelations, which culminates in a final cataclysm where “good” white Christians prevail.
A Misogynist in the White House
Milo Yiannopoulos is Bannon’s handpicked “technology editor” at Breitbart. In that role, he has been the leading progenitor of “Gamergate.” Gamergate is a repulsive and vicious organized campaign of sexist, degrading violent threats against women who have played significant roles in video-game development. This wave of rape and death threats reached its peak in 2015. It included both on-line and physical stalking, terrorist threatening and false reports to the police. Yiannopoulos defended this misogynistic onslaught writing that Gamergate was:
… where gamers fought back against the nannying, hectoring feelings police and were branded ‘harassers’ and ‘misogynists … Women are – and you won’t hear this anywhere else – screwing up the internet for men by invading every space we have online and ruining it with attention-seeking and a needy, demanding, touchy-feely form of modern feminism that quickly comes into conflict with men’s natural tendency to be boisterous, confrontational and delightfully autistic … Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining. It will be fun! Like a big fraternity…
Yea, Bannon is indeed running a big, fascist fraternity with the Donald as the BMOC frat boy.
It is also worth noting that in January 2016 Bannon was charged with several misdemeanors in relation to his second wife. Among the charges were domestic violence, battering and interfering with a witness.
Bannon, Xenophobia and anti-Muslim Hate
Bannon, while hosting his SiriusXM radio show featured Pamela Geller on his show seven times. He introduced her as “one of the top world experts in radical Islam and Sharia law and Islamic supremacism.” Geller’s “expertise” consists of a pathologically frenzied campaign to close a Muslim Community Center in New York City. Without any evidence, she claimed that the community center would become a “victory mosque” to celebrate the 9/11 attacks. She went to say that President Obama (who she refers to as “Hussein”) “… is a muhammadan [a follower of Mohammed]. He’s not insane … he wants jihad to win.”
Geller’s fanatical xenophobia is clearly on display in her response to the 2011 mass murder in Norway carried out by white supremacist/fascist Anders Breivik. Breivik murdered 77 people, mostly white teenagers at a youth camp. He claimed he did it because these young people were supportive of the “Islamization of Europe.” To justify his claims, he cited Geller 12 times in his murderous manifesto.
It wasn’t Islam which incited the murders it was Breitbart’s Islam expert.
The Finishing Touch: Breitbart and Anti-Semitism
Bannon and his Breitbart website are consistent disseminators of made-up conspiracy theories blaming Jews for economic problems, wars and a vast conspiracy against Christians. Bannon managed to incorporate this virulent anti-Semitism into the Trump campaign itself through a campaign ad which showed the pictures of well-known Jewish financiers and government officials as the announcer said:
… those who control the levers of power in Washington … a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.
For those who need reminding Hermann Goering was the President of Hitler’s Reichstag. Goering was instrumental in managing Hitler’s rise to power while using his contacts and associations with conservative politicians, industrial leaders and army officers to smooth over their problems with the Nazi Party and eventually bring Hitler to power. In other words, Goering was Hitler’s “chief strategist and senior counselor.”
David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader and Don Advo, a radio host with strong neo-Nazi sympathies celebrated Bannon’s new position as Trump’s chief strategist. Advo commented “we appear to have taken over,” a sentiment with which Duke strongly agreed.
And indeed, that seems to be true. Long-time Republican strategist Rick Wilson said that Breitbart was “acting like Der Stürmer in Germany in the 1930s more than actually a legitimate conservative media outlet.” Wilson went on to say that Trump was “the human avatar of the Breitbart comments section: stupid, vulgar, racist, anti-Semitic, vile in almost every aspect.”
It is instructive to note, following up on Mr. Wilson, that the publisher of Der Stürmer was convicted at the Nuremberg Trials of war crimes.
Just as Goering managed Hitler’s electoral efforts, Bannon managed Trump’s campaign. Bannon reached out to businessmen, politicians and generals on the far-right to both support Trump and to fill the top-level positions in the administration.
Steve Bannon is a xenophobe, a misogynist, a racist, an anti-Semite and a hater of LGBTQ people.
Steve Bannon is a fascist in the White House.
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Gary Potter, Ph.D.
School of Justice Studies
Eastern Kentucky University