Remember all those times the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center responded simultaneously with concern that a presidential appointee was the leader of a hate group? You don’t, because it never happened before now.
Those are just two of the institutions sounding alarms over President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. Bannon previously served as the CEO of Trump’s election campaign, and is best known as the executive chairman of the far-right Breitbart News website.
Breitbart has been a driving force behind the alt-right movement, which is really just fossilized white nationalist conservatism with better memes. In fact, Bannon has flatly called it “the platform for the alt-right.” The stories it publishes are frequently homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and openly racist. There’s a reason so many white supremacists are openly cheering Bannon’s new role.
Bannon has also openly described himself and his fellow alt-right thinkers as nationalists in the vein of the notorious far-right National Front in France.
All of this should be enough to disqualify any person from being a part of the government. But Bannon has been accused of personal anti-Semitism in the past.
In divorce court documents over the summer obtained by the New York Daily News, Bannon’s ex-wife, Mary Louise Piccard, said he made anti-Semitic statements about a school they were considering for their daughters.
“The biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend,” the Daily News reported. “He said that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”
Piccard also claims Bannon physically abused her and then later threatened her to get her to leave town so she wouldn’t be able to testify after he was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence.
Bannon’s spokeswoman has repeatedly denied both his anti-Semitic statements and the domestic violence charges.
Team Trump doesn’t seem to be fazed by the accusations or the widespread concern about Bannon. In an appearance this morning on Fox & Friends (where else), newly minted Trump chief of staff Reince Preibus dismissed the outcry.
“He was a force for good on the campaign,” Priebus told Fox News. “I haven’t seen any of these things that people are crying out about. … It’s a good team, it works.”