Like many of you, my head is still spinning from the events of last Tuesday. The world feels a little unreal — or a lot unreal — as the actuality of a Donald Trump presidency (nope, still sounds funny… still sounds wrong) sets in. Among the more alarming headlines that surfaced over the weekend was that Steve Bannon will be chief strategist to Trump in the White House. Bannon’s impending prominent place in the White House is giving many people pause: the former head of the alt-right “news” site Breitbart.com and later Trump Campaign CEO (whatever that was) has taken some pretty unpleasant positions over the years. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman said the appointment of Bannon top executive branch role "signals that white supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House.”
One of the emerging qualities of Trump, first as a candidate and now as a president-elect, is his almost total unpredictability — for example, after his meeting with President Barack Obama last week, Trump seemed to soften his stance on the Affordable Care Act — and that is adding to the general unmoored feeling. That Bannon will continue to occupy such an influential role is disquieting at best, and alarming at worst. To underscore just how problematic his presence at Trump’s side is, here are seven Bannon quotes that could keep you up at night.
Bannon On Feminists
In 2011, Bannon said that conservative women are attacked by progressives because they aren't a "bunch of dykes from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.” Bannon claimed on Political Vindication Radio that “there are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement. That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children." Bannon’s reductiveness seems to forget (a) that being a feminist and being a wife and mother are far from antithetical and (b) that the most prominent female figures on the left are in fact wives and mothers.
Bannon On Racists In The Alt-Right
“Are there racist people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely,” he told Mother Jones' Sarah Posner at this year's Republican National Convention. It is just one example of the cognitive dissonance exercised by Bannon that somehow separates the poisonous ideas espoused by the alt-Right movement and the people who consume them.
Bannon On Anti-Semites In The Alt-Right
“Are there anti-Semitic people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely…. But I don't believe that the movement overall is anti-Semitic,” Bannon said in the same interview with Mother Jones' Posner. That last part about the "movement overall" not being anti-Semitic in Bannon's eyes is cold, cold comfort.
Bannon On Jewish People
According to statements made in a 2007 court filing by Bannon's ex-wife, Mary Louise Piccard, that was reported by the New York Daily News, Trump's future White House senior adviser allegedly did not want his daughters around Jews. Bannon’s ex-wife alleged that Bannon made several anti-Semitic remarks while the divorced couple was trying to agree on schooling for their daughters, saying he didn’t like the way Jews raise their kids to be “whiney brats” and that he didn’t want his daughters going to school with Jews.
Bannon On Elites
“An elite is someone who’s for themselves and not for the country.” Bannon was trying to differentiate between Republicans like Mitt Romney (an elite) and Sarah Palin (a... patriot?). It's a definition that falls apart almost as soon as you pick it up, and it makes you wonder if Bannon has even met Trump.
Bannon On The Core Values Of The Country
“Hollywood does not understand Middle America, and it certainly does not understand and, in fact, despises, the core values of the country,” Bannon said in a 2010 radio interview. Pushing that divide between "real" America and Hollywood is so perturbing because it's hard not to view it as a dog-whistle to anti-Semites. Hollywood is so often code for "Jewish" and the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories as under Jewish or Zionist control that Bannon's framing of Hollywood as the enmy is irksome.
Bannon On The Clintons
In an interview with News.Com.Au, Bannon had harsh words for the Clintons. “They are trailer trash. They are grifters,” he said. There are plenty of legitimate complaints people may have of the Clintons, but calling them “trailer trash” is a bullying technique, and sadly, one we can probably expect to see more of in the coming years.
Bannon On George Clooney
Clooney, a major supporter of Clinton and who early-on dismissed the viability of a Trump presidency, earned special venom from Bannon. “George Clooney, who is a moron, came here to Cannes and gave a press conference saying, ‘Under no circumstances will Trump ever be president. Hillary Clinton will be the next president.’ Well, we can’t wait to make George Clooney eat his words,” Bannon boasted.
Bannon is often very careful about what he says on the record, but if he ends up playing a pivotal role in Trump’s White House, we can expect to hear much more stomach-churning words coming from his quarter.