“Fire Bannon” Tweets Demand Trump Drops The Supposed Architect Of The Alt-Right
In the wake of this weekend's tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which counter-protesters were hit by a speeding car, many people are now taking to Twitter to demand that Trump fires Steve Bannon, who has been criticized as the supposed "architect" of the alt-right. Twitter users, as well as civil rights leaders, have accused Bannon of perpetuating divisiveness and intolerance. Particularly in the wake of the bigotry-driven tragedy in Charlottesville, they are now calling upon Trump to remove him from his position as White House Chief Strategist.
Bannon was appointed to his position in the White House shortly after Trump's inauguration. Prior to acting as White House Chief Strategist, Bannon was a founding member and later executive chair of Breitbart News, an alt-right news site that, according to TIME, has "pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic material into the vein of the alt right." Indeed, many believe that Bannon used Breitbart as a mouthpiece to bring these extreme alt-right views to the conservative mainstream, with Bannon himself saying in 2016 that Breitbart was "the platform for the alt-right," essentially rendering himself the "architect" of the alt-right. Though the alt-right is more and more frequently associated with white nationalism, it's important to note that it has no single definition.
For his part, Bannon has not commented on recent public demands for Trump to fire him, nor has he addressed the recent allegations that alt-right rhetoric, which he supposedly helped perpetuate, has contributed to a national environment in which those who espouse hatred feel empowered. However, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in 2016, Bannon did say that he "has zero tolerance" for "racist or anti-Semitic views." Moreover, in March, an old friend of Bannon's wrote a long article in the Los Angeles Times defending Bannon, specifically noting that the author did not believe Bannon to be a "racist" or an "anti-Semite."
Still, many Twitter users have accused Bannon of bringing this divisive alt-right perspective to the White House, further cultivating a national atmosphere in which people are emboldened by bigotry. For example, one woman noted on Twitter that she believes Bannon, " ... normalized a new white supremacy & must be held responsible." Another Twitter user referred to Bannon as an "ally" of "bigots" and demanded that the president fire him immediately.
In addition to the public, government officials and civil rights leaders also called on Trump to fire Bannon, particularly in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy. Congressman Ted Lieu of California took to Twitter to protest Bannon's continued presence in the White House, saying "The bigoted policies of President Bannon are tearing our country apart. It is time to #FireBannon."
Moreover, Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told reporters during a press briefing on Sunday that "Supporters of white supremacists, violent extremism, racial bigotry and neo-Nazis should not serve in the White House or any level of government." Again, Bannon has denied holding racist views. Gupta and several other organizational leaders had been speaking with reporters about their organizations' desires to have Bannon as well as Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to Trump, fired.
However, while many Twitter users and public officials are calling for Bannon to leave his post, some members of the public did take to social media to defend Bannon. One user stated that he believes that those who want Bannon fired want to "bring down the President" by installing a "globalist" in Bannon's place. Moreover, another user claimed that calls for Bannon to be fired seemed vacuous and asked fellow social media users to list the reasons why they believed he should be terminated from his position.
Nonetheless, there certainly seems to be growing momentum on Twitter and among political and organizational leaders seeking to have Bannon fired. It is unclear whether Trump will respond to these demands. In other words, time will tell if Bannon remains in the White House — or if Trump decides to remove him from his post. However, it is clear from Sunday's tweets that many people would certainly not be sad to see Bannon gone for good.