Of all the people close to President Donald Trump, perhaps none are quite as controversial than his chief strategist, former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon. The 62-year-old former purveyor of hard-right, often racist and xenophobic news site Breitbart is now widely considered one of the most powerful people in Trump's orbit, which is why ― amid the administration's hotly contested Muslim ban ― his personal views on Islam are coming under heightened scrutiny. And here's something big on that front: a disturbing part of Bannon's anti-Islam movie script, written back in 2007.
The Washington Post's Matea Gold got the scoop, and it's a doozy. According to Gold's report, the 10-year-old script draft ― co-authored by Bannon and his writing partner Julia Jones ― is titled Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Facism [sic] in America. But more importantly, the content of the outlined film is absolutely drenched in a paranoid Islamophobic hysteria that's right in line with the kind of hard-right anti-Islam extremism that Breitbart has often trafficked in.
And in particular, this one fact really stands out. Although the full eight-page draft hasn't been released, the report notes the following about what groups and institutions Bannon allegedly viewed as enablers of a march toward what he dubs "the Islamic States of America," in the film.
Here's how Gold characterized it:
The outline warns about “front groups and disingenuous Muslim Americans who preach reconciliation and dialogue in the open but, behind the scenes, advocate hatred and contempt for the West.”
It names the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America as examples of such “cultural jihadists.”
The proposal also lists other “enablers,” including The Post, the New York Times, NPR, “Universities and the Left,” the “American Jewish Community,” the ACLU, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department and the White House.
To be clear, this was written back in 2007, when the Bush administration was still in power, and was actively fighting two major, publicly known wars in the Middle East ― Iraq and Afghanistan ― in the name of combating fundamentalist Islamic terrorism. That wasn't the public justification for the Iraq war at its inception, so much as false claims about Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, but it was certainly part of the administration's argument by 2007. And in Afghanistan, combating al Qaeda was the publicly stated goal all along, albeit with a dose of nation-building.
All this would mean, in other words, that even the Bush administration's willingness to embroil itself in multiple wars in the Middle East, in majority-Muslim nations and against Muslim combatants, still left Bannon believing the CIA, FBI, State Department, and White House were involved in a coddling and enabling of "radical Islam."
It's hard to see that as anything but a function of then-President Bush's conciliatory public tact toward the Muslim faith as a whole. For all his faults, he more than once referred to Islam as a "religion of peace," and avoided casting his wars as clashes of dueling faiths and civilizations (with a memorable exception). While it's not exactly news, given Bannon's vehement public statements disparaging Islam, this would seem to demonstrate that one of the most powerful and influential people in the U.S. government believes open, belligerent antagonism is the necessary mark of American strength, not mere military might paired with inclusive, finely-crafted rhetoric.
That's before you even touch the anti-Semitic part of it ― heaping blame on the "American Jewish Community" is not nuanced or specific, and does not leave much to the imagination. Similarly, his reported lumping in of NPR, the Washington Post, and The New York Times would seem to make it pretty clear why he felt so comfortable angrily telling the media to "shut up" last week.
All in all, it's a deeply worrying piece of reporting, and one that will likely fuel further outcry about Bannon's rapid ascension to the halls of power. Just last week, the Trump administration placed him and Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus on the NSC Principals Committee, giving them permanent seats for some of the highest-level national security decisions in the country. Bannon was also present at the meeting in which President Trump authorized a reportedly bloody and botched Seal Team Six raid in Yemen last week, alongside Vice President Mike Pence, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.