Yes, Stephen Bannon is a white nationalist.
A lot of people have been coming forward since Breitbart News chairman Stephen Bannon’s appointment as Donald Trump’s “Chief Strategist,” concerned that a white nationalist occupies such a high position in our government. However, other people have been curious: what evidence is there behind this bold claim?
This is a fair question, and there is a lot of misinformation about this on the Internet. Modern white nationalism is complex, and trying to pin Stephen Bannon down to specific labels like “anti-semite” or “white supremacist” without much evidence is inaccurate. I don’t think exaggeration helps anyone, but I also don’t think we should completely dismiss these issues just because they are complicated. Here is why I am still deeply concerned:
He has said that Breitbart News under his leadership was a “platform for the alt-right.” The “alt-right” movement is hard to define, but to understand Bannon’s beliefs, it should definitely be fair to use the description published on Breitbart. This portrays them in the most positive light you’ll ever see, and still acknowledges: that the term was coined by open white nationalist Richard B. Spencer; that they believe “culture is inseparable from race;” that they want to “build homogeneous communities;” and that they are against immigration, even legal immigration which “makes perfect economic sense,” in order to preserve their “own tribe and its culture.” They aren’t quite the same as Neo-Nazis or the KKK, but even at their absolute best, they believe a nation must be racially and culturally pure and homogeneous, and that preserving racial homogeneity is more important even than economic strength.
Stephen Bannon does not often express his views specifically, but if we can infer his views from his actions: he controls a website, he claims the website is a platform for the alt-right, and the website defines the alt-right under clearly racial nationalist terms. There’s no single quote where he admits to white nationalism, but in the context of Breitbart’s definition of the alt-right, it can’t be denied. Oh, and he’s a big fan of the stunningly racist novel Camp of the Saints, in which refugees are a plague that must be slaughtered. And he recommends the proto-Fascist writer Julius Evola, who believed that equality is a modern distractions and we must return to traditional racial and social hierarchies. And he’s a fan of the French fascist writer Charles Maurras, who thought the concept of individual liberty was a lie spread by Jews and people should submit to the collective will of their nation. And check out this interview with Trump, where Trump points out that retaining smart immigrants is good for the country, to which Bannon replies “when two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think…” before trailing off and switching to the more diplomatic “a country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.” Which is still a clear echo of the definition of alt-right published on his website: that a country is more than just an economy, it must be a unified race and culture.
You don’t have to take it from me, either: there are plenty of former Breitbart staffers from before Bannon’s takeover who understand that he’s a propagandist for racist causes. These are not politically correct, far-left people; Breitbart was always a provocative and right-wing publication, but those who worked under Stephen Bannon and former head Andrew Breitbart have been saying for months that Bannon turned it into something far more sinister. The head editor under Bannon has admitted stories aren’t run unless they fit specific narratives, largely focused on threats to race and culture. Former writer Ben Shapiro wrote in the decidedly conservative Daily Wire that “under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart openly embraced the white supremacist alt-right,” while former spokesman Kurt Bardella has said Breitbart is no better than state-run propaganda and “everyone should be terrified” of Bannon in the White House, and other staffers are leaving with similar concerns. There’s a difference between being politically incorrect and being manipulative, propagandist, and covertly racist, and a lot of politically incorrect people believe Bannon is the latter.
All this is combined with the simple fact that open white nationalists across America are celebrating his appointment. Without exaggerating his views, he is still absolutely unfit to advise the leader of a diverse nation founded on egalitarian principles. Don’t let the discussion of Stephen Bannon’s danger get sucked into debating specific terms. This is a distraction; no, he isn’t a Neo-Nazi or a Klansman. But Donald Trump could have appointed a top adviser with experience helping the economy, or in foreign policy; instead, he appointed a professional propagandist who consistently promotes xenophobes and nativists. Americans from all over the political spectrum agree: he and his white nationalism have no place in the White House.