How bad will it get?
The greatest fear that many Americans have of the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the White House is that he will bring to his presidency the virulent racism, xenophobia, white supremacy, and anti-semitism that played such a visible role in his campaign. The first sign that this fear is justified is the announcement over the weekend that Stephen Bannon will be appointed senior counselor and chief strategist for the President (link). Bannon served as executive chairman of Breitbart News before he was appointed as chief executive of the Trump campaign, and Breitbart has been a virulent purveyor of the extremist racism, anti-semitism, and xenophobia that the Trump campaign churned out in the past year (link, link, link).
The announcement of Bannon’s appointment is very bad news for all of us. It signals that the toxic and hateful values of the alt-right will have a leading voice within the Trump administration.
This is hugely important. The surge of racist threat and violence in the past week across the country is profoundly frightening for everyone who is a potential target, wherever they live, work, and study; and it is equally frightening for those of us who are not likely targets. We all stand together against racism.
It is an unconditional responsibility of the President-elect, and eventually the President, to act vigorously to reverse the course of the rising and emboldened expressions of hate that are currently taking place. Appointing one of the chief propagandists of division and intolerance to any role in the Trump administration is a horrendous signal that Mr. Trump does not understand this responsibility and does not understand the toxic forces that his campaign has unleashed.
So the people demonstrating in cities across the country are right to insist on a central demand: Mr. Trump, denounce racism, denounce hatred, and denounce the alt-right! You must show that you will govern for all Americans, without racism and hatred. Steve Bannon should have no role in your administration.
(Here is a Washington Post story documenting the outrage that has been generated by the Bannon announcement (link).)