Interesting Food for Thought on Steve Bannon

Interesting food for thought:

Tom1

Tom Usher

Accusers also reference the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says Bannon promotes white supremacy, yet the SPLC’s credibility is in question. Indeed, just last month SPLC published a list of anti-Muslim extremists that fraudulently included Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. For those unfamiliar with this case, allow me to quickly explain.

Nawaz, a former recruiter for an Islamist group who spent nearly five years in an Egyptian prison, now dedicates his life to challenging the Islamist narrative. He co-founded the world's first counter-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation.

Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch Member of Parliament and human rights activist, is a champion of women’s rights and spirited critic of several practices extant throughout the Muslim world such as honor killings and female genital mutilation (which she personally endured).

Hirsi Ali was even named as one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine.

The decision to add these heroes who defend liberal values to an “extremist” list sparked widespread outrage and a petition that was created urging them to be removed has received thousands of signatures. Are the folks at SPLC unfamiliar with Aesop's fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

Source: Steve Bannon — what do you actually know about him?

“Breitbart is the most pro-Israel site in the United States of America,” he said, pushing back on charges that the right-wing outlet had trafficked in anti-Semitism. “I have Breitbart Jerusalem, which I have Aaron Klein run with about 10 reporters there. We’ve been leaders in stopping this BDS movement” -- referring to boycott, divestment and sanctions -- “in the United States; we’re a leader in the reporting of young Jewish students being harassed on American campuses; we’ve been a leader on reporting on the terrible plight of the Jews in Europe.”

As for headlines like the one that labeled conservative pundit Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew,” Bannon said it was written by author David Horowitz.

Bannon also rejected the label of “white nationalist,” as some on the left have described him. “I’m an economic nationalist. I am an America first guy. And I have admired nationalist movements throughout the world, have said repeatedly strong nations make great neighbors. I’ve also said repeatedly that the ethno-nationalist movement, prominent in Europe, will change over time. I’ve never been a supporter of ethno-nationalism,” he told Strassel.

Source: Steve Bannon fires back at the media

... Steve Bannon, Trump's senior advisor—this new administration's own Karl Rove, who helped make Breitbart the home cesspool of the racist, sexist alt-right, and whose appointment to the White House has been celebrated by the KKK and the American Nazi Party.

Re-read the two sources above, and then ask yourself whether that last snippet is painting with a brush that's too broad.

“Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement,” he told Wolff. “It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”

(For my own sanity, I'd like to think that Bannon is thinking of the New Deal's public works when he references the 1930s, as opposed to the rise of European fascism. But I'm not 100 percent confident.)

Source: Steve Bannon Is Dreaming of a Permanent Trumpist Majority

The last paragraph in that last snippet shows poor reading skills or gross ignorance or both. First and foremost, the fascism of 1930's Europe was ethnocentric. Bannon is guilty of retaining neoclassical economic theories but is careful to say "economic nationalist."

The Left flings charges of anti-Semitism and racism at pretty much anyone they dislike. Bannon has been one of their targets, the evidence adduced being some of Breitbart's content and allegations made during a heated child custody battle. But the Anti-Defamation League acknowledges there is no definitive example of Bannon ever saying anything anti-Semitic, and his Jewish former employees at Breitbart have strenuously defended him from the charge.
...
Bannon said he wanted to make Breitbart News "the platform for the alt-right," and the alt-right is undeniably streaked with strands of racism and anti-Semitism. The name sounds like "alternative right," suggesting merely a conservative option to Bushism or the neoconservatism of the last decade. Many well-meaning people who reject globalism, free trade, liberalized immigration, or Bush-era foreign policy might be attracted to both the idea and the label.

But "alt-right" is a clever marketing term intended to rebrand white nationalism. Assuming Bannon means it when he describes himself as "an economic nationalist" and not a racist or white nationalist, what is the proper response to the fact that the movement includes enthusiastic subscribers to views that all decent people reject? Racism is not something to co-opt, sanitize or attempt to marry to conservative ideals, with which it is incompatible.
...
... some pundits absurdly suggest 61 million people were inspired by racism to choose Trump. The many small cities and counties that voted for President Obama once or even twice but then helped flip five key blue states to the Republican nominee did not do so out of racial animus.

But there are racist supporters of Trump, and now that he is to be president it's more important than ever that he prevent the idea that racism is a majority idea from growing and that racists have won. He must distance himself from their vile propaganda.

Let's look at the following:

... "alt-right" is a clever marketing term intended to rebrand white nationalism. Assuming Bannon means it when he describes himself as "an economic nationalist" and not a racist or white nationalist, what is the proper response to the fact that the movement includes enthusiastic subscribers to views that all decent people reject? Racism is not something to co-opt, sanitize or attempt to marry to conservative ideals, with which it is incompatible.

"... "alt-right" is a clever marketing term intended to rebrand white nationalism." Is it? "... alt-right is undeniably streaked with strands of racism ...." Look at what is done in the name of Christianity that flies in the face of Jesus's words and deeds. Plenty of people run around using the term Christian as a pejorative on account of it, as if Christians are simply people who say of themselves that they are Christians and contrary to Jesus's own teaching on what it means to be a Christian (what defines the very term) and regardless of whether they follow Jesus's words and deeds at all.

Alt-right does stand for alternative right, which in Bannon's case means alternative to neoclassical "free trade." Just because there are other "right-wing" alternatives to recently established right-wingism doesn't mean that it is proper to lump all "alt-right" together as being under the banner of racism or that all those who subscribe to right-wing alternatives to that recently established right-wingism are of, by, or for racism.

Look at the term "Zionism." There are Zionists in Israel who are in favor of BDS. Then there are Zionists there who want to literally exterminate all Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza so Israelis may move into those areas without any opposition. Is it proper to denounce anti-BDS Zionism because of those Zionists who are beyond supremacists to the point of being genocidal against an entire ethnic group for not being Jewish? No, it is not; and I say that as one who opposes Zionism because of its ethnocentric "democracy."

The extreme attacks on Bannon really are reaching/stretching. Here's one from Mother Jones: "Here's Evidence Steve Bannon Joined a Facebook Group That Posts Racist Rants and Obama Death Threats: Another clue about his politics?." Wow! Grow up. Being a member of a Facebook group where some people post stupid things would sink almost anyone who isn't walking on eggshells in fear of being painted due to supposed "associations." Guilt by association? Notice how Mother Jones leaves itself a tiny out: "Another clue about his politics?" That question mark is completely overwhelmed by the article. Anyone reading it who believes that the authors aren't engaging in false propaganda attempting to get all readers to believe the guilt by association is either stupid, ignorant, or both. I've joined FB groups just to see what people with whom I disagree are saying. Also, some of the statements posted by Mother Jones as evidence of awfulness really aren't that unreasonable. Some of them are downright sensible.

Here's the article that got this latest wave started on the Internet and in the mainstream media. It's worth the read: "Ringside With Steve Bannon at Trump Tower as the President-Elect's Strategist Plots "An Entirely New Political Movement" (Exclusive)."

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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