President-elect Donald Trump has announced that controversial alt-right leader Steve Bannon will be his Chief Strategist in the White House, sparking a backlash from critics who point to Bannon’s white nationalist and anti-Semitic views as a sign that the Trump administration will turn its often-vitriolic campaign rhetoric into policy.
“President-elect Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as his top aide signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House,” said the spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Sunday.
Reid spox: Bannon’s new WH position “signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House.” pic.twitter.com/oIl3J5gIXY
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) November 14, 2016
Bannon left his position at the super-conservative outlet Breitbart News to join the Trump campaign in August. Known as a leader of the emerging alt-right movement – a group of extreme right-wingers associated with white supremacism, anti-Semitism, and nativism – Bannon represents a dangerous ideology, said many of those who spoke out against the appointment.
“It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ – a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house,’” said Anti-Defamation League (ADL) head Jonathan Greenblatt.
Bannon is “hostile to core American values,” Greenblatt tweeted.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) November 14, 2016
California Representative Adam Schiff called Bannon’s appointment “unsurprising but alarming.”
“His alt-right, anti-Semitic and misogynistic views don’t belong in in the White House,” he wrote.
Selection of Steve Bannon for senior WH role unsurprising but alarming. His alt-right, anti-Semitic & misogynistic views don’t belong in WH
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) November 13, 2016
Democrats were not the only ones to speak out. A top strategist for Ohio Governor John Kasich warned that the “racist, fascist extreme right” is now “footsteps from the Oval Office.”
The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant America.
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) November 13, 2016
Trump’s victory was widely celebrated by the alt-right, which sees Trump as a champion for their beliefs, and by white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK plans to hold a rally in North Carolina in Trump’s honor.
David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the KKK, said his group deserved credit for helping to elect Trump.
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) November 9, 2016
Reid’s spokesman suggested that Trump’s appointment of Bannon was a message of solidarity to white supremacists.
“It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion when Trump appoints one of the foremost peddlers of white supremacist themes and rhetoric as his top aide,” he said.
Bannon faced charges of anti-Semitism from his ex-wife Mary Louise Piccard, who testified in 2007 that Bannon had not wanted their daughters to attend a private school in Los Angeles because he objected to their Jewish classmates.
“He said he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’,” said Piccard in court.
Concurrent with his announcement of Bannon’s position in his new administration, Trump also announced that Reince Priebus would serve as his Chief of Staff. Priebus, a conservative and traditional choice representing the GOP establishment, will work as an “equal partner” with Bannon, Trump said.