I have a good friend that is an intelligent, educated man. He came here as an immigrant under political asylum over 30 years ago and has become an American citizen during that time. He was a strong Republican, even going so far as to be involved with the party during the 90’s. He’s remained a Republican in affiliation, but has voted outside the party a number of times, including twice for Barack Obama. Toward the second half of the Obama presidency, the blinders came off and he became very disillusioned. He was looking forward to the next election, especially because he always had a disgust toward Hillary Clinton and her profiteering. So, here was a guy that was ready to get behind any Republican candidate and push HRC off a cliff into oblivion – and what does he do? He votes for her. Why? Because he disliked Trump that much more. Now, it seems like all of his darkest fears are coming to light – what with the media labeling everything the new administration does as either xenophobic, racist, islamophobic, misogynistic, etc. And who does he think is really to blame for all of this? Not Donald Trump. Nope, he blames Steve Bannon….huh? I thought this was all addressed during the campaign, when all of the allegations were made against Bannon and nothing ever seemed to be proven. Lot’s of hush-hush rumors and innuendo. Lot’s of he-said, she-said. Nothing concretely defined. I guess you’d say there was a “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” kind of campaign against him. So I thought I’d do some research, and what I discovered is profound, not in what it demonstrates about Steve Bannon, but how we are allowing organized groups to frame and dictate not only the debate in general, but the meaning of the words we use in the debate.
So, most of the stories you’ll dig up about Steve Bannon fall into one of two categories: 1) What other people claim he said to them when no-one else was around and 2) Things that were published on the Breitbart News web site during his tenure as Editor. As for the first category, it’s commonly referred to as ‘hearsay’ in a court of law and as such it’s not admissible. I’m going to stick with that convention here, because I can neither prove nor disprove it, so it’s not relevant to this discussion. The second category is interesting, but still not definitive. If I were, for example, Editor-In-Chief of the Weekly World Standard, I’m going to allow a fair number of articles to be published that I don’t agree with on any level, but that my readers lap up. That’s the name of the game. So can you really judge me based on that? Doubtful.
There is a third category, and this is most certainly relevant: 3) Things Steve Bannon has said in public, on the record. Of these nuggets, there are a few that are most often quoted. I’ll point you to the source article in the New York Times from November of last year so you can read it yourself: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/15/us/politics/stephen-bannon-breitbart-words.html?_r=0
I read all of the quotes, and while I may disagree with one or two of them in sentiment or tone or in word choice, none of them are racist, misogynistic, xenophobic or islamophobic. But, you wouldn’t know that in reading the NYT piece or elsewhere on the Internet. Why? Because the words that he uses are then ‘interpreted’ by those on the Left to ‘really’ mean different things. Let me provide an example. In the NYT’s article, Bannon is quoted as saying ““We don’t believe there is a functional conservative party in this country, and we certainly don’t think the Republican Party is that,” he told the same gathering. “It’s going to be an insurgent, center-right populist movement that is virulently anti-establishment, and it’s going to continue to hammer this city, both the progressive left and the institutional Republican Party.” Since when did being “virulently anti-establishment’ mean being something bad to anyone outside the establishment? It doesn’t, but those that are threatened by such sentiments are trying a new trick, which is really just a variation on Identity Politics. Let’s say, for example, that you say you’re in favor of “Law and Order”. Or you say “ALL Lives Matter”. Or “Blue Lives Matter”. According to some on the Left, what you are really saying is “I support the current policing environment which is inherently discriminatory to people of color”. So, let’s again assume that you had given an interview and you used one of the aforementioned phrases – perhaps “ALL Lives Matter”. The headline in the Huffington Post would read: “Speaker Stands Up For Racist Policing” or “Speaker Defends Discriminatory Policing”. To them, they’ve run your statement through a filter and come up with a new meaning – one you probably didn’t even know existed. Oh, and by the way, the fact that you didn’t know it existed is NOT an excuse, it is in fact PROOF that you are unable or unwilling to see the light and confront your own racism/xenophobia/misogyny, etc. Wow. Reminds me of the Salem Witch Trials. If you drown, you’re not a Witch. Damn.
So, the question started out as “Is Steve Bannon a Racist?” The answer, at least as far as I can tell, is he may be. Or he may not be. Same as anyone else that I can’t prove one way or another. Back in the good-ole days, when you couldn’t prove something, you were considered innocent until such time as you could prove it. Now, the strategy on the Left is to smear enough people on the Right with the stink of suspicion that they’ll start to believe it themselves….”Hey! What’s that smell? It’s us! We must be racist/homophobic/misogynistic etc…”. The first step in this process, by the way, is a corrupt media. Check. The second step is high-profile Leftist Elites echoing that sentiment. Check. Next is ‘spontaneous’ outrage by persons claiming to be John Q. Public, en masse. Check.
Barnum and Bailey Circus just held it’s last event this past Sunday. However, you’d never know it by watching the news every night and seeing it in full force through protests and moral indignation that was apparently unnecessary on any issues 11 days ago.