Yesterday, president-elect Donald Trump selected former Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff, which was considered a more conventional pick by Trump standards. But for his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor, Trump chose Steve Bannon, a former executive of the right wing website Breitbart and a hero among the alt-right. The selection of Bannon, who was once charged with domestic violence, has drawn serious backlash, with many people and organizations denouncing Bannon and his history of bigotry.
Back in August, Steve Bannon was named the chief executive of the Trump campaign. Bannon was controversial then, and especially so now that he'll have a prominent position in the White House.
A spokesperson for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told the Huffington Post that Trump's selection of Bannon "signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump's White House." He added, "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."
The 62-year-old has a history of anti-Semitism and has referred to women as "dykes."
Even many loyal Republicans are concerned. John Weaver, who advised Ohio Gov. John Kasich's 2016 presidential campaign, tweeted about the decision:
Bannon ran Breitbart, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as "a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill." Bannon himself told Mother Jones back in July that his website is "the platform for the alt-right," using the euphemistic name for the racist, anti-Semitic, fascist far-right movement. He has also suggested that African Americans "are naturally aggressive and violent."
The website, which has a "black crime" section, has published articles like "Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy," "Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage," "Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture," "Trannies Whine About Hilarious Bruce Jenner Billboard," "The Solution To Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off," "There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women In Tech, They Just Suck At Interviews," and "Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?" to name a few of the website's many inflammatory and bigoted articles.
While his website has published stories like "Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew," supporters like Newt Gingrich argue it isn't anti-Semitic because "he was a managing partner at Goldman Sachs, he was a Hollywood movie producer."
Priebus, the new Chief of Staff, has also defended Bannon against the attacks:
But the Anti-Defamation League's CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement, "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.'"
Similarly, the Council on American-Islamic Relations denounced Breitbart for spreading "misogynistic and racist stories targeting women, people of color and immigrants. CAIR’s executive director Nihad Awad said, "The appointment of Stephen Bannon as a top Trump administration strategist sends the disturbing message that anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and White nationalist ideology will be welcome in the White House."
The Southern Poverty Law Center is also strongly opposing Bannon, whom they say "has no business working in the White House."
In fact, even former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, who worked closely with Bannon, called him a "legitimately sinister figure," according to the Washington Post.
Sadly, not everyone is upset about Bannon's new role—white nationalists are thrilled.
Richard Spencer, president of the white-nationalist National Policy Institute, praised the decision on Twitter:
Ken Reed, the national director for the neo-Nazi group Aryan Renaissance Society, posted a story about Trump's selection of Bannon and commented, "Can you say WINNING boys and girls???" along with #WhiteLivesMatter and #AltRight, according to the SPLC.
Stormfront, the oldest racist hate site on the internet, was thrilled as well:
An article on the neo-Nazi website Infostormer called the decision "Pure awesomeness." The article continued, "Look for Bannon to wield great power and sway in this new Government of the People, and let us hope that his stances on the migrant invasion, Moslem filth, and Black subhuman crime rises above the beta compromise attitude of Mr. Priebus."
Unfortunately, it's still far from clear when, if ever, the wave of hatred following Donald Trump's election will end.