Neo-Nazi Alt-Right Gains Power with Bannon’s Rise

Rowan Bassman, Contributing Writer

President Donald Trump’s towering ego is built on a foundation of constant encouragement from others. It demands that he silence dissent and surround himself with loyalists. No one understands this more intimately than his Chief Strategist, Senior Counselor and National Security Council appointee Steve Bannon, to whom most major media outlets report Trump now listens more closely than anyone.

Given Trump’s obsession with praise, it makes sense that this would be the case. As the former executive chair of Breitbart News, Bannon cultivated one of the few media environments hospitable to Trump’s most controversial campaign rhetoric. In Trump’s eyes, who better to entrust with power than a man who rallies his most adoring fans?

Here’s a quick rundown of just how bad this is.

Bannon boasts that, under his leadership, Breitbart became “the platform for the alt-right.” Though members of the alt-right insist they aren’t neo-Nazis, they openly advocate for a fascist, white nationalist agenda. Alt-right founder Richard Spencer made news twice recently: once on Nov. 19, when he gave a racist and anti-Semitic speech in Washington, D.C., which ended with a Nazi salute and cries of “Hail Trump”; and more recently on Jan. 20 when a video circulated of Spencer being punched in the face by an unidentified masked protester. Colin Liddell, who co-founded the webzine Alternative Right in 2010 with Spencer, used that site to advocate for “black genocide.” I think it’s safe to call the alt-right, or at least its leaders, neo-Nazis.

This is the movement that Bannon is proud to sponsor on Breitbart. The President’s closest advisor is a man whose chief accomplishment is the creation of a breeding ground for violent white nationalists.

As chief strategist, Bannon has already helped to design and push through several of Trump’s executive orders, including the Jan. 27 entry ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Now Bannon has been promoted to the National Security Council, which oversees matters of war and foreign policy. Among other tasks, the NSC pens the U.S. government’s “kill list”, which authorizes the assassination of anyone deemed a “terrorist” — including American citizens.

This means Steve Bannon has a voice in deciding who among us is a “terrorist,” subject to execution without a trial.

Snopes, however, reports a growing controversy among analysts and legal experts over whether Bannon’s appointment to the NSC will require Senate confirmation, since Bannon is a civilian.

Regardless of whether this Senate hearing actually happens, Bannon’s history is out in the open. Besides his proud alt-right ties, this history includes favorable self-comparison to Darth Vader, Satan and former Vice President Dick Cheney. Resistance to Bannon’s rise to power should serve as a litmus test for which, if any, Republicans are willing to dissent from Trump’s most fascist moves. If any semblance of checks and balances remains, it will be proven by whether conservative leaders oppose giving this unqualified white supremacist license to authorize the assassinations.

I have often heard a warning in liberal and leftist circles that “Hitler was elected!” That’s not entirely true. Adolf Hitler didn’t win Germany’s 1932 presidential election, but was appointed chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg in an act of coalition building between the National Conservative Party and the Nazi Party. Hitler then quickly moved to consolidate power through a series of deceptions and the Reichstag’s passage of an Enabling Act, which granted Hitler “temporary” executive powers that he never relinquished.

Trump’s detractors have often compared his political trajectory to Hitler’s. Despite Trump’s fascist tendencies, many of these comparisons strike me as too easy. I also hesitate to compare anything at all to Hitler, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust out of respect for the singularity of those horrors. But the creation of the role of chief strategist for Bannon surely seems like an extension of good faith from Trump’s Republican Party to the so-called “alt-right.” Media outlets from across the political spectrum have noted Bannon’s influence on xenophobic executive orders such as the Muslim ban and the border wall. He has suddenly overshadowed all other advisors in President Trump’s esteem, to the point that on Jan. 30 The New York Times Editorial Board wrote that “Bannon is positioning himself … as the de facto president.” If the Senate does vote to approve Bannon’s appointment to the NSC, it will validate his powerful influence over the Trump administration — akin to an Enabling Act.

It is not an overstatement to say that our government is being run by a neo-Nazi propagandist.

Here are some suggestions for opposing Steve Bannon and his agenda. First, call the alt-right what they are: neo-Nazis. Demand that the Senate vote on Bannon’s Security Council appointment and that even the most conservative of representatives denounce him. Move forward with efforts to impeach President Trump. Continue “deep canvassing” work and other methods of reaching out to disillusioned Trump voters who are beginning to realize that they were conned by the Trump campaign; pierce the disinformation of Fox News and Breitbart. And most of all, organize our communities to resist policies of racial terror at every turn. Look after one another. Swastikas have already been sprayed in our town, and we must keep each other safe.