Natasha Lennard reports: According to reports in mainstream news outlets like CNN, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, Saturday saw pro-Trump demonstrators clash with anti-Trump protesters in Berkeley, California, while more placid “Tax Day” marches took place around the country calling on the president to release his tax returns. The news stories offer largely the same account and framing as that given by the LA Times: “hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed Saturday at a ‘Patriots Day’ rally… Both groups threw rocks and sticks at each other and used a large trash bin as a battering ram… Twenty-one people were arrested… Eleven people were injured.”
All of this did happen. But such accounts missed the most crucial aspects of what was at stake in the Berkeley clashes, and thus fail to explain why there were aggressive altercations at all. To frame Saturday’s events as a fight between supporters of the president and his denouncers roundly misses the key tensions undergirding the confrontation: that of anti-fascists versus white nationalists.
— Mack Shelle (@MackShelle) April 16, 2017
This is not to say that each or even the majority, of the hundreds of pro-Trump attendees sympathize with the Venn Diagram of white supremacist, alt-right, anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi groups which intersect with the president’s broader support base. But as firsthand testimonies, numerous images and videos shared on social media can attest, explicitly racist groups and individuals were present in force, some having traveled from out of state to attend. Equally, the masked, black clad anti-fascist protesters did not amass in Berkeley to confront a gathering of people who just happened to vote for Trump. Their presence followed calls to action, which had named the specific far right and neo-Nazi alliances that were planning to attend, and indeed helped organize, the “Patriots Day” rally. The violence from both the far left and far right rested on a fulcrum that, while emphasized in the Trump era, far predates his presidency; anti-fascists have long met white supremacists with force in the streets. [Continue reading…]
The New York Times reports: Head bowed in reverence, Robert Svec gently placed a bouquet of blood-red flowers at the foot of the only known statue of Jozef Tiso, Slovakia’s wartime fascist leader, in a weedy monument park known as the Pantheon of Slovak Historical Figures.
For years, Mr. Svec’s neo-fascist cultural organization, the Slovak Revival Movement, was a tiny fringe group. But now his crowds are growing, as 200 people recently gathered with him to celebrate the country’s fascist past and call fascist-era greetings — “Na Straz!” or “On the guard!” Mr. Svec is so emboldened that he is transforming his movement into a political party, with plans to run for Parliament.
“You are ours, and we will forever be yours,” Mr. Svec said at the foot of the statue, having declared this as the Year of Jozef Tiso, dedicated to rehabilitating the image of the former priest and Nazi collaborator, who was hanged as a war criminal in 1947.
Once in the shadows, Europe’s neo-fascists are stepping back out, more than three-quarters of a century after Nazi boots stormed through Central Europe, and two decades since a neo-Nazi resurgence of skinheads and white supremacists unsettled the transition to democracy. In Slovakia, neo-fascists are winning regional offices and taking seats in the multiparty Parliament they hope to replace with strongman rule. [Continue reading…]
The Washington Post reports: In a half-lit basement on a side street in St. Petersburg, 18 men holding reproduction Makarov pistols were fumbling through an exercise, racking the slides, taking aim and firing. Click, click, click, click, click. Repeat.
Denis Gariev, the instructor, called out to pause the training.
He was not about to air his political views, an ethnic nationalism so raw that he is far to the right of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He was about to rail against a society that had gone soft.
“Nowadays everyone tells the boys starting in kindergarten, ‘Don’t act so aggressive, be smarter,’ ” he said in a mocking baby voice. “And we turn into these unaggressive vegetables.”
Gariev aims to restore the aggression.
“By and large, we are learning how to kill,” he told his charges, who had come to the “Reserve” military-patriotic club for a one-week paramilitary course called “Partisan.”
“We hope that it will never happen to us and we’ll never harm a living creature. But if we have to, then we should be ready.”
The “cadets” listening to Gariev were largely white-collar and self-employed workers from cities across Russia, men motivated less by an ideology than by the siege mentality that has surged here since the wars in Ukraine and Syria and a conviction that the modern Russian man should be combat-ready. [Continue reading…]
The Guardian reports: Donald Trump will disappoint and disillusion his far-right supporters by eschewing white supremacy, according to some of the movement’s own intellectual leaders.
Activists who recently gave Nazi salutes and shouted “hail Trump” at a gathering in Washington will revolt when the new US president fails to meet their expectations, the leaders told the Guardian.
The prospect of such disillusion and internecine squabbling may console liberals who fear a White House tinged with racism and quasi-fascism. All the more reassuring because it comes from far-right influencers and analysts, not wishful progressives.
Instead of enjoying proximity to power, according to this analysis, vocal parts of the loose coalition known as the “alt-right” could remain on the political fringe, wondering what happened to their triumph.
“Their hearts are bigger than their brains,” said Mark Weber, who runs the Institute for Historical Review, an organisation dedicated to exposing “Jewish-Zionist” power. “Saying they want to be the intellectual head of the Trump presidency is delusional.”
Jared Taylor, a white supremacist who runs the self-termed “race-realist” magazine American Renaissance, said the president-elect had already backpedalled on several pledges that had fired up the far-right. “At first he promised to send back every illegal immigrant. Now he is waffling on that.”
David Cole, a self-proclaimed Holocaust revisionist and Taki magazine columnist, envisaged the movement sliding into bickering and in-fighting, stuck in “rabbit warrens” of online trolling rather than policy shaping.
“In January Trump will start governing and will have to make compromises. Even small ones will trigger squabbles between the ‘alt-right’. ‘Trump betrayed us.’ ‘No, you’re betraying us for saying Trump betrayed us.’ And so on. The alt-right’s appearance of influence will diminish more and more as they start to fight amongst themselves.”
In an email interview Peter Brimelow, founder of the webzine Vdare.com, which alleges Mexican plots to remake the US, said Trump’s failure to deliver “important bones” could trigger a backlash. “I think the right of the right is absolutely prepared to revolt. It’s what they do.”
There is, however, a catch: Weber, Taylor and Brimelow – all classified as “extremists” by the Southern Poverty Law Center – said Trump’s victory energised the far-right and that the movement can grow with or without White House help. [Continue reading…]
How to report on a fascist?
How to cover the rise of a political leader who’s left a paper trail of anti-constitutionalism, racism and the encouragement of violence? Does the press take the position that its subject acts outside the norms of society? Or does it take the position that someone who wins a fair election is by definition “normal,” because his leadership reflects the will of the people?
These are the questions that confronted the U.S. press after the ascendance of fascist leaders in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.
A leader for life
Benito Mussolini secured Italy’s premiership by marching on Rome with 30,000 blackshirts in 1922. By 1925 he had declared himself leader for life. While this hardly reflected American values, Mussolini was a darling of the American press, appearing in at least 150 articles from 1925-1932, most neutral, bemused or positive in tone.
The Saturday Evening Post even serialized Il Duce’s autobiography in 1928. Acknowledging that the new “Fascisti movement” was a bit “rough in its methods,” papers ranging from the New York Tribune to the Cleveland Plain Dealer to the Chicago Tribune credited it with saving Italy from the far left and revitalizing its economy. From their perspective, the post-WWI surge of anti-capitalism in Europe was a vastly worse threat than Fascism.
The New York Times reports: A small but determined political organization in Detroit began to worry that its official symbol was a bit off-putting. With the group’s central philosophy suddenly finding traction in the daily discourse, appearances mattered.
So in November, as the country’s divisive presidential campaign became ever more jagged, the National Socialist Movement, a leading neo-Nazi group, did away with its swastika. In its stead, the group chose a symbol from a pre-Roman alphabet that was also adopted by the Nazis.
According to Jeff Schoep, the movement’s leader, the decision to dispense with the swastika was “an attempt to become more integrated and more mainstream.”
Let us pause. Not even two years ago, white supremacists like Mr. Schoep would rant from the fringe of the fringe, their attention-desperate events rarely worth mention. Today, though, the Schoeps of America are undergoing a rebranding, as part of the so-called alt-right: a grab bag of far-right groups generally united by the belief that white identity has become endangered in what they deride as this era of dangerous diversity and political correctness.
The deceptively benign phrase “alt-right” now peppers the national conversation, often in ways that play down its fundamental beliefs, which have long been considered intolerant and hateful. The term’s recent prevalence corresponds with the rise of President-elect Donald J. Trump; alt-right leaders say his inflammatory statements and Twitter habits in the campaign energized, even validated, their movement.
The movement is also acutely image-conscious, seeing the burning crosses, swastikas and language of yesteryear as impediments to recruitment. Its adherents talk of “getting red-pilled,” a reference to the movie “The Matrix,” in which the protagonist ingests a tablet that melts away artifice to reveal the truth. New, coded slurs have emerged. Fewer pointed hoods, more khaki pants.
But the alt-right movement is hardly monolithic, despite a well-publicized gathering last month in Washington — one that might have been mistaken for just another corporate conference were it not for the white-nationalist sentiments and the Nazi salutes. The factions within its ranks can differ on any number of subjects: white supremacy versus white nationalism, for example, or the vexing “J.Q.” — the “Jewish Question.”
James Edwards, a far-right talk radio host who describes himself as a “European-American advocate” — and who interviewed the president-elect’s son Donald Trump Jr. this year — wrote in an email that the alt-right movement was “a group of marauding conservatives who reject both the failures of establishment conservatism and the false gods of political correctness.”
Race is the uniting factor, Mr. Edwards wrote. “One fundamental element of the Alt-Right that brings the disparate factions together is the awareness of the reality of race and the need for European Americans to have organizations and spokespeople that explicitly advocate for our unique group interests.” [Continue reading…]
BuzzFeed reports: On Saturday evening, Twitter reinstated — with verification — the account of Richard Spencer, a leading figure of the so-called alt-right movement, and the head of the white nationalist think tank, The National Policy Institute.
Spencer’s account was suspended mid-November as part of a larger cull of prominent alt-right accounts, including Ricky Vaughn (who was previously banned after a BuzzFeed News story detailing his campaign to disenfranchise voters with false information), former Business Insider CTO Pax Dickenson, and John Rivers. Twitter did provide a reason for the move at the time it was undertaken, leading many to conclude the accounts were suspended for violations of the company’s prohibitions on targeted harassment, incitement, and hate speech.
However, according to Twitter, Spencer was banned on a technicality: creating multiple accounts with overlapping uses. [Continue reading…]
The New York Times reports: As the founder of the Traditionalist Worker Party, an American group that aims to preserve the privileged place of whiteness in Western civilization and fight “anti-Christian degeneracy,” Matthew Heimbach knows whom he envisions as the ideal ruler: the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.
“Russia is our biggest inspiration,” Mr. Heimbach said. “I see President Putin as the leader of the free world.”
Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump mystified many on the left and in the foreign policy establishment with his praise for Mr. Putin and his criticism of the Obama administration’s efforts to isolate and punish Russia for its actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. But what seemed inexplicable when Mr. Trump first expressed his admiration for the Russian leader seems, in retrospect, to have been a shrewd dog whistle to a small but highly motivated part of his base.
For Mr. Heimbach is far from alone in his esteem for Mr. Putin. Throughout the collection of white ethnocentrists, nationalists, populists and neo-Nazis that has taken root on both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. Putin is widely revered as a kind of white knight: a symbol of strength, racial purity and traditional Christian values in a world under threat from Islam, immigrants and rootless cosmopolitan elites. [Continue reading…]
Reuters reports: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is a clever man and will quickly understand his new responsibilities, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with NTV TV.
Putin has spoken previously of his hope that Trump will help restore U.S.-Russia relations, and analysts said he was unlikely to want to dial up anti-Western rhetoric before Trump’s inauguration in January.
“Trump was an entrepreneur and a businessman. He is already a statesman, he is the head of the United States of America, one of the world’s leading countries,” NTV quoted Putin as saying in the interview on www.ntv.ru on Sunday.
“Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man. And if (he is) a clever man, then he will fully and quite quickly understand another level of responsibility. We assume that he will be acting from these positions,” Putin said. [Continue reading…]
The Economist reports: In December 2010 Egypt’s cabinet discussed the findings of their National Youth Survey. Only 16% of 18-29-year-olds voted in elections, it showed; just 2% registered for volunteer work. An apathetic generation, concluded the ministers, who returned to twiddling their thumbs. Weeks later, Egypt’s youth spilled onto the streets and toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
The UN’s latest Arab Development Report, published on November 29th, shows that few lessons have been learnt. Five years on from the revolts that toppled four Arab leaders, regimes are ruthlessly tough on dissent, but much less attentive to its causes.
As states fail, youth identify more with their religion, sect or tribe than their country. In 2002, five Arab states were mired in conflict. Today 11 are. By 2020, predicts the report, almost three out of four Arabs could be “living in countries vulnerable to conflict”.
Horrifyingly, although home to only 5% of the world’s population, in 2014 the Arab world accounted for 45% of the world’s terrorism, 68% of its battle-related deaths, 47% of its internally displaced and 58% of its refugees. War not only kills and maims, but destroys vital infrastructure accelerating the disintegration.
The Arab youth population (aged 15-29) numbers 105m and is growing fast, but unemployment, poverty and marginalisation are all growing faster. The youth unemployment rate, at 30%, stands at more than twice the world’s average of 14%. Almost half of young Arab women looking for jobs fail to find them (against a global average of 16%).
Yet governance remains firmly the domain of an often hereditary elite. “Young people are gripped by an inherent sense of discrimination and exclusion,” says the report, highlighting a “weakening [of] their commitment to preserving government institutions.” Many of those in charge do little more than pay lip-service, lumping youth issues in with toothless ministries for sports. “We’re in a much worse shape than before the Arab Spring,” says Ahmed al-Hendawi, a 32-year-old Jordanian and the UN’s envoy for youth. [Continue reading…]
Financial Times reports: When plain-clothes police officers came to Istvan Gyorkos’s house early one morning in late October in search of illegal guns, the increasingly paranoid 76-year-old neo-Nazi barricaded himself in.
A bloody shootout ensued and a police officer was shot dead. Mr Gyorkos has been taken into custody and faces possible charges.
With previous arrests and convictions for gun violations and hate crimes, the moustachioed founder of Hungary’s neo-Nazi National Front movement (MNA) was often pictured in military uniform. He was known nationally for his fascist political views and, in his home town of Bony, the MNA staged regular paramilitary drills in the muddy hills behind his house and even invited townspeople to watch.
What was less well known was the far-right militia’s multiple ties to Russian secret services. “We don’t believe this attack was a plot orchestrated by the Russian government,” said Peter Kreko, director of Political Capital, a Budapest think-tank. “But there are strong suspicions Mr Gyorkos was supported by Moscow.”
In the wake of the October shootout, the police last week raided nine properties, uncovering MNA weapons stockpiles far larger and more sophisticated than expected, although their provenance is unknown.
While Russian support for far-right groups in Europe has been widely rumoured, the recent events in Hungary have brought to light new evidence of Moscow’s long-running attempts to cultivate far-right extremists. [Continue reading…]
The Guardian reports: After years of austerity, and at a time of rising concern about immigration and uncertainty about the future direction of the UK, the political and economic conditions appear to be ideal for the far right. Across Europe – particularly in France, Denmark and the Netherlands – it is animated and resurgent, scenting electoral success just over the horizon.
In the UK, however, the extreme right is fractured, leaderless, confused and dispirited. It is also highly unpredictable and, on occasion, violent. Rather than one party or group – such as the British National party (BNP) or the English Defence League (EDL) – dominating the stage, a couple of dozen smaller groups vie for attention.
Some continue to contest local elections, but the growing popularity of Ukip in recent years has presented former supporters of the BNP and other far-right parties with an opportunity to vote for an anti-immigration party that is not considered disreputable.
Other groups favour so-called direct action, such as picketing mosques, invading halal abattoirs and harassing staff at Muslim-owned restaurants. Others still prefer to stage rallies and marches, bringing them into conflict with anti-fascist campaigners and, frequently, the police.
Each confrontation ensures that future events attract more people seeking violence. A handful of groups have started organising martial arts training and survivalist boot camps, and recent months have seen an increase in hate crimes. There has, in the words of the Met police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, been a “horrible spike” in such crime.
In many respects, racial nationalism in Britain in 2016 resembles that of the late 1990s, before the BNP was reorganised by its then leader, Nick Griffin. After taking control of the party in 1999, Griffin rid it of what he called “the three Hs: hobbyism, hard talk and Hitler”. Members focused more on a new enemy – Muslims and Islam. Activists swapped their boots for suits, grew their hair a little and began winning council elections. In 2009 the party won two European parliament seats.
Now the far right is back where it was almost 20 years ago, a series of micro-groups struggling to be seen and heard. Many of these groups have members in West Yorkshire, where Jo Cox’s killer, Thomas Mair, lived, although it appears he was not a member of any of them.
Paul Meszaros, the county’s coordinator for the anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate, says: “The far-right scene in West Yorkshire is no different to the rest of the country at the moment, which is unusual, because it used to be the BNP’s capital.”
Many veterans of the right are unsurprised by the waning of their fortunes, saying success has always been cyclical. At some point in the future, they predict, they will again be something of an electoral force.
Jim Lewthwaite, a former member of the National Front and a former BNP councillor in Bradford, says: “We’re going back to the same cyclical position as we were before 2001. The right is totally fragmented and on its back, waiting for something to happen.
“But remember how fast it went when it did take off? If things did happen, if Ukip were to fold, or if significant fragments of Ukip were to say we want a tougher line, and there were somebody leading it in our direction, or someone on our side that they trusted … we wouldn’t have to rebuild the organisation a second time.
“There are experienced people out there who are simply taking a back seat. They haven’t ceased to be nationalists, they don’t need to be reconvinced. They have concluded that nothing is happening right now, so there’s no point in doing anything. But if something caught on, and it started snowballing, they would get involved.”
The “things” that could happen, and which Lewthwaite and others believe could lead to the far right becoming an energised and coherent force in British politics, include, of course, serious Islamist terrorist attacks. [Continue reading…]
Mother Jones reports: Jeff Blehar had no idea he was about to become a conduit for a virulent political awakening. It was July 2015, and the conservative writer and outspoken critic of freshly minted presidential candidate Donald Trump was being pummeled on Twitter with a profane-sounding political dis: “cuckservative.” The term, which had recently begun appearing on fringe internet forums, was meant to denigrate mainstream Republicans as impotent traitors, in part by evoking a genre of porn that features white men watching their wives have sex with black men.
“I want to congratulate [the] guy who keeps calling me a ‘cuckservative’—you win, dude,” Blehar tweeted sarcastically. “You’re right, and I’m deleting my account out of shame.”
Conservative pundit and Trump critic Erick Erickson soon weighed in, tweeting that he had read about cuckservatism in the white nationalist Radix Journal. Now it was game on for the trolls. A user named “dindu refugee” called Erickson “a cuckservative if I’ve ever seen one.” Paul Kersey, creator of the racist blog Stuff That Black People Don’t Like, taunted Erickson about previously living in Macon, Georgia: “Now it’s a black hellhole which you won’t dare mention. #Cuckservative.”
Explainers soon appeared in The New Republic, BuzzFeed, and the Washington Post, ushering the insult into the broader political lexicon. National Review’s David French complained of being brutally trolled with “cuckservative” taunts for having adopted a child from Ethiopia. Glenn Beck lamented, “It is everywhere now.”
The attacks may have seemed like just a fleeting, perverse twist on RINO (“Republican in name only”), but in fact they were something far more ominous — the stirrings of a loosely knit extremist movement soon more widely known as the “alt-right.” Thanks to Trump’s demagogic campaign—throughout which he would circulate bigoted memes to his millions of Twitter followers — the alt-right now had an opportunity to inject racism, misogyny, and xenophobia into mainstream American politics. Provocative but obscure online rhetoric was quickly morphing into something more serious and powerful: the normalization of the politics of hate.
It never would have happened without Trump acting as troll in chief. Already admired by extremists for his ongoing birther crusade against President Barack Obama, Trump riveted their attention when he announced his White House run and vowed to build a border wall to keep out Mexican criminals and “rapists.” That soon earned him praise from a who’s who of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and militia supporters. [Continue reading…]
The Atlantic reports: “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”
That’s how Richard B. Spencer saluted more than 200 attendees on Saturday, gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., for the annual conference of the National Policy Institute, which describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”
Spencer has popularized the term “alt-right” to describe the movement he leads. Spencer has said his dream is “a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans,” and has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”
For most of the day, a parade of speakers discussed their ideology in relatively anodyne terms, putting a presentable face on their agenda. But after dinner, when most journalists had already departed, Spencer rose and delivered a speech to his followers dripping with anti-Semitism, and leaving no doubt as to what he actually seeks. He referred to the mainstream media as “Lügenpresse,” a term he said he was borrowing from “the original German”; the Nazis used the word to attack their critics in the press.
“America was until this past generation a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Spencer said. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
The audience offered cheers, applause, and enthusiastic Nazi salutes. [Continue reading…]
The Daily Mail reports: Neo-Nazi referrals to the government’s deradicalisation programme are overtaking Islamist extremism cases in parts of the UK.
Security minister Ben Wallace highlighted the increase in far-right radicalisation amid new figures showing almost 300 children were referred to officials.
The worrying statistics show 16 of the 300 flagged up for neo-Nazi links were under the age of 10.
Mr Wallace, Tory MP for Wyre and Preston North, told collegues in the Commons: ‘The Prevent strategy is seeing a growth in far-right referrals.
‘In some areas of the country, these Prevent referrals outnumber those about the other parts we are worried out.’
Parts of Wales are reporting figures of above 50 percent for far-right referrals to the Prevent strategy programme, senior fellow in extremism at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue Rashad Ali told The Times.
The landscape is similar in Leicestershire, according to the paper, who report far-right extremism makes up half of all cases. [Continue reading…]
CNN reports: White nationalist leaders are praising Donald Trump’s decision to name former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, telling CNN in interviews they view Bannon as an advocate in the White House for policies they favor.
The leaders of the white nationalist and so-called “alt-right” movement — all of whom vehemently oppose multiculturalism and share the belief in the supremacy of the white race and Western civilization — publicly backed Trump during his campaign for his hardline positions on Mexican immigration, Muslims, and refugee resettlement. Trump has at times disavowed their support. Bannon’s hiring, they say, is a signal that Trump will follow through on some of his more controversial policy positions.
“I think that’s excellent,” former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke told CNN’s KFile. “I think that anyone that helps complete the program and the policies that President-elect Trump has developed during the campaign is a very good thing, obviously. So it’s good to see that he’s sticking to the issues and the ideas that he proposed as a candidate. Now he’s president-elect and he’s sticking to it and he’s reaffirming those issues.” [Continue reading…]
The Hill reports: Conservative commentator Glenn Beck called President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for a top adviser a “nightmare” who has ties to the white nationalist movement.
“You know, if people really want to in the press would like to call Donald Trump a racist, you might want to stop on that one and spend a little time on [Steve] Bannon,” Beck said on his radio broadcast Monday.
“Bannon has a clear tie to white nationalists — clear tie,” Beck added of the former Breitbart News executive and Trump campaign CEO. “He’s built Breitbart as a platform for the alt-right.
“He’s on record saying that. He’s on record defining the alt-right. He knows what it is. He’s a guy that wants to tear this system down and wants to replace it with a new system.”
Beck said Bannon’s role in Trump’s future administration should inspire fear about the pair’s intentions for America.
“He’s a nightmare,” Beck said of Bannon. “And he’s the chief adviser to the president of the United States now.
“He is a frightening — no, no, no, he is a terrifying man, terrifying man. … It speaks volumes.” [Continue reading…]
In an editorial, the New York Times says: Anyone holding out hope that Donald Trump would govern as a uniter — that the racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and nativism of his campaign were just poses to pick up votes — should think again.
In an ominous sign of what the Trump presidency will actually look like, the president-elect on Sunday appointed Stephen Bannon as his chief White House strategist and senior counselor, an enormously influential post.
Many if not most Americans had never heard of Mr. Bannon before this weekend, and for good reason: He has kept a low profile, even after taking over Mr. Trump’s campaign in August. Before that, he worked as the executive chairman of the Breitbart News Network, parent company of the far-right website Breitbart News, which under Mr. Bannon became what the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a “white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.”
Mr. Bannon himself seems fine with that description, telling Mother Jones last summer that Breitbart was now “the platform for the alt-right,” a loosely organized group of mostly young men who believe in white supremacy; oppose immigration, feminism and multiculturalism; and delight in harassing Jews, Muslims and other vulnerable groups by spewing shocking insults on social media.
To scroll through Breitbart headlines is to come upon a parallel universe where black people do nothing but commit crimes, immigrants rape native-born daughters, and feminists want to castrate all men. Here’s a sample:
“Hoist It High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage” (This headline ran two weeks after a white supremacist massacred nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C.)
If you don’t find the headlines alarming, check the reader comments. Or take a look at who’s rejoicing over Mr. Bannon’s selection. The white nationalist Richard Spencer said on Twitter that Mr. Bannon was in “the best possible position” to influence policy, since he would “not get lost in the weeds” of establishment Washington. The chairman of the American Nazi Party said the pick showed that Mr. Trump might be “for ‘real.’” David Duke, former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, called the choice “excellent” and said Mr. Bannon was “basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going.”
Mr. Bannon is in some ways a perplexing figure: a far-right ideologue who made his millions investing in “Seinfeld”; a former Goldman Sachs banker who has reportedly called himself a “Leninist” with a goal “to destroy the state” and “bring everything crashing down.” He has also called progressive women “a bunch of dykes” and, in a 2014 email to one of his editors, wrote of the Republican leadership, “Let the grassroots turn on the hate because that’s the ONLY thing that will make them do their duty.”
A few conservatives have spoken out against Mr. Bannon. Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart News editor who resigned in protest last spring, said Mr. Bannon was a “vindictive, nasty figure.” Glenn Beck called him a “nightmare” and a “terrifying man.”
But most Republican officeholders have so far remained silent. Some have dismissed fears about Mr. Bannon. Other Republicans have praised him, like Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, whom Mr. Trump announced as his chief of staff on Sunday, and who said Mr. Bannon could not be such a bad guy because he served in the Navy and went to Harvard Business School. Some saw the pick of Mr. Priebus as evidence that Mr. Trump would not be leaning so much on Mr. Bannon. But don’t be fooled by Mr. Priebus’s elevated title; in the press release announcing both hires, Mr. Bannon’s name appeared above Mr. Priebus’s. In a little more than two months Mr. Bannon, and his toxic ideology, will be sitting down the hall from the Oval Office.