What is presidential adviser Steve Bannon up to?

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This is an edited version of a blog by Heather Cox Richardson, Boston College History professor. It seems balanced yet highly concerning, and I wanted to share it widely:


“… What I think Bannon is up to might be right, it might be wrong, it might be completely moot because something else will overtake it. In a sense, [it] matters a great deal less than what Americans will do as they insist on a government that responds to all of us rather than to a wealthy elite. But … here it is:

“I got interested in Bannon last summer, when a reporter asked me to comment on a speech Bannon gave at the Vatican in 2014 … What jumped out at me was that Bannon was using the language of what I guess we would call a “civilizationist”: someone who believes that western civilization is currently engaged in a war of conquest against the Islamic world. …

“I found that Kellyanne Conway was involved in that movement, as was General Flynn. And suddenly it occurred to me … that every time Trump got called on something uncomfortable, he seemed to jump back to the idea that ISIS was beheading people, even if that had nothing to do with the question at hand. … Now it started to make sense. So did the Trump team’s coziness with Putin, whom they repeatedly praised for being the only leader willing to take a strong stand against ISIS. So did the emphasis on saying the words “radical Islam.” … This idea ties closely to some American evangelical religions (not all, by any means, but some).

“So I started reading Breitbart as it was under Bannon’s direction … The big picture that emerged was ideologically coherent. It seemed to me that Bannon believes we are involved in a war of civilizations, and that western civilization must win. But to do that, current society must be completely reconfigured. His version of “Judeo-Christian” society is a very traditional one, in which a few wealthy white male leaders run society, directing and protecting subordinates. … I recognized the ideas as very similar to those of slaveholders in the Old South: it is a system of paternalism that its advocates claim is best for everyone. Hence, under Bannon’s direction, Breitbart could run articles attacking politically active women and suggesting they should stay at home, and also attack African Americans, and yet insist that Bannon was neither sexist nor racist. In this formulation, a return to a traditional society will benefit everyone.

“[Recently,] people were protesting the Muslim travel ban and paying little attention to the events that spoke to my sense that Bannon is pushing a war with “Islam,” beginning in Iran. There was a shakeup in the State Department the previous week in which four career leaders were let go; Trump had just reorganized the National Security Council to elevate Bannon to the inner circle and had taken the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Energy (who oversees the use of nuclear weapons) out of that inner circle. Then we had the very visible attack on Muslims, which … seemed to make an attack on America more, rather than less, likely.

“To me, these added up to maneuvers designed to justify a war in Iran. Unfortunately, nothing I have seen since has made that idea seem far-fetched.

“But again, the future is not yet written. I think I’m right about what drives Bannon (what makes Trump go along with it is another matter, by the way). But he could accomplish the same thing by pivoting to another issue.

“Or the American people could continue to step up … and our institutions could check Trump’s hand, and the future could be written in an entirely different way.

“In the end, it is our story. No one else’s.”

— Heather Cox Richardson

(For a corroborating article see: “Steve Bannon’s obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome” Business Insider.com, by Linette Lopez, Feb. 2, 2017)

And this:

“Trump himself—no man of ideas, to say the least—is unsuited to the task of thinking through what his popularity means or how to build on it. Others will have to do the real work.”

“Muslims coming to America are “tribal, sub-Third-World foes.” … We must stop the “ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty.” … Immigrants are “typically guilty of rape, shooting, bombing or machete attack.”  — Michael Anton

Anton is “the leading conservative intellectual to argue for the election of Donald Trump,” and senior director of strategic communications at the National Security Council. This is virtually the only attempt by a Trump insider to present a holistic explanation of what his presidency stands for and seeks to accomplish. Anton was speechwriter and press secretary for NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and then speechwriter for Rupert Murdock, owner of News Corp and CEO of Fox News https://theintercept.com/…/dark-essays-by-white-house-staf…/


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