President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Breitbart Chairman SteveBannon as his chief strategist has caused significant backlash and sparked a call for Trump to rescind his decision.
Bannon is known for heading the “alt-right” news site Breitbart, a position he plans to leave as he transitions into his role in the White House. And on Sunday, The New York Times also reported that, according to Julia Jones, a former colleague, “Mr. Bannon occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners.”
“I said, ‘That would exclude a lot of African-Americans,'” Ms. Jones recalled. “He said, ‘Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.’ I said, ‘But what about Wendy'” referring to Mr. Bannon’s executive assistant. “He said, ‘She’s different. She’s family.'”
Some of Breitbart’s headlines under Bannon’s leadership include “Planned Parenthood’s Body Count Under Cecile Richards Is Up To Half A Holocaust” and “Sympathy For The Devils: The Plot Against Roger Ailes And America.”
A letter to Congress to “take all possible measures” to make Trump dump Bannon has over 15,000 signatures from lawyers across the country. The letter reads, in part:
“Mr. Bannon has demonstrated his opposition to the stable, democratic form of government that our profession embraces and strives to maintain. His words could not be more clear: ‘Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.’ This contempt for our longstanding governmental institutions has no place in a crucial leadership position.”
Nancy Leong, an associate professor at the University of Denver law school, coauthored the letter. In an email to The Huffington Post she said that signers of the letter hold a variety of views and do not all identify as liberal.
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“Many of the signatories to the letter self-identify as conservative or libertarian,” she wrote. “Opposing the appointment of someone who has enabled white nationalism and other hate-based ideologies is not a partisan issue.”
“It is not relevant whether Bannon himself is a white supremacist, an anti-Semite, etc.,” Leong said. “He has shown himself willing to profit personally from a website that encourage those ideologies (he himself has called Breitbart ‘the platform for the alt-right’). That’s more than enough to demonstrate that he shouldn’t hold a key position in the White House.”
Meanwhile, the presidents of the “Seven Sisters” colleges (Vassar, Mt. Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, Smith, Barnard, Radcliffe, Wellesley) released a joint letter urging Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon to “take a more expansive, informed and tolerant world view,” saying he has “disparaged lesbians, feminists and alumnae” and his comments “reflect[ed] other forms of bias, including racism, anti-Semitism and more.”
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In a 2011 Political Vindication Radio interview Bannon referred to the Seven Sisters when he addressed “some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement”:
“That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England. That drives the left insane and that’s why they hate these women.”
And nearly 700 women from Harvard Business School, Bannon’s alma mater, signed an open letter that was published in The New York Times, “650 Harvard Business School Women Assail Stephen Bannon.”
Signers describe themselves as female graduates and current students of the school. The women represent various religions, ethnicities and political parties.
The letter reads, in part:
“While we do not always agree on politics, we can agree on this: We unequivocally disavow the appointment of our fellow Harvard Business School alumnus, Steve Bannon, as chief strategist and senior counselor to President-elect Donald Trump.
“Mr. Bannon has been described as one of the chief architects of the alt-right movement, a movement that preaches white nationalism, racism, misogyny and hatred. He has repeatedly put forth hateful rhetoric against women, including a radio interview in which he referred to progressive, educated women as ‘a bunch of dykes.’ Until recently, Mr. Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart, a media company founded in 2007 to challenge the ‘liberal media’ bias.”
The letter specifically cites some of Breitbart’s previous headlines, including “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer” and “REVEALED: Sheryl Sandberg’s Wacky 1991 Feminist Thesis.” Other previous Breitbart headlines against women have included “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women In Tech, They Just Suck At Interviews,” “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive And Crazy” and “The Solution To Online ‘Harassment’ Is Simple: Women Should Log Off.”
Last week 169 House Democrats signed a letter addressed to Trump, in which they “strongly urge” the president-elect “to reconsider your decision to appoint Mr. Bannon to White House Chief Strategist.” The letter specifically cites the spike in hate incidents following Election Day:
“Since the election there have been a number of incidents across the country in which minorities, including Muslim Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Jewish Americans, have been the targets of violence, harassment and intimidation. Mr. Bannon’s appointment sends the wrong message to people who have engaged in those types of activities, indicating that they will not only be tolerated, but endorsed by your Administration. Millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump Administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns.”
The letter also highlights some of Breitbart’s content that Bannon oversaw.
“Under Mr. Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has referred to a leading Republican who opposed your election as a ‘Renegade Jew,’ suggested ‘Young Muslims in the West are a ticking time bomb,’ declared that the ‘Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage,’ and praised the alt-right as a ‘smarter’ version of ‘old-school racist skinheads,'” the letter states.
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, who circulated the letter, said in a statement, “Bigotry, anti-Semitism and xenophobia should have no place in our society, and they certainly have no place in the White House.”