The appointment of Steve Bannon as Donald Trump’s “chief strategist and senior counselor.” has raised concerns and strong reactions due to controversial and anti-Semitic statements allegedly made by Bannon in the past as well as his presidency of the Breitbart news ,which espoused anti-Semitic and nationalist views.
Bannon, who is of Irish Catholic descent, graduated from Georgetown University with a master’s degree in national security studies and went to Harvard Business School hoping to land a Wall Street job.
The site faced regular criticism — including from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — for its close ties to the “alt right,” an online-based counterculture movement associated with white nationalism.
Piccard later claimed in 2007 that her husband made anti-Semitic comments when the two were discussing whether they should attend an elite Los Angeles high school called the Archer School for Girls.
‘He said he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be “whiney brats,”‘ Piccard said in a court filing.
Evan McMullin, who ran for the White House as an independent and won 21 percent of the vote in Utah tweeted in response to the appointment , tweeted “Will any national level elected GOP leaders condemn DonaldTrump’s appointment of anti-Semite Steve Bannon to senior White House role?” , while John Weaver, a top strategist for Ohio Governor and former Republican contender John Kasich wrote that “The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office. Be very vigilant America.”
CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said that Bannon’s appointment adds fuel to the fire of racial and ethnic hatred and division in America.
“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,” Awad added. “We urge President-elect Trump to reconsider this ill-advised appointment if he truly seeks to unite Americans.”
A spokesman for Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, Adam Jentleson, said that:
“President-elect Trump’s choice of Steve Bannon as his top aide signals that white supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House.
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 … Sworn testimony in a court case alleged that Bannon committed violent domestic abuse and stated that he ‘didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.'”
Jentleson was referring to testimony by Bannon’s former wife, Mary Louise Piccard. In a sworn court declaration following their divorce, Piccard said her ex-husband had objected to sending their twin daughters to an elite Los Angeles academy because he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”
“He said he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiney brats,’”
Jonathan Greenblatt, Director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote that:
“The ADL strongly opposes the appointment of Steve Bannon as senior advisor and chief strategist in the White House.
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.’ We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country’s people and who exemplify the values of pluralism and tolerance that make our country great.”
However other reactions by Bannon’s acquaintances were supportive of Bannon. Joel Pollak, who worked for Bannon at Breitbart wrote that “I’ve worked closely with Steve Bannon at Breitbart. He’s an American patriot who also defends Israel & has deep empathy for the Jewish people.
Pollak told NBC News that the soon-to-be White House chief strategist was not anti-Semitic, racist or anti-woman.He called Bannon a champion of a diverse range of conservative voices.
“I think Steve is a national hero,” Pollak told NBC News. “From my perspective, in terms of what I believe, I’m an Orthodox Jew, I am an immigrant, I’m married to a black woman, and I live in a liberal city. And Steve saved this country by helping Donald Trump win and restoring balance in the Supreme Court and giving Americans an opportunity to take their government back.”
Scot Vorse, a longtime friend and ex-business partner of Bannon said that the criticism of him as a racist or anti-Semite is unwarranted. In an interview with NBC news, Vorse said:
“I know this guy. He’s not perfect. But is he a racist, a sexist, an anti-Semitic? The answer is no. That’s not the guy I know,”