"The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office": Republicans warn of Trump presidency

Influential GOP operatives are sounding warnings after Trump appointed far-right Steve Bannon as chief strategist

Published November 15, 2016 10:01AM (EST)

Steve Bannon; Donald Trump   (AP/Gerald Herbert/John Raoux/Photo montage by Salon)
Steve Bannon; Donald Trump (AP/Gerald Herbert/John Raoux/Photo montage by Salon)

Prominent members of the Republican Party are lashing out after President-elect Donald Trump appointed a right-wing extremist as his right-hand man and a leading GOP strategist has even warned, "The racist, fascist extreme right is represented footsteps from the Oval Office."

Close Trump confidante Steve Bannon, who formerly headed the far-right website Breitbart News and was CEO of Trump's presidential campaign, has been awarded a key spot in the Trump White House, as chief strategist and senior counselor.

Bannon, who is now on leave from Breitbart, has expressed numerous racist and anti-Semitic views. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a leading monitor of hate groups in the U.S., has described him as "the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill."

Many Republican leaders who vociferously opposed Trump and his extreme, bigoted campaign in the primary ended up supporting him in the general election, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio and others. But now that Trump won the top office, not all conservatives are on board with his presidency.

Republican strategist John Weaver, who served as a strategist for Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich during his 2016 presidential campaign, is one of numerous GOP operatives who have sounded warnings.

Weaver has declared that the "racist, fascist extreme right" is in the White House under Trump, cautioning, "Be very vigilant America." Indeed, the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party have already applauded President-elect Trump for Bannon's appointment.

In another tweet referring to Bannon's appointment, Weaver added, "Just to be clear news media, the next president named a racist, anti-semite as the co-equal of the chief of staff."

Breitbart News is a leading voice in the so-called alt-right, a new euphemism for what might more accurately be called the neofascist movement. Bannon himself, in fact, dubbed the website "the platform of the alt-right." And Former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, a staunch right-winger, resigned from Bannon's company Breitbart News website last March, calling it "a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers."

Weaver condemned the so-called alt-right in a tweet on Monday. "Let's be clear here media," he tweeted. "Stop using 'Alt Right.' It is the racist, anti-semitic, fascist extreme right. Please be clear & stop normalizing."

Weaver has committed his life to the Republican Party (his Twitter handle consists of his initials plus the letters "GOP"). He also worked on John McCain's 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns.

Weaver is by no means alone. He is joined by other leading conservative figures who are terrified at the notion of a pending Trump administration and Bannon's role within it.

Even Glenn Beck, an ultra-conservative demagogue in his own right, has expressed concerns about Bannon, who served as Trump's campaign CEO in recent months.

In February, Beck described Bannon as a “horrible, despicable human being,” going so far as to compare him to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, a close ally of Adolf Hitler. Beck said the Trump campaign was “grooming Brownshirts” (a reference to Nazi paramilitaries), while Bannon's Breitbart was writing propaganda in defense of the campaign.

In August, Glenn Beck doubled down on his warnings, calling Bannon "quite possibly the most dangerous guy in all of American politics." Beck added, "He makes Roger Stone look like Mary Poppins."

Likewise, Ben Howe, an editor at the conservative website Red State, said of Bannon, "I know this man. There’s no [conspiracy] theories involved. The Alt Right just hoisted a flag in the White House."

Under Bannon's leadership, Breitbart published a July 2015 call to hoist another kind of flag — the Confederate flag — and to raise it "high and fly it with pride." This article ran just two weeks after a massacre of nine black Americans at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, carried out by Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist who posted Nazi propaganda on his personal website and who had been radicalized by visiting far-right websites and their forums.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported, that under Bannon's leadership, Breitbart published "an outright racist" video from the German “Identitarian” movement, a white supremacist, neo-fascist movement in Europe. "Breitbart regularly publishes hate group leaders of the anti-Muslim variety," the center added. The center, which has documented more than 200 acts of hateful intimidation against migrants, people of color, Muslims and women in the days since Trump's election, released a statement on Monday emphasizing that "Bannon must go."

Other Republican heavy hitters have raised concerns. When the Trump campaign announced the appointment of Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor, conservative pundit Ana Navarro tweeted, "Oh, hell! White supremacist, anti gay, anti Semite, vindictive, scary-ass dude named Senior Strategist. After vomiting, be afraid, America."

Meanwhile, figures across the far right worldwide are absolutely elated at Trump's victory.

Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, a leader in France's far-right National Front party (and the niece of party leader Marine Le Pen), said she welcomed Bannon's "invitation . . . to work together." In an interview with French media after Trump's election, Bannon described Maréchal-Le Pen as "the rising star" of French politics.

The National Front was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen, a fascist Holocaust denier (and Marion's grandfather). For decades it was a fringe party but it has rapidly grown in recent years.

Like Trump's campaign, the National Front and far-right parties throughout Europe and the world share much in common: hyper-nationalism, staunch opposition to immigration, racist views, extreme anti-Muslim sentiment and economic protectionism.

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By Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a politics reporter and staff writer at AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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Anti-semitism Breitbart Donald Trump Fascism John Weaver Neo-fascism Racism Steve Bannon Video