Steve Bannon, the alt-right, and their place in Trump’s White House

Nate Riggins, Contributing Writer

For many Americans, the future of the country seems frightening following the victory of President-elect Donald Trump. It doesn’t help that one of Trump’s most recent appointees has greatly contributed to the rise of the alt-right movement. Trump named Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, as his White House chief strategist. He described Breitbart News as “the platform of the alt-right.”

When Bannon took over at Breitbart, the organization took a turn toward the extreme right, encompassing many of the ideals of the movement that are criticized as occasionally dealing in racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic terms.

Although much of the movement’s rhetoric is limited to online articles and memes, its message has grown darker and more serious in recent days. On Nov. 19, the National Policy Institute, a self-proclaimed alt-right think tank, held its annual conference, during which its president yelled, “Hail Trump!” and used language reminiscent of Nazi discourse throughout his speech. Disturbingly, some members of the audience stood up in support and performed the Nazi salute.

This shocking scene has alarmed many around the country. Not only is this group openly promoting a white nationalist and neo-Nazi agenda, the same group may now have a voice in Trump’s White House.

Bannon, who could potentially represent alt-right values in the White House, said in a press release announcing his appointment that he plans to serve as an “equal partner” to Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus.

This means that Bannon would have equal power to arguably one of the most important roles in the White House. Therefore, the vision of the alt-right could be prominent in the message of the Trump administration.

It is clear to see why Bannon’s appointment has drawn harsh judgment. A man known to promote the ideals of a movement criticized for its white nationalist, racist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric being appointed to a high position in the Cabinet is a move that would never be accepted in any other administration, nor at any other time in our recent political history.

So why should we accept it now? Bannon’s appointment has already drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike, and many have denounced Trump’s choice.

“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,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said.

Younger voters and those just becoming involved in politics have the most to lose, as this administration will dictate much of our political lives going forward. Our voices should be the loudest. We cannot accept the Trump White House continuing to serve as a platform for white-supremacist values. Our involvement in challenging this administration is more important than it has ever been.

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