Steve Bannon is a horrible person. The NY Times found a few people who knew or know him who won’t go that far (I mean he’s not Ted Cruz horrible where you can’t find anybody who likes the guy), but they will say he’s a contentious, driven, ideologue who believes crazy, racist and anti-democratic things. He’s a workaholic and a rageaholic on his 3rd marriage, so I’d have doubts about the guy even if he were on my side.
Why is it so hard for people to reconcile the idea that he’s not unpleasant to them, but that he might be really unpleasant to others? That a guy who went to Harvard and is really smart can still think some really crazy counterfactual things? And above all, that a guy who is decent to some women and minority members to their faces, can’t still believe at his core that as a while man he’s better than they are.
Ms. Jones, the film colleague, said that in their years working together, 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.’”
So Bannon can vouch for the black people he personally knows as being some of the good ones. His actions and rhetoric evidence, over and over again, that he is indeed the monster we think he is. He may like you, but he’d take your right to vote away, nothing personal.
And by the way son-in-law-in-chief Jared Cushner is also a horrible person who thought that the George Washington Bridge caper in NJ was “badass”. He too went to Harvard, like Bannon (although he got in because his parents donated a shitload of money), so as an Orthodox Jew, he might just be stupid in accepting the anti-semitism his father-in-law and Bannon have been spreading. Or maybe it’s just that fellow Harvard alum brotherhood that only allows you to see what a nice guy Bannon is to you and your wife.
Another possibility is that Cushner is looking to be one of the Judenrat in his very expensive ghetto – Cushner is the banality of evil incarnate. This piece by Masha Gessen in the NY Review of Books is a must and an essential follow up to her piece on Autocracy: Rules for Survival.
We cannot know what political strategy, if any, can be effective in containing, rather than abetting, the threat that a Trump administration now poses to some of our most fundamental democratic principles. But we can know what is right. What separates Americans in 2016 from Europeans in the 1940s and 1950s is a little bit of historical time but a whole lot of historical knowledge. We know what my great-grandfather did not know: that the people who wanted to keep the people fed ended up compiling lists of their neighbors to be killed. That they had a rationale for doing so. And also, that one of the greatest thinkers of their age (Hannah Arendt) judged their actions as harshly as they could be judged.