Calls to dump Bannon from White House team

Brooklyn Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-9th) has joined 168 members of the United States House of Representatives in urging President-Elect Donald Trump to remove White nationalist sympathizer Steve Bannon from his White House team.

“I am deeply concerned about the appointment of Stephen K. Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor to President-Elect Donald J. Trump,” Clarke told Caribbean Life on Thursday. “Mr. Bannon’s longtime association with white nationalist, xenophobic, and anti-women politics has raised serious concerns that he will use his position in the federal government to undermine the best traditions of our nation and attempt to relegate women, African Americans, Latinos, Jews, Muslims, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community to second-class citizenship.”

“These are not just words,” she said, adding that reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “demonstrate that hate crimes have already increased dramatically since Election Day – including a swastika recently painted on the sidewalk in Crown Heights.

“The threat of violent hatred has become a reality for more and more Americans,” Clarke continued. “We cannot — and we will not — allow anyone to disregard our humanity and demean our existence. I urge the incoming administration to reject such vile rhetoric and urge my constituents to report suspected hate crimes to law enforcement authorities.”

In their letter to Trump, the congressional representatives said that immediately following his victory, “many Americans were optimistic and hopeful that you would take the steps necessary to unify our country following the divisive and contentious election.

“In your election night speech, you said, ‘Now, it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. It is time for us to come together as one united people,’” the congressional representative writes. “Unfortunately, your appointment of Stephen Bannon, whose ties to the White Nationalist movement have been well-documented, directly undermines your ability to unite the country. As elected representatives of millions of Americans from diverse backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities, we strongly urge you to reconsider your decision to appoint Mr. Bannon to White House Chief Strategist.”

The Members of Congress said that Bannon’s appointment sends the wrong message to people who have engaged in xenophobic, racist and discriminatory activities, “indicating that they will not only be tolerated, but endorsed by your Administration.”

The congress members said that millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump Administration, adding that Trump’s appointment Bannon “only exacerbates and validates their concerns.”

“As the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News, Mr. Bannon repeatedly and aggressively pushed stories that promote anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism,” they write. “During an interview last summer, Mr. Bannon bragged that Breitbart was “the platform for the alt-right,” a movement that upholds White Nationalism while strongly rejecting diversity in any form.

“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,’” they add.

“Disturbingly, leading white nationalists like former KKK Grand Dragon David Duke, American Nazi Party Chairman Rocky J. Suhadya, Richard Spencer, Peter Brimelow, and Brad Griffin have praised the news of Mr. Bannon’s appointment,” the congress members continue. “We believe it should concern you that civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, are widely opposed to Mr. Bannon’s appointment.

“We strongly believe that Mr. Bannon’s appointment will not allow the country to heal and come together as one,” they write. “As one of your top advisors, the White House chief strategist will help set the tone for your administration. The person in this role must be prepared to serve the interests of all Americans, not those of a select few.”

The Members of Congress, therefore, strongly urged Trump to rescind Bannon’s appointment immediately “and build a diverse White House staff who are committed to the core American values of inclusiveness, diversity and tolerance.”