U.S. Politics

Steve Bannon’s disturbing views on ‘genetic superiority’ are shared by Trump

Stephen Bannon, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, attends Trump’s Hispanic advisory roundtable meeting in New York, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

THINK PROGRESS

They also validate a core belief of white nationalists.

Former Breitbart head Steve Bannon has been a national lightning rod ever since he was appointed CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. At-issue: Bannon’s deep ties to the growing white nationalist movement, which provided some of Trump’s earliest and most fervent supporters.

On Sunday the New York Times published a profile on Bannon, casting him as a “combative populist.” Buried deep within the profile is an account of Bannon talking about his belief in the “genetic superiority” of certain people and his support for restricting voting rights to only property owners.

A former colleague of Bannon’s, Julia Jones, recounted her interactions with Bannon to reporter Scott Shane:

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.’”

Jones also previously described Bannon’s comments about voting to The Daily Beast.

Restricting voting to only property holders would take the country back centuries to its founding — when only white, male property holders could vote in most states. Today, such a restriction would disenfranchise huge swaths of people, including students, people of color, young Americans, many city dwellers, and low-income populations.

Far from populism, this is Revolutionary-era elitism drawn along racist lines. And for white nationalists, it’s a familiar goal.

Former KKK wizard David Duke, for example, has been proclaiming on Twitter that Trump’s election and cabinet picks are the first steps toward “taking America back” — that is, taking America “back” from anyone who isn’t descended from fair-skinned Europeans. In white nationalist ideology, only white Americans have a true right to the country — and the rights that go along with citizenship, like voting.

Bannon’s musings on voting restrictions are a dog-whistle to white nationalists. The same goes for his reference to “genetic superiority,” a view that Donald Trump also has said he shares.

Trump has repeatedly connected his success to his “good genes,” as ThinkProgress previously reported. He’s said that his children “don’t need adversity” to build character or skills, because they share his good genetics.In an interview once, he went so far as to compare himself to a “racehorse” and discussing his “breeding” at length.

The belief in the genetic predisposition of qualities like intelligence are a hallmark of white nationalism.

In Trump’s rhetoric on genes, white nationalists hear validation of their belief that genetics alone can qualify someone for leadership — or make them inherently inferior. Genetics and connections to race are a common theme on white nationalist, neo-Nazi sites like American Renaissance and Stormfront.

Yet despite the validation Bannon (and Trump) have given to white nationalist ideologies, many insist that the term “white nationalist” is inappropriate. Woven throughout the New York Times profile were quotes from Bannon’s friends and family pointing to his personal relationships with people of color, and therefore insisting that he was not, himself, a racist.

Laurel Raymond

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