The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a prominent liberal civil rights organization, has demanded that President Donald Trump fire White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon in response to the violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, according to a bizarre statement released by the group on Saturday.
“We call on the President to take the tangible step to remove Steve Bannon – a well-known white supremacist leader – from his team of advisers,” the NAACP declared.
“Bannon serves as a symbol of white nationalism and his high place in the White House only energizes that sentiment,” they continued.
Although Bannon is known for espousing a civic nationalist ideology that influences his opinions on immigration and trade, there is certainly nothing that indicates he is in any way a “white supremacist leader”, or has any connections to white supremacists at all. Prior to his role in the Trump administration, he served as the executive chair of Breitbart News, a well-respected conservative publication, which he allegedly described as a “platform for the alt-right”. However, at the time he did so, that label did not have the same association with white identity politics as it does today, and instead represented an anti-establishment, populist form of conservatism.
In addition, Bannon had no involvement whatsoever with controversial Unite the Right rally that took place in Charlottesville on Saturday. Indeed, in private, Bannon has described one of the main ringleaders of the event, the National Policy Institute’s Richard Spencer, as a “self-promoting freak” and a “goober”.
This was followed today by former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci stating that Bannon had a “toleration” for white nationalism that was “inexcusable” during an interview after a Sunday show on ABC.
Establishment Republican lawyer Richard Painter also chimed in on MSNBC, demanding that not only should Bannon go, but Sebastian Gorka, another prominent rightist within the administration, should also be fired, repeatedly calling them “neofascists”. Gorka was previously saved from dismissal in May through a personal intervention by Trump and Bannon.
On CNN, political scientist Larry Sabato had the same message, proclaiming that Trump should “fire all the white nationalists on his staff, starting with Steve Bannon.”
The onslaught against Bannon was also further compounded by National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster’s appearance on NBC‘s ‘Meet the Press’, where he refused to say whether he could continue to work with Bannon in White House. McMaster is currently at the center of a bitter dispute with Bannon over the foreign policy direction of the administration.
This comes at a time where Bannon’s standing within the White House is already said to be rapidly fading, due to the elevation of John Kelly, a McMaster ally, to the position of White House Chief of Staff, as well as the belief by Trump that Bannon is attempting to take credit for the 2016 presidential election result. It is very clear that Bannon’s foes on left and right have picked up on the fact that he may be vulnerable, and by creating a false narrative about the Charlottesville unrest, are seizing it as an opportunity to banish Bannon from the White House altogether.