Nationalist and white power/alt-Right leader Steve Bannon is Trump’s chief strategist and personal advisor. He appears to be the most influential and powerful person in the Trump administration. Bannon is on record with many of his extremist opinions about the government and the world he wants to see replace the world we live in today and it’s pretty frightening.
Consider these quotes from Bannon and the picture they paint of him and his intentions:
“Fear is a good thing. Fear is going to lead you to take action.”
“I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
“Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”
“We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.”
Bannon has openly stated that he wants to see (and lead) a global movement that promotes the anti-foreigner/nationalist views represented by Brexit and Trump’s election, where mostly white, Christian nations treat those who aren’t as threats and inferiors.
The weakly veiled anti-Muslim travel ban just instituted (and now blocked by federal courts) through the obviously Bannon-drafted Executive Order Trump signed reflect this bigotry. However, as he’s admitted, Bannon has an agenda that is much bigger than one EO. How does this ban further that?
As repulsive as Bannon is, no one accuses him of being stupid. He can’t be unaware of the ramifications of this ban (let alone other EOs). He knows that Muslim majority nations and their citizens would be outraged by this and that ISIS, which has used the meme of America hating Muslims as their primary recruiting tool, would be delighted at the windfall this would deliver to them. And he has to know that intentionally beating a wasp’s nest with a stick will end up enraging them and putting them on the attack.
Don’t we all know what has to come next after the American government launches a hateful, humiliating and insulting attack on all Muslims from Muslim majority countries? By inflating the U.S. as the biggest enemy of Muslims, becoming the ripest target in such a way, isn’t it inevitable that a terrorist attack of some kind against the U.S. is hastened?
Terrorist attacks have happened in the U.S. no matter who the president has been or how friendly or unfriendly he has been to the Muslim community. There are mentally disturbed people in the U.S. already that are vulnerable to being incited to commit horrific acts, especially with ISIS and others urging them on. Not to mention Bannon and Trump.
So when the next terrorist attack happens, which may be spurred on by the very tactics that Trump and Bannon claim are meant to protect the country, why might that be potentially welcomed by them?
As the quote above illustrates, Bannon sees the future as requiring a religious and cultural war against the non-white, non-Christian peoples, in order to arrive at a global White Christian Man’s Nirvana. How to launch such a war when the majority of Americans would oppose it?
The lessons of 9/11 point the way.
When a terrorist attack happens, wouldn’t Trump claim that it validated his Islamophobic acts and justified greater retaliation against Muslims? And might not many in the public, in the wake of a shocking terrorist attack, be so fearful of another attack that they would support whatever extremist actions he took “to keep Americans safe”?
As the saying goes and 9/11 proved, crisis for the many is seen as opportunity for the few. It is hard to imagine that Bannon and Trump haven’t considered how the country became so submissive to The President after 9/11 (even Bush, in his later years in office, pined nostalgically for the days of obsequiousness after time passed and the public’s fearfulness and blind obedience dissipated). With such an unpopular and xenophobic agenda so desperately desired, might not Trump and Bannon see it to their advantage if a terrorist attack occurred and a frightened public fell in line behind whatever they wanted to do? And paved the way for retaliation that became the type of religious war that Trump, Bannon and ironically, ISIS are all looking to wage?
Trump is the stereotypical con man and Bannon is right there with him. When it comes to conning others, there’s the short con and the long con. I think we can see what the short con is for Trump, to deceive the ignorant who support him that he’s keeping all his campaign promises and fixing everything in America as only Cheeto Jesus can. He’s playing the part of “Big Daddy” for them, who’s going to keep them safe, bring back good paying jobs in the horse and buggy industry and make root beer flow from their kitchen faucet (actually that’s polluted water after he’s gutted the EPA).
But the long con is what’s most worrisome and dangerous. What is it that Trump and Bannon hope to gain from keeping the country in constant crisis and damaging and undermining the relationships with the outside world including Mexico, Muslims, Europe, etc.? It’s about nationalism and autocracy. By driving government and society into dysfunction and disarray, isolating it from other countries, The President would be the only one to turn to and could assume greater power.
The fears of Trump taking on a dictator-like presidency are legitimate (the instance this weekend of Customs officials being ordered by Trump officials to refuse to follow federal court orders to release detainees is chilling because it is what happens in dictatorships). Creating a Constitutional crisis in only his first week in office may portend that this may be more the rule than the exception over the next few years. And with our society in constant chaos…if a terrorist attack comes in the midst of it all, there will be opportunity for Trump, Bannon and their cronies to accumulate power in a way that could only have been a nightmare to the nation’s founders.
There is hope though. The popular uprisings around the U.S. and the world will put increasing pressure on Republicans in Congress who don’t stand up to Trump’s and Bannon’s unconstitutional actions. Federal courts are universally siding with the people and ordering stays against the Trump/Bannon Muslim ban and the Acting U.S. Attorney General, Sally Yates stated that she would not defend this EO and has directed the rest of The Justice Department not to defend it. She was fired by Trump later in the day but this was still a big symbolic blow to the Trump/Bannon efforts. Additionally, over 100 U.S. diplomats have signed a Dissent Memo, condemning the Muslim Ban and explaining the danger it represents (to them, to our military and to our ability to work with and get the assistance of Muslims in Iraq and other countries where we’re fighting ISIS and other terrorism).
The good news is that resistance to Trump is widespread. What will be important though is being prepared for that day after the next terrorist attack. Americans will need to fight against the predictable exploitation of fear Trump and Bannon will use to tighten their unilateral grip on power over what used to be a full democracy (after Trump’s inauguration, the Economic Intelligence Unit downgraded the U.S. from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy”).
That day will inevitably come and Trump and Bannon will surely use it to help marshal a war against Muslims inside and outside of the US as well as to further tear apart our government and social programs (Bannon claims to hate centralized/federal government and says that wealth and jobs will come to regular Americans if the federal government is dismantled in favor of states rights and foreigners are kept/kicked out of the country).
Trump and Bannon are power-hungry sociopaths, they have no consciences to put the brakes on their strongest desires. They are capable and desirous of causing terrible things to happen to whip up one crisis after another to destabilize our government and society. It’s important to know what the cons are here, the short cons and long cons so despite the scenarios they create, their cons can never succeed.