As President-Elect Donald J. Trump begins to assemble his staff, one appointment in particular is drawing more and more scrutiny by the day.
Stephen K. Bannon, chief strategist to Trump and leader of the Alt-right movement, is being roundly condemned by multiple organizations, activists and elected officials.
“As long as a champion of racial division is a step away from the Oval Office, it would be impossible to take Trump’s efforts to heal the nation seriously,” said U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, in a speech calling on Trump to rescind Bannon’s appointment.
The 62-year-old Bannon, a former U.S. Naval officer, is the driving force behind Breitbart News, a right wing media company that makes no bones about its support for Trump. The twice-divorced Bannon was accused in 1996 by his first wife of anti-Semitic remarks.
During divorced proceedings, Mary Louise Piccard alleged Bannon did not want their daughters to attend a majority Jewish school because Jews raised their children to be “whiny brats.”
“It is a sad day when the man who presided over the premier website of the Alt Right, a loose knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house,’ said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, Chief Executive Officer of the Anti-Defamation League. “We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country’s people and who exemplify the values and pluralism and tolerance that makes our country great.”
Meanwhile, Bannon does have his defenders, including some who identify as gay. Christopher R. Barron, co-founder of GOProud, a now defunct gay conservative group, is one of them.
On Nov. 16, Barron tweeted: “Trump shouldn’t cave on Bannon. If you negotiate with terrorists they simply take more hostages.”
Barron recently launched a Facebook group “LGBTrump” and claims Trump will be the “most pro-LGBT President ever.”