Bannon an Early Indication of the Suspicion the Left Has Sown


Ian Donnis gave me some space in his weekly bullet-list column to offer a conservative perspective on the Stephen Bannon brouhaha. Sample:

In short, those of us not caught up in the internecine feuds between Trumpkins and NeverTrumpers can’t help but see the fingers of progressive guru Saul Alinsky, who advised radicals to “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” It’s a tactic to sow chaos, division, and hatred. However, the effect may be to unify the Right. We’re watching this tempest spun up within the mainstream media, which we understand to hate us, with the pervasive involvement of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which we’re inclined to see as a hate group.

If anything, the process that has led to the Right’s suspicion has accelerated.  Witness the scene when the cast of Hamilton on Broadway opted to single out Vice President–elect Mike Pence in the audience in order to deliver him a condescending speech with the basic message, “We believe all the worst that’s been said of your administration, and we wanted to disingenuously call for you to respect us by implicitly insulting you and turning your evening of entertainment into a hate-happening that’s sure to attract national attention.”

While I’m concerned about the danger and the rifts that progressives have lost no time in promoting, my perspective as a conservative is otherwise positive.  The opposition is leaving President-Elect Donald Trump no easy path to selling out his base.  By hardening the sides, rather than softening them, lefty activists are ensuring that he can’t afford to let down those audiences that cheer him and his administration rather than booing them.

  • Mario

    I definitely agree with your last paragraph, although I consider the failure of the left to provide any kind of competent opposition to Trump’s worst instincts to be decidedly negative to both the country and conservatism. Rather than simply wait for the man to do something awful, which shouldn’t take long, they decide to start off his Presidency by forcing the moderate right into defending a man they couldn’t vote for. Every time I’m disgusted with the direction of the Republican party and start looking for other options, the Democrats are quick to point out that they don’t want votes from people like me. Frankly, this is probably a lot like what it feels to be a black Democrat.

    I would, however, strongly disagree that there is no “no knock-down example of Bannon’s bigotry.” He calls himself a nationalist and has built and explicitly referred to his website as the platform of the alt-right. I know people confuse nationalism with patriotism, but nationalism is a specifically ethnic idea. German nationalism created Germany (and started WWII), Italian nationalism created Italy, Zionism is Jewish nationalism, Kurdish nationalism is still ascendant, and I would argue that all of those are appropriate expressions in their context. But there is simply no place for nationalism in the United States (with the possible exception of Native Americans), because America has always been a multi-ethnic idea.

    The best one could say is that they are trying to create an “American” ethnicity by choosing a preferred time frame and declaring it the only true America, but I defy anyone to define it in a way that doesn’t purposefully exclude some particular ethnic group, whether it is blacks, or Catholics, or Hispanics, whatever. The only “American” value is the assimilation and adaption of other cultures, making American nationalism either an impossible or a racist idea.

    Now, perhaps Bannon himself is one who confuses nationalism & patriotism, fine, although I can’t think of a context where repeatedly declaring oneself a patriot as if it were an ideology transmits any informational value. I think his meaning is unambiguous, but we can at least agree about what the alt-right is, right? This comment is already too long, so I won’t define it here, but I would argue that it is a term that melds very well with my definition of nationalism above.

    I do want to make another point though, which is that demanding unimpeachable proof of bigotry is an inappropriate standard all too common on the right. Rather than making it incumbent on people to avoid the appearance of bigotry, the right automatically jumps to the defense of people so accused, until overwhelming unambiguous evidence, maybe, causes them to back away. Which is why we commonly see white cops accused to killing unarmed black men receive thousands of dollars in donations for their legal defense before any facts are known. Yes, the left jumps to the opposite conclusion just as fast, but making the mirror mistakes of the left doesn’t make one right. We see a similar dynamic with rape claims, automatically defending the accused is no more appropriate that automatically taking the side of the accuser. The conservative position should be to withhold judgment until evidence is presented, but to also not demand so much evidence that only a direct confession will sway one’s mind. It is perfectly appropriate that the court of public opinion has a lower standard of evidence than a conviction would demand. At some point the accused has to take responsibility for the impression they give.

    Sorry for the length. To think I thought of responding on Twitter.

    • Mike678

      Your definition on nationalism is too narrow…cherry-picked, no doubt, to justify your biases/opinion. Look it up…it also encompasses “: a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries.” Thus the “make America great again” slogan.

      Your premise is false–and so is your conclusion. But why use the definition above if you can tar and feather a person with another based on your biases and adds a dab of fearmongering to the mix? Why think critically with an open mind? And then you attempt to wrap yourself in tattered rag of integrity by justifying your prejudgment based on media hype… Wow.

      • Mario

        If your plan was to provide an example of someone confusing nationalism with patriotism to help illustrate my point, you couldn’t have been more successful. Dictionaries have a flaw where they define words in every way that they are used and never, ironically enough, definitively. So when people often conflate two ideas, like “nation” & “country,” you’ll find them referred to as synonyms when they are actually two different ideas that sometimes coincide well, like Japanese, and sometimes poorly, like Spanish.

        The question, of course, is what he meant by what he said, not how can one construe what he said to be less offensive. If someone describes himself as a nationalist I don’t automatically assume he’s a bigot, I just assume he’s the type of person who likes to use words larger than his vocabulary allows. When you couple it with a reference to the “alt-right,” a movement built on the idea of carving out a safe space for “European Americans,” what was the benefit of the doubt quickly becomes willful blindness.

        • Mike678

          Again, wow. So if several dictionaries and texts define nationalism differently than you…and in a more positive manner…they must be wrong and you are, of course correct.

          Perhaps if you expand your reading list from the hate-filled and fearmongering alt-left websites you can begin to see past your own fears and biases. And perhaps wait to see what people actually do before condeming them. If it is as bad as you predict, we will both agree that it has gone to far. But at least give the guy a chance.

    • analyzethis

      Ethnicity has nothing to do with Nationalism.

  • Richard T

    Join the radical left, support socialism. Back the Sanders/Warren wing of the Democrat Party and fight like hell to make it a majority. A bas with the Clintonistas. Help place them in the trash heap of history. Clinto was the only Democrat who could loose to Trump. Biden would have won all of the states that she won and would have added Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin; likewise with Bernie. I am certainly no Republican and disavow the Democrats as they are currently constructed. I believe that we have much in common and have been kept apart through party labels and such.
    Richard Tuoni