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Steve Bannon: the puppeteer behind Trump

By INDIRA MOOSAI

Much of the country has watched in shock as President Donald J. Trump, commonly referred to as “not my President” Trump, has already begun stirring huge waves in the White House. We may see the situation at face value and think, “hey, this might just be the biggest disaster in American history — where does he get his radical ideas?” Maybe the better question would be, “is he even thinking for himself?” He claims to be an even-handed Washington outsider, but from the looks of it, he could be a puppet. And Stephen J. Bannon could be the puppeteer.

Steve Bannon is the senior counselor and chief strategist of the Trump administration. He is well-educated and successful, having studied at Harvard Business School. Bannon has had several careers, including investment banking at Goldman Sachs, and executive producing in Hollywood. However, he is known for his overly strong nationalistic perspective and his far-right extremism. Scarily enough, he somehow landed himself a permanent seat on the National Security Council where he gets to have significant input in the government’s top secret affairs.

The most concerning part is that his deranged input has already begun taking shape and it’s only been three weeks since Trump was sworn into office.

To Bannon, America is what he calls the “Judeo-Christian West,” which is essentially a term of exclusion of other religions. He also said that the “golden era” of capitalism was dictated by Judeo-Christian values; that we have to go back to those values in order to attain the peace and prosperity we once had. These values he talks of are rooted in faith, specifically Christianity and Judaism. He believes that applying these religions to all aspects of life would be the utopian America. With this logic, our values shouldn’t be taken from the Constitution — our values should come from the Bible or the Torah. Because that’s what America is about, right? Selectively applying religious values to law in order to eliminate freedom of thoughts and actions?

For a glimpse at his disturbing thoughts, at the Vatican in a 2014 conference, he said, “We are in an outright war against jihadists, Islam, Islamic fascism.”

This is a terrible thing to say. For one, he uses the term “war” to describe an ongoing battle against the religious views of a massive demographic. Using this hostile language provokes extremism and terrorist action – war is violent, so if we talk about war, we need to expect violent responses. Secondly, saying “we” implies that well-adjusted people who follow Islam peacefully are not included in that “we,” and are considered targets in the war on terror. That is outright ignorant. It promotes an “us vs. them” mentality, the exact mentality that leads to brutality, inhumanity and a lack of oneness around the world.

With these personal ideologies in mind, we can see the clear connections between Bannon’s beliefs and Trump’s executive orders. Trump issued the Muslim ban, preventing travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from entering the United States. This order is perfectly crafted to exclude people of Islam, just like Bannon wants for his “perfect” American society. When Homeland Security said that the ban should not be applied to people with green cards, Steve Bannon personally overruled them – he wants the public to know who’s really in charge.

Bannon and his credences disrupt the original American vision, a melting pot full of diversity, freedom and culture. It’s a place where people can come to build a future and experience a life of opportunity. We may think Trump is the mastermind behind all this chaos, but given Bannon’s perspectives, it is likely that we have a presidential puppeteer pulling strings behind the curtain.

Indira Moosai can be contacted at indira.moosai@spartans.ut.edu

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