Steve Bannon’s War on Islam

Bannon Trump war on Islam

Richard Silverstein

Steve Bannon gave a speech to a Vatican conference sponsored by a right-wing Catholic organization.  It’s eye-opening, not because we ever needed proof that Bannon was an alt-right extremist, but because it sets these disturbing views down clearly on the page for all to read.  One of the things that strikes me is how unoriginal, how derivative the ideas are.  There is no original thinking, even for a far-right intellectual.  Essentially, he embraces an international alliance of far-right forces to fight on behalf of capitalism and religious values.

They could have been recycled from the pages of Anders Breivik’s diaries or Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugged. Despite this, the ideas are no less disturbing:

I want to talk about wealth creation and what wealth creation really can achieve…because I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian west, is in a crisis…[We want to] let people understand the depths of this crisis, and it is a crisis both of capitalism but really of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian west in our beliefs.

…The thing that got us out of it [World War I and II], the organizing principle that met this, was not just the heroism of our people…The underlying principle is an enlightened form of capitalism, that capitalism really gave us the wherewithal. It kind of organized and built the materials needed to support, whether it’s the Soviet Union, England, the United States, and eventually to take back continental Europe and to beat back a barbaric empire in the Far East.

Did you catch that last reference to the Yellow Peril, our “Jap” enemies who stopped being our enemies oh, around 70 years ago?

The most disturbing passage is the one below which argues that the church militant must form a moral, if not physical army to destroy the threat of the “new barbarity,” Islam (which has apparently taken over from the Yellow Peril).  This movement promises to eradicate western civilization and must be combatted by all-out war:

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.

…One is state-sponsored capitalism. And that’s the capitalism you see in China and Russia…this kind of crony capitalism of people that are involved with these military powers-that-be in the government, and it forms a brutal form of capitalism that is really about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people. And it doesn’t spread the tremendous value creation throughout broader distribution patterns that were seen really in the 20th century.

In the above paragraph, Bannon ironically attacks the crony state-sponsored capitalism of China and Russia.  This 2014 speech was delivered before he hooked up with the King of crony capitalism, Donald J. Trump; a man who, if anyone does, represents “a brutal form of capitalism that is about creating wealth and value for a very small set of people.”

…Now that call converges with something we have to face, and it’s a very unpleasant topic, but we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.

…We’re at the very beginning stages of a global conflict, and if we do not bind together as partners with others in other countries that this conflict is only going to metastasize.

They have a Twitter account up today, ISIS does, about turning the United States into a “river of blood” if it comes in and tries to defend the city of Baghdad. And trust me, that is going to come to Europe. That is going to come to Central Europe, it’s going to come to Western Europe, it’s going to come to the United Kingdom. And so I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.

Note in the above passage, Bannon doesn’t denounce Islamist fascism, but Islamic fascism.  In other words, the problem isn’t Islamism, but Islam.  To some, this may appear to be a minor distinction, but it really isn’t.  Neither Bannon nor Trump makes any distinction between those two words.  The problem is Islam.  The entire religion and all those who profess it.  And the war they foresee is against all of Islam.

That’s why professions by Sean Spicer that the Muslim travel ban has nothing to do with religion are specious.  Of course it’s about religion.  The one “evil” religion that afflicts the world.

I should add a caveat here: Bannon will have to adjust his ideology to the fact that Trump’s crony capitalism has found fertile ground in relationships with a few of the more authoritarian Muslim nations.  In  Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf States, among others he’s inked lucrative real estate deals.  Tellingly, these nations weren’t included in the federal travel ban.  Apparently, some Muslim nations are more equal than others.

Now this very man has a seat on the principals committee of the National Security Council, where he will determine our security and military strategies around the world.  This is the seat of power from which he will prosecute his “global war against Islamic fascism.”

Returning to the Yellow Peril motif I mentioned above, Bannon views China as a villain co-equal to Islam.  He said this during a Breitbart radio interview:

If we can predict future American wars by Steve Bannon’s fulminations, we should be fighting a two-pronged war in the Middle East and Asia in the not too distant future:

You have an expansionist Islam and you have an expansionist China. Right? They are motivated. They’re arrogant. They’re on the march. And they think the Judeo-Christian west is on the retreat.”

Not to mention that during his recent phone call with Mexico’s president, he warned him that if his army was too frightened to fight the “bad hombres” down there, he would send U.S. forces to do so.  Do I hear three-front war, anyone?  And who uses the term “hombres” anymore? Only Anglo-racists.  If you dug deep in his psyche you’d probably still find “wetback” and “gringo” festering in his linguistic subconscious.   Trump’s syntax (“big league,” “loser,” “lightweight,” “moron,” “classy,” etc.) is a throwback to an earlier era: possibly the 1940s when Dick Tracy ruled the Comics pages and America ruled the waves.

Alexandre Bissonette, the Quebec alt-right warrior, is a soulmate of Steve Bannon in this crusade against Islam.  Bannon dresses better and has a higher-paying job, but they are brothers in arms.  Bissonette may be the foot soldier, but Bannon is the commander.

This post originally appeared on Richard’s blog on February 1.

9 thoughts on “Steve Bannon’s War on Islam

  1. This is quite informative to one, like myself, who had barely heard of the Breitbart operation and to whom the name Steve Bannon meant nothing prior to Trump’s presidential campaign. I wonder if Pat Buchanan attended the confab referenced? He also represents this mindset. If William Buckley, Jr. was still around I’m sure he would’ve been there, probably making a keynote speech. The shield-bearers for this ideology, of course, helped guide George W. Bush’s foreign policy in the Middle East, the aftermath of which is the current chaos in the region. So Mr. Silverstein is correct that these ideas aren’t original or innovative. It remains to be seen if Mr. Bannon will don chainmail armor and march into Islam’s holy sites at the head of his army of New Crusaders. “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war.” I tend to be a tad skeptical. I continue to believe that Iran will be the first to feel pain from Commander-in-Chief Trump’s military playthings. A rather fascinating notion, to my mind, is that “Judeo-Christian values” apparently exist in order to defend the right of capital to exploit the working class. Of course, this IS the use to which they are put (hardly news to Karl Marx!), but it could be debated whether that was the original intent, eh?

  2. Once one moves along from the rosecea, or whatever causes the redness of his nose and face, Mr. Bannon totes around a lot of unsavory (beyond the well publicized Breitbart connection), even frightening, biographical baggage. Not least of which is that Bannon, probably the de facto leader of our country, believes in a crackpot notion of historical eschatological forecasting (the following copied from the link below):


    Each complete four-part cycle, or saeculum, takes about 80 to 100 years, in Strauss and Howe’s reckoning. The Fourth Turning, which the authors published in 1997, focuses on the final, apocalyptic part of the cycle.

    Strauss and Howe postulate that during this Fourth Turning crisis, an unexpected leader will emerge from an older generation to lead the nation, and what they call the “Hero” generation (in this case, millennials), to a new order. This person is known as the Grey Champion. An election or another event — perhaps a war — will bring this person to power, and their regime will rule throughout the crisis.

    “The winners will now have the power to pursue the more potent, less incrementalist agenda about which they had long dreamed and against which their adversaries had darkly warned,” Strauss and Howe wrote in The Fourth Turning. “This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the Crisis. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention.” … ‘

    Video of Bannon speech and remainder of article

    • I have heard of this book, “The Fourth Turning,” but never looked into it. One thing we may be most confident of: “private sacrifice” will NOT be demanded of the “1% of the 1%” in whose primary interest The System functions.

  3. “Judaeo-Christian” is a post WWII term to disguise rampant hared of Judaism by Christians.
    Jewish refusal to accept a white man as their god drives Europeans insane.

  4. With the Crusades, the violent theology of the killer God came into its own. … Before the Crusades, Christian theology had given central emphasis to the resurrection of Jesus, and to the idea of incarnation itself, but with the war of the cross, the bloody crucifixion began to dominate Latin Christian imagination. A theology narrowly focused on the brutal death of Jesus reinforced the primitive notion that violence can be a sacred act. The cult of martyrdom, even to the point of suicidal valor, was institutionalized in the Crusades, and it is not incidental to the events of 9-11 that a culture of sacred self-destruction took equally firm hold among Muslims.” — James Carroll, Crusade: Chronicles of an Unjust War (2004)

    “The application of Scientific Method is universal. Despite the attempts of certain scientists to represent it as something exclusive and mysterious, there is nothing too lowly, repulsive, obscure, contentious, or deceptive to come within its scope. Neither is there anything too ‘sacred,’ which generally means a fear that the things so denominated cannot bear investigation.” — F. C. S. Schiller, Logic for Use: an Introduction to the Voluntarist Theory of Knowledge (1930)

    So now comes Steve Bannon, crusading graduate of Uncle Jim-Bob’s Charter Homeschool for the Hysterical, complete with a dubious degree in:

    Boobie Theology
    (from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-literate retreat to Plato’s Cave)

    The Christians, Jews, and Muslims found
    A way to test their wits
    These Boobies hung themselves on poles
    Or threw themselves in pits
    To slash and stab and stone themselves
    In atavistic fits

    Domestic quarrels such as these
    Have seldom led to peace
    But only to more arguments
    Which somehow never cease
    Until divorce brings happiness
    Or martyrdom’s release

    The concept of the single “gawd”
    Leaves little more to mock
    Yet charlatans consider it
    Their tawdry trade and stock:
    No worse idea ever crept
    From underneath a rock

    The dabbler in theology
    Ties thinking up in knots
    And ends up “proving” theories with
    Those Rorschach ink-stain blots
    A schizophrenic exercise
    In complicating plots

    Mistaking recrudescence for
    “Awakening” sublime
    The Boobie brain has failed so let’s
    Just stumble back in time
    And live two thousand years ago
    In darkness, plague, and grime

    The priests and kings would love it, though.
    They always have and will.
    If science hadn’t come along,
    We’d live in darkness still
    Enslaved to kings and priests intent
    On feeding us their swill

    The frightened ones need pity but
    That doesn’t make them king
    With autocratic power to
    Dictate the tune we sing
    The choir has many voices and
    Each one deserves to ring

    So let us hear no more of “spooks”
    Somewhere “up in the sky”
    Not singular, not plural, not
    A girl and not a guy;
    And certainly not “sacred” which
    Means just: Don’t dare ask “why?”

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2017

  5. Mike.. Is James Carroll part of the Carroll family whose father was the General in charge of”targeting” for the air force in Vietnam and whose brother was an anti war activist priest.?

    • Yes, traven. James Carroll wrote a book about his conflicted family, An American Requiem: God, My Father, And The War That Came Between Us (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company (1996). From the book’s jacket-liner comments:

      “The Carroll family stood at the center of all the conflicts swirling around the Vietnam War. Lieutenant General Joseph F. Carroll was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency through most of the war, a former FBI man who helped choose bombing targets but distrusted his fellow generals who wanted to use the [atomic] Bomb. His wife, Mary, was a devoted friend of Cardinal Spellman, the hawkish military vicar, yet she felt sympathy for antiwar priests and tried to balance her devotion to her husband with love for her sons.

      “This shattering history takes its shape from the choices made by three of the five Carroll sons. Dennis, marked by a fierce conscience, became a draft fugitive and exile. Brian, deeply loyal, joined the FBI and was assigned to track down draft resisters and Catholic radicals. James, wanting to fulfill the dream his father had embraced and then abandoned, became a Roman Catholic priest. But he quickly aligned himself with the very Catholic radicals and draft resisters who were one brother’s target and another brother’s support. While the war in Southeast Asia raged and the streets of America exploded in protest, Joe and Mary saw the precious world of the own family, centered on a gracious house on General’s Row collapse. None of the Carrolls would ever be the same.”

      Although not anywhere near so shattering as the Carroll family’s experience, I, too, had a difference of opinion with my widowed, working-class mother regarding not just America’s War on Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), but patriotism and religion in general. I loved my mother without reservation and respected her utterly. Still, she believed in a merciful Jesus Christ and a U.S. Government that cared about working-people and the poor, among whom she grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. For my part, I could never believe in a son of a God, split into three parts, who condoned, if not encouraged, needless war and supported a government that threatened us young male Americans with conscription, prison, exile, or enlistment into the U.S. Military if we did not slavishly conform to the reigning national insanity. Mom would say to me: “Who will defend us from our enemies if you don’t?” To which I would answer (having seen neither sons of gods nor Asian peasant enemies anywhere around me): “Who will defend me against my own government if you don’t?” Over time, we just agreed to disagree about these matters. For his part, James Carroll end his book with this about his father:

      “These have been my words, but it was his life that gave me mine. At last I have this belief from him: in despair is the beginning of hope, not the end, which is why this particular war was holy, and why this story is sacred.

      “My father was dead. A fallible man. A noble man. I loved him. And because I was so much like him, though appearing not to be, I had broken his heart. And the final truth was — oh, how the skill of ending with uplift yet eludes me — he had broken mine.”

      I very much liked James Carroll’s book. It spoke to much that I had thought myself about parents and children, governments, and needless wars. I understood my mother’s point of view well enough, even though I could never share it. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic Party had instituted the New Deal back in the 1930s, especially the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that gave Mom’s desperately impoverished father his first real job and reliable paycheck. No more riding the rails from town to town looking for a few hours work. No more sleeping with other homeless, unemployed family men in out-of-the-way “Hobo Jungles.” As Mom always liked to say about her hero FDR: “He was a crippled man who taught a crippled nation how to walk.” I understood that, as well as Mom’s innocent, boundless faith in a competent national leader who cared about the poor and whom the Republicans hated with a purple passion for that very reason. “A vote for a Republican,” Mom would always say, “is a vote against yourself.” But I had to deal with the likes of Presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon, the twin sons of bitches who sent so many of us to a swamp in Southeast Asia with orders to do something — never very clear just what — that basically boiled down to “sink or swim, sucker.” Somehow, I didn’t sink. Just dumb luck, I guess. But I never forgot and I never forgave, even though most of my countrymen and women have certainly done both, which explains the many swamps, foreign and domestic, into which Americans have voluntarily sunk themselves in hapless submission to a corrupt government run by real Republicans and their junior-partner “Democrat” Republicans like the Clintons and Barack Obama.

      I sure miss my Mom, but I take solace in the thought that she never had to see the party of FDR become as pathetic and useless as a few bought-off political midgets could make it: perfectly healthy hothouse orchids and special snowflakes who taught a walking nation how to crawl.

  6. Thanks Mike. I understand your pain. As a WW II veteran who gave three years of my youth to that necessary war I am devastated to see a fascist nincompoop and his destructive cronies running what little was left of our democracy into a third world dictatorship while the Judaeo-Christian fascists cheer.
    Was my youth wasted? I have always been proud of my small role and the beneficence of our government in helping me get an education after my war service. Now that social compact between government and its citizens is being rest asunder while the Republican and Democratic party place holders do their Kabuki theater thing.
    I read Carroll’s book and there is also a long video on his life that is very poetic. As Shakespeare said in one of his plays.that when a man dies ” the evil lives on but the good is oft interred amongst his bones.

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